Tuesday, March 30, 1999
By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
New Hawaii head coach June Jones throws a
pass at yesterday's practice.
Players enjoy the run-and-shootBy Paul Arnett
offense the new coach is installing
June Jones is the leader of a band that may not have hit all the high notes at the first day of spring practice, but the new sound wasn't that far off-key.
The Hawaii head coach spent two hours working on basic techniques, reviewing different reads and schemes, and even wound up throwing a few passes just to keep the old arm loose.
"It went fairly well," Jones said. "We put in a lot of stuff, so there were a lot of blank looks as we called the plays, but that's to be expected. We knew that would be a problem.
"But all in all, we did some good things. We've got to clean a lot of stuff up. We're trying to give them as much of the package as we can without totally confusing them."
The players will do some reviewing at tomorrow's workout, before having more pages of the playbook thrown at them on Thursday. It's the kind of pace needed in order to be prepared for fall camp come August.
"I saw some good things out there," UH secondary coach Rich Miano said. "I think the coaches were more enthusiastic at first, but as the practice went on, you could see the guys getting excited.
"This is a great defense capable of making big plays. You can get a lot of sacks and a lot of interceptions out of this defense. The offense is going to be exciting for the players and the fans. It was a good first day."
This spring, the defense will be missing several potential starters because of injuries, including lineman Tony Tuioti. He had an operation to repair a ruptured disc in his back and will miss spring.
"I'm still going to be out here every day learning this new defense," Tuioti said. "We want to get the monkey off our back by winning our opener against USC. That's our first goal. I feel as good as I have in a long time.
"I also like this defense. In the 3-4, I was always getting double- and triple-teamed at the nose tackle. In this defense, it's more one-on-one. I still have to hold the point, but I'll have another lineman next to me to help out."
UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin was enthusiastic about what he saw.
"We've got some guys down, but the ones on the field performed well," McMackin said. "I thought they did a good job of understanding the defensive schemes we want to use. This was as good a first day of spring as I've seen. I'm encouraged."
Many of the players were encouraged as well. Senior quarterback Dan Robinson had his moments throwing the short ball as well as the bombs. He and fellow signal-callers Bronson Liana, Josh Skinner and Shawn Withy-Allen threw to a variety of receivers and slotbacks.
"We're kind of still mixing and matching, but it was a lot of fun," Robinson said. "The pass routes are sophisticated. A lot of it is just making the proper read between quarterback and receiver."
Jones is hopeful the Rainbows will be able to reach that plateau by the end of spring. Right now, there are no natural instincts. It's still at the paint-by-number stage.
"We've got some quickness and speed," Jones said. "The big thing is getting them where they know the offense well enough where they can let their ability go play.
"What happens a lot of times when you put a new system in (is) they're thinking instead of playing. Once they nail it down, our system is a lot easier because we really only have about five things that they do. They just have to understand one of the five on each play that we're running."
Spring practice will conclude with the Green and White game on April 25 at Cooke Field. Because of the numerous injuries on defense, hitting will be limited. The spring game may be the only time for full contact.
"Right now, we're just trying to get the guys familiar with what we want them to do," Jones said. "Several guys caught my eye. I thought Avion Weaver looked good at running back. And Craig Stutzmann, Dwight Carter and Ricky Lumford showed me some good quickness at receiver.
"It's just the first day and we still have a long way to go, but it felt good to be out here on the field. I've been to a lot of luncheons and banquets the past few weeks., so I was good to go."
More UH football news in Notebook