Thursday, December 23, 1999
will be like
good old days
The staffs for Oregon StateASUs Smith may go pro
and Hawaii have crossed paths
at one point in their coaching careers
By Paul Arnett
The lineage between these two coaching staffs is of Old Testament variety.
First, you have Hawaii defensive coordinator Greg McMackin working several seasons with Oregon State head coach Dennis Erickson back in the day.
It was McMackin's aggressive defensive packages that resulted in the Seattle Seahawks setting an NFL record last year with 14 defensive touchdowns. McMackin also was Erickson's defensive coordinator at Miami (Fla.).
Second, Oregon State defensive coordinator Willy Robinson served as McMackin's secondary coach at Miami and Seattle. Like McMackin, the zone blitz is Robinson's best friend.
Third, Oregon State assistant head coach Gregg Smith and offensive coordinator Tim Lappano were also McMackin mates. Smith was at Miami and Seattle, while Lappano served as the running backs coach for the Seahawks last year.
"It's kind of like a family affair," said McMackin.
And let's not forget about Oregon State linebacker coach Greg Newhouse. He coached the Rainbows' secondary in 1988-89. He took part in the Aloha Bowl as did current UH associate head coach George Lumpkin.
Aloha BowlWho: Arizona State vs. Wake Forest
When: Saturday, 10:30 a.m.
Oahu BowlWho: Hawaii vs. Oregon State
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium
Gates: Parking lot opens at 7:30 a.m., stadium turnstiles at 9 a.m.
Tickets: $45 sidelines, $30 end zone.
You would think all this familiarity would breed contempt, but as the two teams prepare for this Saturday's Oahu Bowl at Aloha Stadium, everyone has remained on a friendly basis.
"That doesn't mean we don't want to beat each other," McMackin said, then smiled. "I'm sure both sides will reveal a new wrinkle or two from the playbook."
Erickson and UH head coach June Jones have a little history themselves. They coached against each other in an AFC West game between Seattle and San Diego, a game the Seahawks won handily.
When OSU has the ballAs similar as the defensive styles may be, there are variations in the offensive philosophies. True, both teams use one back and like to spread you out with three, four and five wideouts.
"But they use a tight end a lot of the time and that's something we have to account for," McMackin said. "In passing situations, they may take him out to go four-wide or even empty the backfield and have five guys in the pattern.
"Coach Erickson is a disciple of Jack Elway. He has taken that philosophy and done some of his own things. Like June, he is an offensive genius, an innovator who other coaches copy."
Despite all the bells and whistles, Erickson primarily relies on the running ability of tailback Ken Simonton. He needs only 196 yards to become the Beavers' all-time rusher as a sophomore.
"When you look at Hawaii's defense, the strength of the team is the speed of the linebackers," Simonton said. "But I believe we can run on anybody."
A lot of teams have run on the Rainbows with moderate success. Hawaii finished 91st nationally against the run, allowing 186.7 yards a game. Simonton was second in the Pac-10 in rushing with 1,329 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Oregon State also throws the ball effectively. Sophomore quarterback Jonathan Smith passed for 2,784 yards and 15 touchdowns. Senior wideout Imani Percoats was his favorite target. The 6-foot-3, 202-pound wideout caught 46 passes for 749 yards.
"Their defensive backs aren't that big, so we think we might be able to take advantage of that," Smith said. "Their defense is very similar to ours, but I'm sure they'll throw something different at us."
When UH has the ballJones has said all along that he didn't expect too many surprises from the Oregon State defense. Like Hawaii, the Beavers like to come at you from all angles.
"They probably have some of the better athletes we'll face this season," Jones said. "They are particularly good in the back end. Their secondary has good speed and they close to the ball well."
The key to the Beavers' secondary is freshman cornerback Dennis Weathersby. While most zone-blitz packages require the secondary to play a zone, look for Weathersby wherever Dwight Carter goes.
"They told me I'd pretty much be guarding him when we're in man," Weathersby said. Which prompted OSU defensive coordinator Robinson to say to the reporter asking the question, "Now, I'm going to have to kill you."
But it's no big secret that Weathersby is OSU's cover-corner. He leads the team in pass breakups with 17 and was named second team All-Pac-10.
"He's as good as they say," Jones said of the 6-1, 203-pound defensive back. "We'll just have to deal with their schemes during the course of the game."
Oregon State is first in the Pac-10 and ninth in the country in pass efficiency with a rating of 98.9. By comparison, Hawaii is No. 52 nationally with a 117.1 rating.
Like the Rainbows, the Beavers can be had on the ground. They are yielding 164.4 yards a game. But they are still second in the Pac-10 in total defense, yielding 355.6 yards a game.
This is probably the last collegiate game for Arizona State offensive tackle Marvel Smith. Despite having one year of eligibility remaining, it's likely the 6-foot-6, 314-pounder will jump to the NFL.
Aloha/Oahu Bowl Notebook
ASUs Smith may go pro
"I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet,"' Smith said yesterday. "I really love the college atmosphere and hanging out with my teammates. All I'm thinking about right now is Wake Forest and this bowl game."
Rated the third-best tackle by The Sporting News, the first team All-America made zero assignment errors and yielded only one quarterback sack all season. That's not bad for a lineman who, as a sophomore at Oakland's Skyline High School, tipped the scales at a svelte 170 pounds.
"If Marvel decides to enter the NFL draft this spring, he'll definitely go in the first round,"' ASU head coach Bruce Snyder said. "In my mind, he's the best left tackle out there. He just doesn't make many mental mistakes and he's strong with great footwork.
Smith will need to be at his best in this Saturday's Aloha Bowl game with Wake Forest. With the quarterback situation still up in the air, Smith realizes he will not only have to be solid in the running game, but be on the top of his game in pass protection as well.
"Whoever plays quarterback (John Leonard or Griffin Goodman) will probably be a little nervous," Smith said. "It will be up to the line to do a good job of protecting the passer and give him some time to settle in.
"We're going to approach this game like any other. We're going to try to run and pass. I believe we'll be able to do both if we can go out and do our job up front."'
Unpredictable airWake Forest place-kicker Matt Burdick felt like he was nailing his kicks pretty effectively in the Demon Deacons' first major practice since touching down in Honolulu late Monday afternoon.
"But every time I looked up, the ball was falling several yards shorter than I thought it would," the senior said this morning. "The air is a lot heavier here."
There's also a stronger breeze than the kickers expected.
"Our punters were having problems with their drops because the wind was so strong at practice," Burdick said. "But that's why you come over here early, so you can get used to those kind of things."
Burdick has been a model of consistency in all kinds of weather. He has hit 46 of 67 field goals and 79 of 82 PATs since joining the program in 1996.
"But even though it's windy," Burdick said, "the weather is a lot warmer here. Any kicker will tell you it's a lot tougher to hit a frozen football."
Familiarity breeds successWhenever sophomore quarterback Jonathan Smith watches film of Hawaii's defense, he has to shake his head.
"Their defense is so similar to ours, it's amazing," Smith said. "That allows us to go against our No. 1 defense, which helps with the speed of the game. It's good for us that we can practice against a similar formation and philosophy."'
The reason for the similarity is because UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin coached under Oregon State's Dennis Erickson for years with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL and Miami, Fla., on the college level. Beavers defensive coordinator Willy Robinson worked under McMackin and is a fan of the zone blitz.
"It's a concern," Smith said. "But each week you play, Coach Erickson seems to have some kind of connection or a coach he worked with, so it's not as unusual a thing now."
Games blacked out on OahuBowl Games Hawaii officials announced yesterday that the Aloha and Oahu bowls will be blacked out locally, despite Hawaiian Airlines buying 500 of the 6,000 tickets remaining for the doubleheader.
"We decided to lift the blackout on the neighbor islands for the Oahu Bowl," Bowl Games Hawaii chief executive officer Lenny Klompus said. "The cost to buy all the remaining tickets would have been around $250,000. ESPN doesn't like to black out games, but that's just the way it is."
By Paul Arnett