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UH's mobile Ieru on the offensive


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POSTED: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hawaii's preference for the pass often puts the offensive line on the defensive.

So when a practice period is dedicated to the run, the UH linemen savor their chance to attack rather than retreat.

“;When we get to run out, it's our turn,”; senior guard Raphael Ieru said.

Stretch plays and screen passes offer the line a chance to break out of the trenches and take on defenders on the perimeter or downfield. And it's on those types of plays that the benefits of a summer devoted to training are particularly evident for Ieru.

Ieru, who peaked at 365 pounds early in his UH career, reported for his final fall camp at 315, about 10 pounds lighter than his playing weight during spring practice.

“;Running was brutal, but it's all worth it,”; said Ieru, the Warriors' starter at right guard as they approach next week's season opener against Central Arkansas.

Offensive line coach Gordy Shaw gave Ieru a target of getting to 315 after spring ball, and has noted the difference in his mobility and conditioning in preseason practices.

“;It's made a tremendous difference in his stamina, and, knock on wood, he hasn't missed a practice or a drill,”; Shaw said.

“;His durability is outstanding now ... and his movement has improved tremendously.

“;Some of the stuff in the run game they have to be quick. They have to be able to get into their blocks quicker. It's not so much positioning any more, it's more driving blocks. That's where dropping that weight has really helped him.”;

Ieru has been part of the first five on the offensive line throughout fall camp, playing between tackle Laupepa Letuli and center John Estes with the first unit.

Estes sat out yesterday's practice while resting a bruised shin. Sophomore Matagisila Lefiti took most of the reps at center with Ieru sliding over for a few as well.

“;I did my best,”; Ieru said. “;Trying to not snap it over the quarterback's head.”;

With Shaw joining the staff in the spring, Ieru is adjusting to a blocking scheme that gives the guards more reads at the line.

“;You have to know who you're reading,”; Ieru said. “;If you mess up on a little read, it can change up a lot. It can mess up the whole protection.”;

Shaw brings a background based in run blocking after coaching at Minnesota for 14 seasons, and the Warriors linemen are relishing their opportunities to drive forward.

Several times in practice, including last week's scrimmage, Estes has punished defenders while leading the running back around the corner on runs.

“;I think John has the best time, mostly every play he gets to pull,”; Ieru said. “;He gets to show everybody we don't just sit back and relax and pass block, he can get downfield and get physical.”;

Still, pass protection remains the line's primary duty, and the development of the offense as a whole could take pressure off the unit this season.

“;(Quarterback Greg Alexander) is doing an outstanding job of reading the coverages and getting the ball to the right guy, fast. That's helped our protection as much as anything,”; Shaw said. “;And we've been able to move our feet once we get engaged with defenders and stay on blocks better.”;

 

Cashing in

With the start of the fall semester this week, senior receiver Jon Medeiros is beginning to reap the benefits of the scholarship he was awarded after spring practice.

“;I don't have to worry about financial aid coming in or hoping for another loan,”; said Medeiros, who wasn't sure he'd be able to take on another loan this year if the scholarship hadn't come.

Linebacker Corey Paredes and defensive back Richard Torres were awarded scholarships during fall camp.

While the scholarship changes his financial circumstances, his approach to the game has remained constant throughout his career. Medeiros remains in contention for a starting job at slot receiver.

“;Just because I have a scholarship it doesn't change my mentality about the game and how hard I work out here on the practice field and my attitude,”; Medeiros said. “;I just continue to work hard, scholarship or not. This is my last season so I'm going to give it my all.”;

 

Short yardage

The Warriors depart from their schedule of morning practices with a workout at Aloha Stadium tonight. The practice is closed to the public. They again practice on campus tomorrow morning and will take Saturday off. They get into their game-week preparations on Sunday.