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StarBulletin.com

Redshirt tackles get into the trenches


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POSTED: Saturday, August 15, 2009

Their time is coming — quickly.

Haku Correa and Geordon Hanohano were introduced to college football last fall by taking on Hawaii's starting offensive line in practices. This season, they're preparing to extend their action to Saturday nights.

Both freshmen have been practicing with the second unit in fall camp and could be regular contributors in the defensive tackle rotation this season.

“;We've got young guys who are going to have to step up and play, and they've responded,”; defensive line coach Dave Aranda said. “;They've studied, they know their stuff and they're getting better. From where we ended in spring to now, big improvement. The future is now for those guys.”;

The Warriors return experienced senior tackles Tuika Tufaga and Rocky Savaiigaea and sophomore Vaughn Meatoga. With the coaches frequently substituting the tackles to keep them fresh in the hub of the defense, Correa and Hanohano could be called on to contribute.

“;We didn't really take a year off,”; Hanohano said. “;We were trying to get better and learn the packages. We're just really excited and learning from the upperclassmen, and Vaughn has really been stepping up and helping us out.”;

The freshmen redshirted last year after Correa signed with UH out of Damien and Hanohano out of Saint Louis. Though they were high school rivals, they clicked once they arrived on campus.

“;We were friends before that, but when we got on the same team we just got closer,”; Correa said. “;Plus he's going to play right next to me, he's someone I can trust. That's all I need; it makes me play better.”;

Their primary duty during their redshirt year was to help the starters prepare for each week's game via the scout team. Playing the interior of the line meant taking on center John Estes and last year's guard combination led by Lafu Tuioti-Mariner and Keith AhSoon.

“;It was a reality check coming from high school and going against one of the best centers in the nation,”; Hanohano said of Estes. “;The offense would help us a lot, tell us what we should work on, so it helped a lot redshirting.”;

Decision time

With more than a week of practices complete, UH head coach Greg McMackin said the coaches will get together tomorrow to sort out the depth chart.

A 7-on-7 scrimmage with full-speed tackling scheduled for today's practice will factor into the decision process for the receivers and defensive backs.

“;We want to see who tackles, we want to see who catches the ball under pressure,”; McMackin said.

The competition for playing time at the receiver positions was expected to be tight given the depth at the four spots.

“;We're going to see who can make the tough catches over the middle, and this live drill is getting a feel for the real thing,”; senior slot receiver Jon Medeiros said.

“;There's a lot of competition among the receivers. Everybody's slashed down the line. ... Making those tough catches will show how much you know the offense and how to perform under that kind of situation.”;

While the offensive and defensive lines pound on each other in their 9-on-7 period dedicated to the running game, the contact is generally lighter for receivers and defensive backs.

“;During our 7-on-7 period and our team period, all the DBs and receivers know it's pretty much just a thud period, just tag off and hold up,”; Medeiros said. “;With this period (today), it's a little more live and a little more hard-core.”;