Time to step up


POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2009

For the second year in a row, the Warriors must replace three starters on the defensive front. And once again, they'll need linemen accustomed to supporting roles to embrace leadership positions.

Gone are defensive end David Veikune, a second-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns, and tackle Josh Leonard, who signed a free-agent contract with the Houston Texans. Keala Watson and Fale Laeli also completed their careers in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

John Fonoti brings his explosive combination of strength and speed back to the right defensive end spot. Elliott Purcell (among the top reserves last season), Cameron Allen-Jones and Victor Clore entered the season as the leading candidates on the left side.





        » Returnees: John Fonoti, Vaughn Meatoga, Rocky Savaiigaea

» Quick Hit: Fonoti leads a defensive front replacing three starters


» Key Stat: Hawaii had 36 sacks last season, tied for first in the WAC




The tackles bear a heavy load in the middle, and depth is key, as the coaches plan to substitute frequently to keep them fresh.

Vaughn Meatoga showed considerable promise as a redshirt freshman and shed 15 pounds in the offseason while maintaining his power. Senior Tuika Tufaga also brings experience to the mix as a prominent member of the tackle rotation last season. Rocky Savaiigaea trimmed down over the summer after missing all but one game last year due to a triceps injury. Chris Leatigaga is also pushing for playing time following an impressive spring.




CHART | Click to Enlarge



Head coach Greg McMackin describes the defensive ends as “;linebackers with their hand on the ground.”; Paipai Falemalu joins the group as an intriguing prospect after moving up from outside linebacker.

Junior college transfer Zach Masch could boost the Warriors' depth in the middle. Freshmen Geordon Hanohano and Haku Correa look to join the rotation after redshirting last year.


Replacing Veikune's presence and persistence—as well as his nine sacks—on the end won't be easy. While a handful of linemen enter the season with significant game experience, developing depth is pivotal.


Establishing control of the line of scrimmage is the first step in the development of a rebuilding defense. The 4-3 scheme hinges on the tackles holding their ground in the middle to allow linebackers to flow to the ball. Pressure from the ends figures to ease the load on a green secondary.






        By Coach Dave Aranda

        “;We have a different skill set than we had last year. Last year we had guys who were real talented with their hands and were more finesse guys. Our guys right now are a bit more physical guys, more power moves.”;