Tormey has plenty of history with Seattle


POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2009

SEATTLE » Standing in the shadow of the Space Needle, Chris Tormey felt quite at home.

The city's signature structure was a familiar part of the skyline for Tormey over close to two decades spent coaching in various capacities at the University of Washington.

Yesterday, it towered over the Hawaii football team as the Warriors practiced at neighboring Memorial Stadium in advance of tomorrow's game against Washington State.

“;It's always good to come back to Seattle,”; Tormey said following the afternoon workout. “;I spent 18 years here, both of my daughters were born here, my wife was born here. Seattle's a beautiful city. Next to Honolulu it might be the most beautiful city in the world.

“;It just feels like coming home. ... But we're not here to sightsee, I'm not here to enjoy the city. I'm here to help prepare our team for the game.”;

A year ago, Tormey was coaching the Huskies' linebackers. When Washington replaced its coaching staff in the offseason, Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin hired him to coordinate the Warriors' special teams and assist with the safeties.

Now he's back in Seattle and looking forward to tomorrow's Cougar Gridiron Classic at Qwest Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Hawaii time.

Washington State has played a game in Seattle each year since 2002. Tormey was the head coach at Nevada that year, when the Wolf Pack lost to the Cougars in the inaugural Classic, the first college game to be held at the home of the Seattle Seahawks. The Warriors will have a chance to get a feel for the facility today.

“;It's a tremendous environment, it's a great place to play. I think our players are going to be very excited about having an opportunity to play in Qwest Field,”; Tormey said.

Still ...

“;It's just a matter of focusing on what's between the lines. Lock in and lock out,”; he added. “;Lock in on what's important—your assignments and reading your keys and taking care of your responsibilities—and lock out all the peripheral stuff.”;

A UH special teams unit dominated by newcomers got off to a solid start under Tormey's supervision in last week's win over Central Arkansas.

Punt returner Ryan Henry averaged 10 yards in five attempts and Jovonte Taylor had a 48-yard kickoff return.

Washington State punter Reid Forrest averaged 47.7 yards on his six kicks in a season-opening loss to Stanford last week.

Tomorrow's game will be the 28th time Tormey has faced the Cougars in his career as a player and coach at Idaho and as a coach at Washington.

“;I have a tremendous personal rivalry with Washington State that goes back a long ways,”; Tormey said. “;I have great respect for the job they've done there. I grew up in Spokane, Wash., so it was the hometown school for me growing up.”;


Starting fresh

Depending on what formation the Warriors begin with, junior Jake Heun or freshman Paipai Falemalu could make his first career start tomorrow.

Heun is the Warriors' starting left defensive end in the regular four-man front. Falemalu is first up in the package calling for three linemen.

Heun began the season as a linebacker, but was moved to defensive end before Tuesday's practice.

“;I worked with Coach (Dave) Aranda and got the hang of most of it,”; Heun said. “;I'm looking forward to it, going one-on-one with the guy and seeing what happens.”;

Liko Satele is the starter on the right side. McMackin praised Satele's performance in his Division I debut last week, although the sophomore had to work through some jitters at first.

“;I was falling all over the place, running into my own teammates. But after a while the older guys just calmed me down and they had my back, so that helped me out,”; Satele said. “;It gave me a lot more confidence to know (the coaches) have confidence in me.”;

Elliott Purcell, last week's starter at left defensive end, suited up for practice yesterday, but has been limited by a bruised thigh. John Fonoti made the trip but hasn't practiced since injuring his knee last week.


WAC's new bowl deal a gem

The Western Athletic Conference yesterday reached agreement on an affiliation with the Emerald Bowl.

The conference has agreed to send one of its top three teams to the San Francisco-based game to face the No. 6 team from the Pac-10 conference in 2010 and 2013. Army will send its team to the game in 2011 if it is bowl eligible, while Navy has a deal for 2012.

Army is currently coached by former Hawaii defensive coordinator Rich Ellerson and Navy by former Radford standout and former UH quarterback and coach Ken Niumatalolo.

The WAC previously had agreements with four bowls:

» The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, which pits a WAC team against a Conference USA foe.

» The New Mexico Bowl, which features a WAC team facing a Mountain West team.

» The Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, which also features a Mountain West opponent.

» The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, which gets a WAC team if the Pac-10 cannot provide a bowl-eligible team.


Short yardage

When Tormey led Nevada against WSU in 2002, Saint Louis graduate Jason Gesser was the Cougars' quarterback. Gesser will be back at Qwest Field for tomorrow's game, this time as a sideline reporter. The telecast will be available on Oceanic Cable pay-per-view (channel 255). ... A crowd of 45,000 is expected for the game at Qwest Field (capacity 67,000), according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review.