Defense dishes out some pain


POSTED: Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mana Silva arrived at the practice field starving for contact.

“;I told (slotback) Jon Medeiros before the scrimmage, 'You look like a honey barbecue chicken to me,' “; Silva said. “;They all know I love KFC, so I just tried to go out there and make plays.”;

The junior safety was among the Hawaii defensive backs who feasted during a full-speed 7-on-7 period that highlighted yesterday's practice.

The 7-on-7 period often becomes an offensive showcase as the defense refrains from heavy contact. With the restrictions lifted yesterday, the advantage tilted toward the defense, which relished the chance to tackle full speed.

“;We wanted to see how our tackling was in the secondary and I was very happy with where we are,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said.

“;We did it so the DBs could show they could tackle and break on the ball. The offense made some plays. It's important that we saw the receivers can catch it with pressure on.”;

McMackin said the coaching staff will evaluate the footage today as they make decisions on arranging the depth chart.

After two short completions, Silva ignited the defense with a crushing hit on receiver Jett Jasper along the sideline. Jasper, to his credit, hung onto the ball.

“;That was beautiful,”; linebacker Corey Paredes said. “;That jacked us up for sure.”;

“;You have to set the tone for the defense,”; Silva said, “;and I guess everyone fed off that energy and it worked out well for the D.”;

The offense turned in some highlight moments as well, with Shane Austin connecting on a deep throw to Royce Pollard. Joe Avery later hauled in a long completion from Greg Alexander. Greg Salas was among the busiest receivers with five catches.

With the defense keying on the pass, the 7-on-7 drill turned the receivers into targets, testing their focus in catching the ball knowing a big hit is likely to follow.

“;It's an advantage to the defense, but it's just making us better,”; said slotback Ryan Henry, who had a reception of close to 30 yards in the period. “;The coaches want to see who's going to catch the ball in traffic and be able to secure the ball and take the hit.”;

The defense rolled its momentum into the 11-on-11 (without full tackling) 2-minute drill period that followed. Silva came up with an interception off Alexander, the first of three for the defense.

“;I think it's going to be a good learning tape for us,”; Alexander said. “;We had a pretty bad day, so it'll be something we can look at and learn from.”;

The performance provided a confidence boost for a defense that entered camp with new starters at nine positions. The secondary was hit particularly hard by graduation, losing all four starters and several key backups.

“;It was huge for our development and our progression as a defense as a whole and our chemistry working together,”; Silva said. “;We're all young and trying to feed off each other's energy and develop, because when the lights go on we all have to ready.”;

Satele hurt

Linebacker Brashton Satele left the 7-on-7 period with a shoulder injury. Satele, a senior, had X-rays taken after practice and is scheduled to have the shoulder examined tomorrow.

“;It's a nagging thing that's happened before. We've just got to hope for the best,”; linebackers coach Cal Lee said.

Satele has been the first-team middle linebacker so far in fall camp, with juniors Mana Lolotai and Jake Heun behind him. Lolotai had a strong spring and was listed as the starter when the coaches were considering moving Satele to defensive end this summer.

Taking the plunge

Alex Green had some help in fulfilling the Warriors' annual rite for newcomers.

The Warriors had their pool day after practice yesterday, with the first-year players jumping off the high-dive platform.

“;At first I thought it would be not that bad,”; Green said. “;When I got up there, I looked down and 'oh my God.' ... My heart was beating so fast. It's crazy.”;

Some of the players got it over with quickly. It took others longer to step off the edge. Green dangled his feet off the platform, then went over with a shove from fellow running back Chizzy Dimude.

“;Now that it's done I feel good,”; Green said. “;I feel a little more prideful that I did it.”;