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Warriors' Salas finds a home in slot


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POSTED: Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hawaii receiver Greg Salas' production with the ball in his hands earned him player of the week honors from both his team and the Western Athletic Conference.

And even though the Warriors' last throw didn't come his way, the junior still played a critical role on the decisive play of UH's season-opening win.

Facing third and goal at the 8 and trailing Central Arkansas by a point with 1:28 left, Salas lined up in the slot and bolted toward the Bears' safety. By occupying the defensive back's attention, he created an opening for Rodney Bradley to run a post pattern behind him.

Greg Alexander zipped a throw into the window and Bradley's snag sent the Warriors to a 25-20 victory.

“;That's what you have to do,”; Salas said, “;trying to be unselfish and just trying to make the play work.

“;On that coverage, if I pull that guy in, there's going to be a big hole right there for the X (receiver).”;

Said Alexander: “;He has to get that safety. If the safety wants to go over, then (Salas will) get the ball. But his job was to eat that guy up and he did it.”;

The biggest statistical performance of his career — seven catches for 180 yards and a touchdown — earned Salas the WAC's offensive player of the week award yesterday.

His previous best was a 131-yard outing last November against Washington State, the Warriors' opponent on Saturday at Seattle's Qwest Field.

The lone returning starter to the Warriors' receiver corps, Salas appeared quite comfortable at his new position in the slot. He had receptions of 37 and 44 yards to go along with a 66-yard jaunt that set up the winning play.

“;It's what you dream about as a little kid,”; Salas said. “;You want that situation and you want to be the guy who can come up with a big play.”;

At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Salas presents a different look from the slot receivers the Warriors typically featured since June Jones installed the run-and-shoot offense in 1999. Most tended to be shorter receivers who could dart into gaps between linebackers and safeties.

“;He's just really tough inside because he's as quick as a slot but he's hard to bring down,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said during his weekly press conference. “;Even the long play that he made right before the end of the game, a guy had him and fell off of him because he's so big and strong.”;

“;He's almost like our version of a tight end, running up the seam in the slot,”; Alexander said. “;He's definitely a bigger body in there.”;

Salas led the Warriors with 831 yards on 57 receptions as a wideout last season and McMackin credited offensive coordinator Ron Lee with coming up with the idea of moving him into the slot during the spring.

“;You can't double him inside because he moves around,”; Lee said. “;They can play him tighter, but it'll open up other guys.

“;You never know on coverages who's going to be open. This time Salas was open and made it work.”;