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Rolo rolls into bigger role


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POSTED: Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It doesn't seem like that long ago when Nick Rolovich was on the other side of the face mask, looking to the sideline for guidance.

Now he's looking forward to the challenge of providing direction for another quarterback.

The former Hawaii signal-caller adds play-calling responsibilities to his duties when the Warriors face Washington State on Saturday in Seattle, drawing on his experiences on both sides of the player-coach relationship.

“;I enjoy feeling the emotions of the team on the sideline,”; Rolovich said. “;Are they ready, do they have that killer instinct, are they ready to go right now with something big? Or do we need to keep it simple for a minute and get some confidence up? I like getting that sense from the sidelines.”;

Rolovich will call plays from the sidelines with input from offensive coordinator Ron Lee and offensive line coach Gordy Shaw, who will assist with the running game.

While Rolovich will have a greater voice in play selection, heeding the input of the other coaches coming through his headset will be a major part of the job.

“;I think there's a listening quality to all three of us and discussions have been very good this year,”; Rolovich said. “;We're just going to have to stay ahead with our thoughts and really become one with this whole thing.”;

The game-week routine remains the same, with Lee taking the lead in crafting the game plan, which dictates the play calling during the game.

“;He and I mutually decided that we'll make the game plan and Rolo, with the help of Gordy in running situations, will make the call,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said.

“;Ron Lee is an unselfish, team guy and I couldn't be happier with him. It's really his decision and I think it'll make us better on the offensive side of the ball.”;

As a Warriors quarterback in 2000 and 2001, Rolovich learned the intricacies of the run-and-shoot under June Jones while Lee coached the UH receivers.

By his senior year, he developed a feel for the system that fed a remarkable nine-game run in which he threw for 3,361 yards and 34 touchdowns, and a school-record eight scoring passes in a rout of Brigham Young.

He joined the Hawaii staff last season as quarterbacks coach, tutoring current UH starter Greg Alexander.

“;(Rolovich) knows this package, knows the offense. I think he's very talented,”; said Lee, who will concentrate on correcting the receivers during the game and will still have the authority to call plays.

“;He's always had a big input as far as the offense. He knows what we're doing. It's always been a group deal. ... He's only coached for a couple years, but he's really got a good feel for the game.”;

Shaw was an offensive coordinator last year at South Dakota, and said the changes won't require much of an adjustment.

“;It's not going to be any different for me than it was before,”; Shaw said. “;Ron's still the coordinator, and we're still making the game plan throughout the week with his direction and his leadership.

“;Ron's always in communication with all of us, so he's still the coordinator and if he sees something and sees a play that's really good, that's going to get called.”;

Just as McMackin and Lee have put more trust in their quarterbacks coach, Rolovich's faith in Alexander's understanding of the system will help him stay a step ahead of the defense.

“;What helps is I can trust where his eyes are going to be,”; Rolovich said. “;I can take it to a different part of the coverage and work on the next play or three plays down the line. I don't need to just make sure he's reading the right thing.”;