Wednesday, November 8, 2000
In a move designed to get the three best linebackers on the field, University of Hawaii head coach June Jones moved Pisa Tinoisamoa into the middle, and Rinda Brooks and Anthony Smith to the outside.
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The shift is two-fold. One, it allows Tinoisamoa a month to grow into a position he's likely to own the next several seasons. And two, it doesn't put Brooks and his leadership on the bench, but rather, places him in a position he will probably be more comfortable in the rest of the way.
"We're just trying to put the best players on the field," Jones said today. "Rinda and Anthony are interchangeable. They can play both outside positions if we need them to.
"We want Pisa to develop into our middle linebacker because we believe he's going to be a difference-maker. But we're also looking to win some games. We're not thinking about next year yet."
UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa backed that sentiment.
"It's true, Pisa is our middle linebacker of the future," Lempa said. "Starting in the middle the last four games should help him develop into a better football player. But we're just trying to win some games this year. I'm not even thinking about next year. We need to show some immediate improvement, hopefully starting this weekend against Nevada."
The odd man out in this lineup is outside linebacker Bronson Liana. He has started the last three games, but hasn't developed the instincts of playing this position. At this point, the transplanted quarterback and defensive back needs more time.
"Bronson was doing his best for us," Lempa said. "And we feel like he'll be fine once he gets more experience. To play a position well, you need at least two years to grow into it. Bronson will still see some time, but he won't start on Saturday."
For Brooks, this is a move he has been waiting for of late. Despite being the second-leading tackler with 78, including one sack, the senior from Houston has always been more comfortable on the outside.
"You know me," Brooks recently said. "I like to run to the football. But you can't do that as much from the middle. You have to take on the blocker and then choose the right gap to shoot. It's a lot tougher in there."
Injury updateDefensive lineman Mike Iosua took a big step back at today's practice, and will likely not play in this Saturday's final Western Athletic Conference game of the season at Aloha Stadium.
Jones didn't rule out the talented tackle, who missed the last game with a bad ankle, but said it was iffy at best.
"I'm hopeful he and Robert Kemfort (bruised ribs) can give it a go," Jones said. "We feel like Vincent Manuwai will make it back this week. We need him in there protecting our quarterback."
Manuwai aggravated a hamstring pull against San Jose State and missed last week's game at Fresno State. So did Kemfort, but it's possible he'll make it back.
Hawaii has several other players battling the normal aches and pains of playing in eight games. They include defensive linemen Miles Garner (ankle), Doug Sims (knee) and Lui Fuga (shoulder). Safeties Nate Jackson and Jacob Espiau are also playing through a variety of bumps and bruises, but will be ready to go this weekend.
"We're still pretty banged up," Jones said. "But we just have to suck it up and play. That's how it goes in this game."
Chang under centerJones announced at today's practice that Tim Chang will be his starting quarterback this weekend. Chang missed the Fresno State game due to a concussion he suffered against San Jose State nearly two weeks ago.
"He's feeling a lot better and will be our guy," Jones said. "It's already been decided. There's no controversy here."
Chang told reporters after this morning's workout that he feels fit for duty and is ready to play. He was cleared by team physician Andrew Nichols at the beginning of the week.
The freshman quarterback was woozy most of last week after the helmet-to-helmet collision with San Jose State middle linebacker Josh Parry. Chang felt as if he were letting down the team by not being able to play, but said the headaches and the fatigue were too severe.
"He's throwing the football well and has made a complete recovery," Jones said. "It just took a little longer than we expected."
Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin