Alonzo Chopp, left, ran the ball yesterday during Hawaii's spring practice on the school's lower campus.

Hitting is a hit
at UH practice

The Warriors’ sessions still feature
no tackling, but defenders are getting
a little more physical

Defensive players knocked offensive players off their feet at Hawaii's football practice yesterday.

And it was no April Fool's joke.

With its previous practice philosophy of don't-feed-the-linebackers, Hawaii was the best place in college football to be a scout-team running back. Those days appear to be over.

One member of the defense put it this way: "I have one suggestion. Play-action pass."

Technically, UH still doesn't tackle very much in practice. But the hard touch was a lot harder than usual yesterday, defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville's first official morning on the job and the Warriors' first day of spring practice in full pads.

In past camps, there was emphasis on making sure no one hit the ground, even when the first-string defenders took on the scout team. That wasn't the case yesterday morning.

"We saw the start of a new beginning today," said an enthused inside linebackers coach Cal Lee, who is not prone to exaggeration. "What happened last year is over with."

Kahuku alumnus Inoke Funaki ran the scout team during yesterday's Hawaii football practice.

UH's difficulty at stopping opposing offenses last fall is well-documented. Many believe lack of tackling in practice is the leading culprit for that problem. But when June Jones brought Glanville aboard, the head coach said things would remain the same. Glanville says they have, but the intensity has been ramped up.

"It's still no tackling," Glanville said. "It's the same thing June and I did in the NFL way back when."

Junior cornerback Kenny Patton said there was a different feel yesterday than at pre-Glanville practices -- and it had nothing to do with the driving rain of the last half hour.

"Definitely. We're trying to run through guys now, get as many hats as possible on the ball," Patton said. "That's football, it's a physical game. But we're definitely not trying to kill anyone."

Defensive backs coach Rich Miano played for UH when the Rainbows were known for having a hard-hitting defense. He said yesterday reminded him of the old days.

"That's what the people of Hawaii want. The state of Hawaii loves the mentality of hard-hitting defense. It's a gang-tackling, swarming type of defense," Miano said. "Coach Glanville wants them to hit and tackle, but not hurt our own team. He's emphasizing gang-tackling, everyone swarming to the ball. Playing with enthusiasm and passion."

Lee didn't want to point out any standouts on the first day of heavy hitting.

"For the first day in pads, they all did a good job of rallying to the ball," Lee said. "The thing is, though, when you go faster and hit harder, you make more mistakes. We made some mistakes, but that's part of the process of getting better."

Walsh visits: Bill Walsh, who led the 49ers to three Super Bowl wins, made it three former NFL coaches at practice yesterday when the Hall of Famer visited with Jones and Glanville.

"His were always the hardest defenses to prepare for," Walsh said of Glanville, who was defensive coordinator and head coach of the Oilers and Falcons. "He was tough to coach against.

"I don't know if he'll get his Harley over here, but if he does, you'll hear him in the middle of the night."

Walsh was in town to give a speech to Hawaii high school coaches earlier this week.

Short yardage: True freshman Inoke Funaki ran the scout team yesterday. ... Junior receiver Jason Rivers, who is working on rehabilitating his grades at a community college, observed practice yesterday.

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