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Double-duty forces Lee to make an unusual call


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POSTED: Tuesday, September 08, 2009

This is going to make some of you out there happy. But the only thing Ron Lee cares about is that he thinks it will make the Hawaii offense better.

Lee, the Warriors offensive coordinator, is also the receivers coach. Yesterday he told the Star-Bulletin he is stepping back from calling the plays so he can focus on improving the receivers.

He said he realized the pass catchers should be his priority after watching tape of the Warriors' 25-20 season-opening victory over Central Arkansas last week, and he convinced head coach Greg McMackin that quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich and offensive line coach Gordy Shaw can handle the play selection.

Lee told me this has nothing to do with his play-calling, which some have criticized as too conservative for the run-and-shoot and too predictable. He just really feels like he needs to school up the receivers; he saw too many routes run incorrectly the other night. He wants to make adjustments during the game, not after, when it may be too late.

“;Preparation is one thing, and we thought we prepared well. But we need to execute, too,”; he said.

It looks like a way less than ideal situation at least partly caused by the Warriors not having enough coaches working on offense.

There are only four full-time assistants: Lee, Rolovich, Shaw and running backs coach Brian Smith. Meanwhile, the defense has regular staffers Dave Aranda (line), Cal Lee (coordinator/linebackers), Rich Miano (secondary), Chris Tormey (safeties) and George Lumpkin (ends). The lone graduate assistant, Michael Smith, is assigned to defense. The director of football operations doesn't coach on the field, but Tony Tuioti is another defense guy. And, of course, McMackin — defense, all his long career.

That's four offensive strategists compared to eight defensive minds in the football offices.

Craig Stutzmann was a huge help as the de facto receivers coach last year, even as a graduate assistant. When he joined McMackin's charter staff, the thought was that he'd quickly prove worthy of a regular staff position — and he did, but it didn't work out. The two offseason openings were filled by veterans Shaw and Tormey. Stutzmann took a real job coaching the receivers at Portland State, one where they actually pay you some money.

As for play-calling by Ron Lee vs. play-calling by others? We'll see. As I wrote last year, I didn't think Lee was bad, that he was working with what he had — there was good reason in many cases to game-plan conservatively and play to the team's strength, the defense. Maybe not as entertaining as many would like, especially on the heels of two years of a ridiculously exciting and effective wide-open attack.

There were certainly a few mistakes, such as the outside run from the end zone resulting in a safety.

Remember, Lee's in-game choices didn't come from a list like Baskin-Robbins' 31 flavors (and, by the way, we don't know how often he was overruled by McMackin). The coaches meet days prior to the contest and figure out what they're going to call depending on the situation.

Of course, you adjust when necessary. Lee can still interject. There's instinct involved.

What Ron Lee's instinct tells him now is his receivers need more of his attention during the game than the down-and-distance chart.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.