Salas to stay put at slot


POSTED: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Losing another key contributor on offense will require some adjustments for the Hawaii football team.

Moving Greg Salas back to his old position won't be one of them.

With receiver Rodney Bradley headed back to Hawaii after spending the weekend in the hospital with a broken leg, the Warriors return to practice today to begin preparing for Saturday's Western Athletic Conference game against No. 6 Boise State at Aloha Stadium.

The injury to Bradley, suffered in the second quarter of Hawaii's loss at Idaho last Saturday, leaves a vacancy at wide receiver on the left side of Hawaii's four-receiver set.

While Salas led the Warriors in receiving yards at the X receiver spot last season, UH head coach Greg McMackin said the junior will remain at slot receiver for now.

“;We're not going to take something that's really good and change it,”; McMackin said during his press conference yesterday. “;He's playing great inside, the matchups are good.”;

Due in part to Bradley's speed and his rapid development in the offense since joining the team in the spring, the coaches moved Salas into the slot this season. He's responded with 42 receptions while leading the WAC and ranking second in the nation in averaging 131.8 yards per game.

Bradley's 575 yards remain second on the team, and he's tied with Salas with five touchdowns.

After Bradley's injury, sophomore Joe Avery stepped in and caught three passes for 41 yards. McMackin also mentioned junior Mike Tinoco and senior Craig Bell as possibilities yesterday. Neither has seen game action this season.

McMackin said wideout Royce Pollard will miss his second straight game. Pollard didn't make last week's trip due to a stress fracture in his leg. Jovonte Taylor, who's battled through an ankle injury, returned to the starting lineup last week and caught six passes for 80 yards.

McMackin said Bradley will return to Hawaii today. Bradley had a rod inserted in his leg following the game and stayed in Idaho. McMackin said he will be on crutches for four months.

“;He's completely planning on being ready. Actually he's already started rehabbing for next season,”; McMackin said.

The UH defense will be without defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga — one of the Warriors' top linemen — for another two to three weeks, McMackin said. Meatoga didn't make last week's trip due to a persistent ankle injury he suffered against UNLV on Sept. 19.

Balancing act

As he said last week, McMackin wants the Warriors to play with the confidence to make big plays on defense. Doing so while staying within the scheme can be the tricky part.

“;We're saying you've got to make plays. Relax, make plays,”; McMackin said. “;But they're not doing it at the right point in time. They're guessing a little bit. We have to be more disciplined.”;

Since coming up with 10 turnovers in the first three weeks of the season, seven in a win against Washington State, they've added just one takeaway the past three games.

Third-down defense has also remained an issue. Idaho converted eight of 10 third downs, raising the conversion rate for UH opponents to 52 percent. The Warriors have a weekly goal of 37 percent.

Among the Vandals' conversions was a 36-yard gain on third and 25 in the fourth quarter.

“;We need to do a sound job of coaching right now,”; McMackin said. “;But that's what happens, especially when you're behind. When you're ahead it's easier to keep your discipline. Defense is completely being disciplined and then going and helping your buddy make a play. We have to do a better job of coaching that.”;

Converting opportunities on offense also remains a point of emphasis. UH has played from behind since taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter at Louisiana Tech on Sept. 30.

“;We need to score, it helps out our defense,”; quarterback Bryant Moniz said after Saturday's 35-23 loss. “;If we get up on the other team it'll put more pressure on their offense. Right now the pressure is always on our offense and defense. We have to help our defense out and put points up.”;

Perspective check

McMackin attended the U.S. Pacific Command's change-of-command ceremony in which Adm. Timothy Keating passed the command to Adm. Robert Willard. The visit to the military base provided a sense of perspective.

“;I don't feel sorry for ourselves. The next guy needs to stand up, and we need to get ready,”; McMackin said. “;This is a football game. That's war.”;