Hawaii's focus on hitting surely a sick proposition


POSTED: Thursday, March 25, 2010

What Greg McMackin has to say is going to make some of you feel great, right now.

But you'll be under the weather in the next four weeks, at various times, all of a sudden. You're going to feel lousy enough to call in sick a few times. And you'll miraculously get better in time to head out to Manoa and watch the University of Hawaii football team's spring practices.

Two words will be responsible for this mysterious pattern of malady and recovery.

Tackle football.

“;We're gonna take 'em down,”; said McMackin, the UH head coach. “;More physical things this spring.”;

But don't blink. Every drill won't be about drilling ball carriers.

“;Shots of full-speed (tackling),”; said McMackin, who has no desire to put the Warriors' trainers to work and employ their supply of crutches. “;But we have to be smart about it and we want to stay healthy.”;

Since taking over for June Jones two years ago, McMackin, who used to be the defensive coordinator, has worked to return UH football to a place where defense isn't an afterthought. A place where the X's are as prominent as the O's, if not more. A place where hitting opposing running backs with perfect tackles is emphasized as much as hitting receivers with perfect passes.

There's a reason for the escalating of contact other than entertaining practice observers.

“;We have to find out who our linebackers are,”; said McMackin, who loses starters Blaze Soares and R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane. “;We have Brashton (Satele) and everyone else is pretty new.”;

Satele is even a question mark, since his appeal for another season of eligibility resembles the status of my 1040 — filed, but no happy return yet.

Of course, the Warriors can't forget about the offense. That cavity at the line of scrimmage ain't gonna get magically filled by itself and if it's not fixed it might hurt a lot in the future. McMackin believes Gordon Shaw has the players to fill the pukas and the skill to mold them into an efficient unit.

Maybe the Warriors can enjoy the best of both worlds, maybe they can strike a balance. They're going to have to if they want to improve on last year's 6-7 record.

The run-and-shoot is being tweaked. McMackin has always been a believer in the four-receiver sets. But now he says it's going to be a little different ... his magic formula is 75 percent run-and-shoot, 25 percent “;Colts, Patriots and some of what Cincinnati does.”;

McMackin won't comment on his internal coaching shuffle until he officially tells the players Monday, but he does warn us to “;be ready for anything.”;

I'm pretty sure “;anything”; might mean quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich — who took over play-calling duties last year — becoming at least a co-offensive coordinator with Ron Lee. It only makes sense.

Rumors you may have heard about Ron and his brother, defensive coordinator Cal Lee, leaving UH for a return to Saint Louis School aren't true, at least for now. Both will be at Manoa this spring ... but the tales of them taking the open Crusaders AD and football coach jobs just won't die, sort of like how people insist on believing most of the committee that helped Jim Donovan find a new basketball coach all went to Punahou.

At any rate, it's time to work on that fake-sick voice. Spring practice is upon us, and Greg McMackin says the Warriors will hit.


Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at, and