UH running game goes Green


POSTED: Wednesday, September 16, 2009

LAS VEGAS » In contrast to his junior college days, Alex Green knows the running game plays a supporting role in the Hawaii offense.

Yet the system offers the potential for that show-stopping moment.

Green was fed regularly during his career in Butte Community College's two-back system. The carries don't come as frequently now, but he still sees benefits in playing in a pass-oriented scheme.

“;I see one or two guys in the box as opposed to eight or nine guys in the box,”; Green said after the Warriors' practice yesterday at Palo Verde High School. “;You can make one guy miss and you're off to the races after that. It's a little easier in a sense.”;

That scenario pretty much summed up Green's first Hawaii touchdown.

Given the ball and provided a gaping hole by the Warriors' offensive line, Green got his chance to stretch his legs and show off his speed in a 44-yard dash to the end zone to give Hawaii a 35-0 second-quarter lead against Washington State last weekend.

“;That's the threat he gives us, that every time he touches the ball he's got that speed that he can go the distance,”; UH running backs coach Brian Smith said. “;Leon (Wright-Jackson's) not that far behind him in speed either. It was good to see that explosive speed from Alex and watch him run away from people.”;

Just as Green and Wright-Jackson, who had a 26-yard burst last week, savor the thrill of breaking loose, the line shares in the rush.

“;It's a tribute to hard work and coaching and our backs are really good this year,”; center John Estes said. “;(Green) got to the second level and after that it was his work.”;

“;Seeing those guys break away, definitely, it feels good,”; tackle Aaron Kia said. “;We're doing our job, so it's definitely good seeing production in the running game.”;

By producing when the coaches call for a running play, the backs contribute to the passing game other than just as an extra blocker.

“;The passing game sets up the run, but when you're able to break off big runs like that, it makes the defense more conscious of what the running backs are doing, and that creates more holes for the receivers,”; Smith said.

The running backs and offensive line spend much of their time in practice together, working on their timing and blitz pickups, and share in each other's successes. Along with opening holes for the backs, the line allowed just one sack last week.

“;I'm going to buy them some steaks when we get back to Hawaii,”; Green said with a laugh. “;They work hard. I'm really proud of those guys.”;


Home on the road

The Warriors are practicing at Palo Verde during their week-long stay in Las Vegas, giving them a chance to acclimate to the desert environment prior to Saturday's game against UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium.

“;The air here is thin and you get tired pretty quick,”; Green said. “;It helps being here for a week to get used to the weather and everything.”;

The Palo Verde staff is allowing UH to practice on its field and work out in the school's weight room in the days leading up to the game.

“;Coach (Darwin) Rost has really opened his doors to us,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said. “;It's real good facilities and the guys had a really good Tuesday workout.”;

The Warriors are practicing in the morning to keep the players close to their normal routine while in Las Vegas. The 8 a.m. start also gets them off the field before the heat peaks. Temperatures are forecast to top out in the high 90s the rest of the week.

“;We got to feel how hot it was when we got off the plane,”; linebacker R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane said. “;I'm glad they have the game at 8 (p.m. on Saturday).”;


Moniz moves up

Bryant Moniz spent most of August in a battle for the backup quarterback job. So although he began the season third on the depth chart, he feels prepared to step into the role after Brent Rausch suffered a broken bone in his throwing hand last week.

“;It's not really the way you want to move up, but it's football and stuff happens,”; Moniz said. “;You just have to be ready. The backup's job is just to be ready to help out the team.”;

Moniz's first Division I throw was a 36-yard completion to Jon Medeiros in the closing moments against Washington State.

“;It was good to get that first snap out of the way and play in front of a road crowd. It's exciting,”; Moniz said. “;I thought I was just going to hand off the ball mostly, but it was cool that we got to pass it.”;


Fonoti playing it safe

Defensive end John Fonoti is getting antsy to make his debut in his senior year, but wants to be prudent in returning from a knee injury.

Fonoti, UH's lone returning starter on defense, missed the first two games and did some running while the Warriors practiced yesterday.

“;I want to play this game, but I'd rather not play three games than miss the whole season,”; Fonoti said. “;I'll see how it is by game day and see if I can go.”;