Dollar makes a difference


POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In searching for a little change, the Hawaii defense came up with a “;dollar.”;

Always looking for ways to get more speed on the field, the Warriors' coaching staff implemented a variation on an existing package to create more havoc with a smaller but quicker personnel group.

So they put in a scheme pulling all but one defensive lineman off the field and replacing them with two more defensive backs in passing situations.

After dabbling with it the previous two weeks, the Warriors turned to their “;dollar”; package more frequently last Saturday against Utah State.

“;It's a real fun package,”; safety Spencer Smith said. “;We used it sparingly at first because it was new and we weren't comfortable with it, so we just had to put more and more in each week.

“;It gives us speed and it gives us a different look because we're always moving around. They don't know where the blitz is coming from, they don't know where we're dropping.”;

The Warriors (3-6, 1-5 Western Athletic Conference) will try to build on last week's win over Utah State when they face New Mexico State (3-6, 1-3) on Saturday.





        ; Who: New Mexico State (3-6, 1-3) at Hawaii (3-6, 1-5)

        When: Saturday, 5:05 p.m.

        Where: Aloha Stadium

        TV: PPV, Dig. Ch. 255

        Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

This week's set of Aggies visiting Aloha Stadium tends to keep the ball on the ground more than last week's as Utah State went into throwing mode after falling behind early in Hawaii's 49-36 win.

Designed primarily for passing situations, third and long in particular, the dollar is basically an extension of a philosophy head coach Greg McMackin has held throughout his career.

“;We've always believed in moving guys up and getting more speed on the field,”; said McMackin, who credited defensive line coach Dave Aranda for suggesting the move. “;We can pressure out of it or we can cover out of it.”;

The Warriors run a 4-3 system as their base, but have varying personnel groups depending on the situation. The dollar leaves defensive end Fetaiagogo Fonoti on the line, joined up front by three linebackers with seven defensive backs in the secondary or creeping up toward the line.

Instead of digging in at the line of scrimmage, the defenders shuffle around before the snap.

“;Sometimes we send everybody, sometimes we don't, so the offensive line doesn't know who's coming,”; safety Richard Torres said. “;It's fun walking around (and) confusing the guys, but you just have to line up and play once the ball is snapped.”;

While it puts a smaller group on the field, the Warriors were able to create pressure out of the alignment at times last week.

“;It's kind of revitalized us in a way, knowing we can attack you from different ways, we can cover you different ways, I think guys get excited,”; associate coach Rich Miano said.

“;These are young guys so everybody's learning a little bit more the intricacies of what they're doing and we keep expanding on it so there's always something new we can do out of it.”;

It has also allowed younger defensive backs on the second line of the depth chart for most of the season to see playing time in the secondary, including cornerback Lewis Walker and safeties Kenny Estes and Jordan Gomes.

“;The good thing about those guys is they're all deserving to play,”; Miano said. “;They're all conscientious, they all take their roles seriously. It gives these guys an opportunity to go out and make some plays.”;

Hawaii struggled on third downs in the first half of the season with opponents converting on nearly 52 percent on their opportunities. That figure has dropped to 33 percent over the last three games.

Comeback trail

Cornerback Jeramy Bryant has been addressing questions about his arm for two weeks now. He hopes to get some answers of his own today.

Bryant, who has missed the last two games due to a biceps injury, plans to test himself in the Warriors' practice this morning.

“;I'm going to try to practice, just get through what I can get through,”; Bryant said. “;It feels good, hopefully it's a go.

“;It feels good, but I haven't had any contact yet, so I'll see when it starts getting dinged up a little bit.”;

Bryant was a steady presence in the secondary before suffering the injury against Boise State. Freshman Kawika Ornellas stepped into the starting lineup for the last two games in his place.

Receiver Royce Pollard continues to progress in his comeback from a stress fracture in his left fibula. The sophomore has missed the last four games and pushed his leg in running routes yesterday.

Torres continues to nurse hamstring and ankle injuries and watched most of yesterday's practice, but will try to get some reps today.