Archive for March, 2008

It’s started

March 31st, 2008
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7 a.m.: First spring practice starts the way sports practices have started since anyone can remember … you guessed it, jumping jacks.

Coaches Gerke, Miano, and Smith on the field so far.

7:05 a.m.: Apparently, reserve defensive end Victor Clore and reserve offensive lineman Daniel Otineru are injured. They’re on the sideline along with several other injured Warriors reported last week.

7:06 a.m: Calisthenics with Mel deLaura are pau, now some speed drills with Rich Miano.

7:10 a.m: Erik Robinson and Viliami Nauahi aren’t going to do team drills this spring due to injuries, but they are running around the field. Fale Laeli (recovering from knee surgery) is on the exercise bike.

Camera crews from four stations are here.

7:36 a.m: The players have moved to their position groups. All six quarterbacks are throwing.

7:43 a.m.: Coach McMackin is roaming the various groups as the assistants drill the players in individual fundamental techniques.

7:52: a.m.: Something new — McMackin grants an in-practice TV interview. I’m guessing this was set up ahead of time to accommodate a morning show that ends at 8 a.m.

7:57 a.m.: So far, the first hour is similar to UH practices of recent years. It is kind of a back to the future feel, though, with Nick Rolovich, Brian Smith, Chris Brown and Craig Stutzmann out here.

7:59 a.m.: Mike Washington just made a great adjustment on a pass to make a diving catch.

8:17 a.m.: Plenty of fans here this morning — including two ultra-regulars. Willie Monteilh (father of safety Keao Monteilh) and Leona Watson (wife of Keala). These two rarely miss a practice.

8:30 a.m.: Brian McInnis reporting from watching the guys in orange. QB rotation: Inoke Funaki 3 reps, Tyler Graunke 2, Shane Austin 2, Jake Santos 2. Repeat.

Got to go now and get ready for interviews. I’ll be back later to update.

UPDATE: McMackin says he was very pleased with just about everything today. Said it was organized. He was very pleasantly surprised with the first-day accuracy of the quarterbacks. Ron Lee said things were “chaotic,” but they will get better. Lee and Brian Smith were pleased with the center-QB exchanges, since this was the first real practice with a lot of under-center snaps in a long time. Trivia: Ron Lee was football coach of Kelvin Shoji (Dave’s brother) at Kalani High School in 1970.

Good kine scraps

March 30th, 2008
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Here are some quotes that Brian McInnis won’t be able to get into his story for tomorrow’s paper:

Ron Lee on the importance of spring practice for the players: “At the end of spring ball, they want to be in the top two, because we got five JC guys that are coming that are pretty good, in the receivers alone.”

Lee on the status of the quarterback candidates: “Tyler and Inoke … I would say they’ll be competing for number ones. And Shane Austin has had a good offseason of conditioning. We watched him lift. He’s in it. Everybody’s kind of in the same boat. Kiran Kepo’o and Jake Santos. It’s finding that solid one and two and giving them reps.”

Nick Rolovich on the cyclical nature of football: “I’m excited to see how we’re going to work together as an offensive staff. Not only just the offense, but the staff. Some change, some tweaks on offense. That’s what you gotta do, because football is ever-changing, and it also works in a circle sometimes where things may have worked 20 years ago and it’s working now, similar for different reasons.”

Rolovich on the health of Kiran Kepo’o: “As far as I know, he’s cleared to participate in spring ball. That’s the plan.”

(Kepo’o had a checkup last week to get cleared. He suffered head trauma after being knocked off his bicycle last fall.)

Tyler Graunke: “Coach Lee has his own thing going on, and he tweaks (the run-and-shoot) a little bit.”

Inoke Funaki: “I want to show to the coaches and the team that I am confident and able to direct this team in the offense to the best of my ability.”

Spring in my step … Our version of “Cover 3″

March 29th, 2008
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I have to admit I used to hate spring football practice. I always thought of it as a waste of time.

But after covering UH football as the Star-Bulletin’s beat writer the past seven seasons, I’ve grown to appreciate its value — especially for the players and coaches.

Everyone can easily tell who the very best players are on a football team, but even for the trained eyes of a Greg McMackin or a Ron Lee, it takes time to evaluate most players and determine how they will mesh as part of a team.

And for the players, fall camp isn’t always enough time to make an impression, or to learn, by doing, the offensive or defensive schemes.

With a new coaching staff and nearly every job on offense up for grabs, these next few weeks will be even more interesting than the spring of 2005, when the search for Tim Chang’s replacement began, and the Warriors began developing the core of a team that went 23-4 in 2006 and 2007.

So with that mindset, I’m genuinely looking forward to the start of spring practice Monday.

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Jason Kaneshiro, Brian McInnis and I ran triple coverage on Greg McMackin and grilled the coach at Eastside Grill the other day. Between bites of, appropriately, “Mack” salad (double-order), the new UH coach sated our hunger for information. The result is a two-part Q and A, first part tomorrow. Our Sunday coverage on the eve of spring practice also includes Jason’s feature on the Lee brothers (I think our page designers are going to use some cool photos from their Kaiser days), capsules on each position group, and sports editor Paul Arnett’s column on the changing of the guard.

UCSD beats UCLA for first time

March 28th, 2008
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LA JOLLA, Calif. – For the first time in school history, the UC San Diego men’s volleyball team defeated No. 8 UCLA 26-30, 30-25, 32-30, 31-33, 15-9 on Friday night in RIMAC Arena. The win was UCSD’s first over the Bruins in 34 meetings. Jason Spangler slammed down a career-best 30 kills and Eric Leserman became UCSD’s career-leader in digs with a match-high 19. After dropping a heartbreaking game four, UCSD was on fire in the fifth game, led by Gerald Houseman’s five kills. The Tritons hit at a .556 clip and held the Bruins to just .000 in the final game. With the win, UCSD improves to 8-15, 4-13 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation while the Bruins drop to 14-11, 9-8 MPSF.

The eight wins for the Tritons ties a single-season school record.

Other scores from Friday
USC def. Pacific, 30-18, 30-16, 31-29
Pepperdine def. Stanford, 30-22, 30-27, 31-29
BYU def. UC Santa Barbara 25-30, 30-25, 29-31, 30-24, 15-11
CSU Northridge def. Hope International, 30-20, 30-22, 30-20

Pro Timing Day Roster … This and that at running back

March 28th, 2008
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These are the players who will be at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Tuesday, April 1, for UH’s Pro Timing Day. They’ll be worked out by NFL scouts. Rich Miano is coordinating for UH, and Greg McMackin plans to attend.

Davone Bess, Colt Brennan, Frank Fernandez, Ryan Grice-Mullins, C.J. Hawthorne, Brad Kalilimoku, Ryan Keomaka, Mike Lafaele, Jason Laumoli, Gerard Lewis, Myron Newberry, Karl Noa, Timo Paepule, Jacob Patek, Amani Purcell, Jason Rivers, Nate Russell, Hercules Satele, Larry Sauafea and Siave Seti.

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Couple of interesting tidbits from Ron Lee today:

Mario Cox is bracketed with Dave Farmer, behind Daniel Libre/Leon Wright-Jackson at running back.

Lee said Cox could get some meaningful playing time in the fall.

Libre and Wright-Jackson will both spend some time at slot this spring, but not that much, and mostly in individual drills learning routes and techniques. Lee pointed out that Libre knows much of it already, since he was a slot before moving to RB last season.

Korey Reynolds is still a running back, at least for now.