Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, September 1, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

’Bows know USC
inside and out

How well the UH football team
can put that knowledge to use
is another question

Bullet UH football bus service
Bullet Football Notebook

By Paul Arnett


Head coaches and coordinators from the June Jones and Greg McMackin era learned how to scheme on electric football fields.

While most kids placed their mini-mes in neat little rows, McMackin had his spread all over the place, yelling wildly, "We're coming hard off the edge!''

A young boy such as Jones would have countered this pressure defense by sending his men in different gaps via post patterns, quick slants and fade routes only he could imagine.

He would come up firing that little magnet, hitting his plastic receiver in stride and declaring, "There's always somebody open" as his man raced through the magnetic field for a touchdown.

Well, maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea as McMackin and Jones put the finishing touches on their Southern California game plans. For the past few months, these two coaches have visited nearly every X and O in the Trojans' neighborhood.

McMackin knows where tailback Chad Morton is headed the instant the ball is snapped. Jones says he can tell the defensive coverage from his vantage point on the field. The question remains, can they convey their knowledge quickly enough in this Saturday's season opener with the No. 21-ranked Trojans?


USC head coach Paul Hackett runs a West Coast offense that will keep Hawaii's defense on the edge all night. The keys for the Rainbows will be tackle Tony Tuioti up front, Anthony Smith and Jeff Ulbrich at linebacker, and Dee Miller and Shawndel Tucker in the secondary.

Their concerns are Morton, quarterback Carson Palmer and receiver R. Jay Soward. Last year Morton rushed for 985 yards and six touchdowns, Soward caught 44 passes for 679 yards and six scores, and Palmer passed for 1,755 yards and seven touchdowns.

"They are of the West Coast variety, which is a quick passing game, but they can throw it deep if they have to,'' McMackin said. "They also like to use Soward on reverses and throw him short routes, and let him create off curl patterns and quick screens.''

McMackin had Sean Butts playing Soward, Kevin Gilbride pretending to be Palmer and burly freshman Jonathan Kauka as the diminutive Morton during this week's scout team drills. All three wore red jerseys with the corresponding numbers of USC's deadly trio.

"We do that so our defensive unit knows where those guys are and what they might do when certain plays out of certain formations are called,'' McMackin said. "In my mind, they are as good as anyone in the country on offense. Not only do they have those skill guys, but they're offensive line is back as well.''

That means Hawaii's defensive front has to find a way to penetrate to not only keep Morton off-balance, but put pressure on Palmer while he's in the pocket. If he has time to throw, somebody is going to break free for a big play.

"We may give up some big plays against a team like USC,'' UH secondary coach Rich Miano said. "USC has the kind of athletes on offense who are difficult to contain.''

The game within the game is between Tucker and Soward. Tucker is Hawaii's best cover man. That's one reason he was shifted from right to left cornerback. He has watched Soward on film and believes he's ready for the challenge.

"He likes to run the curl routes and try to break free that way,'' Tucker said. "He also runs the deep post, so you have to be ready. I'm excited about this opportunity to face him. It's why you play the game.''


Jones wishes he had breakaway threats like Soward and Morton. Instead, most of his starting receivers will rely on proper routes and right reads to move the football against an inexperienced USC defense.

Top wideout Attrice Brooks and fellow junior college standout Jamal Garland possess speed to be deep threats, but they aren't comfortable enough in the offense to be steady contributors.

Jones believes he can exploit a Trojan secondary that has three new faces in it, but it comes down to whether quarterback Dan Robinson and his myriad receivers are all on the same page.

"USC's defense may not be as well known as the offense, but they've got a lot of young guys coming up who are going to be very good,'' Jones said. "The thing that impresses me is their speed. We may not know who all these guys are yet, but we will someday.''

To keep these guys from racing after Robinson, the UH running game must be effective. The top three backs for the Rainbows are Afatia Thompson, Avion Weaver and Robert Grant.

All three have different styles. Thompson is a good blocker and solid runner inside; Weaver is similar to Thompson, but with a little more speed; and Grant has a slashing style that can pose problems for this young USC defense.

Zeke Moreno is the Trojans' only returning linebacker, which means the two starters in the defensive front - tackles Ennis Davis and Aaron Williams - must try to dominate inside.

"A big key for us is blocking those guys for four quarters,'' Jones said. "It all comes down to how we execute and how well we make our adjustments. It's a difficult task, but I look for our guys to play hard throughout the game.''

UH football bus service

TheBus Aloha Stadium UH Football Express will provide service to Windward and East Honolulu areas for all Rainbow Warrior home games this season, starting with Saturday's opener against USC.

Pick-up locations are in Kaneohe, Kailua, Hawaii Kai, Kahala, Kaimuki, UH, Waikiki and Ala Moana Center.

Buses leave Aloha Stadium 15 minutes after the game ends.

Fares are $2 each way (no change given). No transfers will be accepted, or given, and senior citizen, disabled, monthly and other passes will not be accepted.

For details on routes and times, call 848-5555.



No aloha from the L.A. guys

The L.A. connection for the Hawaii Rainbows isn't going to have any warm aloha for the Southern California Trojans.

Instead, the dozen or so Los Angeles-area players want to exact a measure of revenge and prove they belong on the same field as the No. 21-ranked team.

"When you grow up in Los Angeles, pretty much you're either for USC or UCLA," starting safety Phil Austin said. "Coming out of high school, that's where I wanted to go. I always wanted to go to SC.

"But all the guys SC gets are the big-name people all through high school. I was never like that. This is a chance to show them they made a mistake."

Austin is one of several UH players who grew up in the shadow of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Slotback Ricky Lumford played his high school ball at Crenshaw and knows starting USC defensive tackle Ennis Davis.

UH defensive tackle Tony Tuioti's older brother, George, signed with the Trojans out of high school in 1988. The Santa Ana, Calif., resident also played against USC offensive linemen Matt Welch and Jason Grain, and knows fellow Orange County players such as quarterback Carson Palmer and tailback Malaefou MacKenzie.

"And I've known freshman Lenny Vandermade since we were little kids," Tuioti said. "He's an offensive lineman. If he gets a chance to play, it would be fun going up against him.

"I played against a lot of these guys in high school all-star games. I've always wanted to play against SC, and to finally get a chance here in Hawaii is great."

Lumford echoed that sentiment.

"There's probably going to be a lot of trash talking out there," Lumford said. "But it's all part of it. All the guys on our team from the L.A. area are really looking forward to this opportunity."

Include wide receiver Dwight Carter in that group. Growing up, the Santa Monica High graduate said he wasn't a fan of either USC or UCLA, but is excited about the chance to face L.A.'s best.

"It's a big game for me because it's my home school," Carter said. "I only know a couple of guys, but just playing against SC is going to do it for me."

Tickets going fast

UH officials announced there are only 4,000 tickets remaining for this Saturday's game.

If the game is sold out by tomorrow, it's possible Channel 5 will attempt to broadcast the game live locally. At this time, it will be shown delayed Saturday at 9 p.m.

The 1,500 $3 student tickets in the north end zone are sold out.

Injury update

Austin sat out of this morning's practice with a slight groin pull, but is expected to play in this Saturday's game.

"It's just a little tight," Austin said. "I'll be fine. With Nate (Jackson) out, I'll be playing free safety."

Jackson had athroscopic surgery on his knee on Monday and is expected to be out four to six weeks. The Waianae High product bent down to pick up a pen over the weekend and his slightly sprained knee locked on him.

With him out, Austin moved from starting right cornerback to safety, clearing the way for local sophomore Jacob Espiau to move up the depth chart.

"Jacob is going to see some playing time for us," UH head coach June Jones said. "We awarded him a scholarship because he's making such an impact."

The secondary and outside linebacker have been the hardest hit areas by injury. Left outside linebacker Bo Espinoza (hamstring) and right side counterpart Robert Kemfort (ankle) missed significant practice time, but are probable this weekend.

By Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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