Archive for November, 2008

A bonus victory

November 30th, 2008

It's been a long year.
The Sugar Bowl. June Jones' departure. Greg McMackin's promotion. Recruiting. The quarterback carousel. The 1-2 start, and the come-from-ahead losses to San Jose State and Utah State.
That's why it was nice to see the Warriors celebrate their clinching of a winning regular season.
Best of all, they really are happy to be going to the Sheraton Hawai‘i Bowl.
While the rest of us had a great time at the Sugar Bowl — Hurricanes, Johnny White's, Willie K on New Year's Eve — the players didn't get to do much. A few of them said that they prefer the Hawai‘i Bowl because they get to do more things and they're at home.

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Greg McMackin placed Post-It notes with "$" on the doors of his assistant coaches the past week.
The victory over Washington State means the UH assistant coaches get bonuses.

Game Day: Washington State

November 29th, 2008

• Tyler Graunke has resolved his "personal matters" and participated in yesterday's walk-through.

• Defensive back Ryan Mouton won't play because of a high-ankle sprain. But to see him toss long spirals on the sideline invokes what-if thoughts. As part of the two-game move to slotback, there was an option-pass play implemented for Mouton. It never was used, but it would have been fun to see.

• One of the best plays I've seen occurred on Malcolm Lane's 82-yard touchdown catch-and-sprint last week. An Idaho defensive end was aligned to UH's far right. The end drifts a little, trying to hide behind a tackle, then loops through an area vacated in the middle. Farmer somehow notices the stealth defensive end. Farmer tracks the end as he sneaks behind the tackle, then blocks him on the pass rush. I kept going back and forth on the video — rewind-play, rewind-play, rewind-play — and I still can't figure out how Farmer spotted the d-end. Without the block, there's no touchdown pass, Idaho still would be in the umbrella coverage and the game's tone is different. As Mack always says, when all 11 do their job ...

• A regular who attends practice has been focusing on one defensive player. He was amazed by Mouton — the stance, the way he breaks to the ball, his instinct in jumping routes. The regular focused on David Veikune last week. Every down is a battle, the regular observed, and Veikune never slowed down the entire game. Veikune was in for 55 snaps last week — more than double his average playing time last season. I think we'll be seeing Mouton and Veikune on Sundays.


Breathtaking experience

November 28th, 2008

If you're a reporter, you always try to avoid Skippa Diaz.
Diaz, the former Farrington High coach, is a great guy. He's funny, and he always had great observations. Thing is, he has a killer handshake.
He used to attend UH football games regularly, and when I would see him, I would get that same feeling I used to get at Roosevelt when Baba ("Would You LIke to Donate to My Christmas Fund") Puha would approach.
After a while, I used to make Diaz shake my left (non-writing) hand.
Which is why I'm grateful for the popularity of the knuckle bump.
All of this is a round-about way of saying that punter Tim Grasso's father is in town. Mark Grasso also is a great guy. Smart, funny and he looks like he's 25. But he's a hugger, and he hugs as if you're choking on a fish bone. He gave me the accordion hug yesterday. He even Heimlich'd Robert Kekaula. Twice. As Dan Jenkins once wrote, you don't get a greeting like that without exchanging jewelry.
So if you see Grasso's dad, give him the knuckle bump.

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Meanwhile, Tim Grasso, who was raised in Utah, is enjoying Hawai‘i. Last week, he bought a car.
"It definitely makes me appreciate the island more," he said. "My life doesn't consist of the locker room to school to my door. It expanded."
He already has been to Maunawili Falls — the A-House's neighborhood — and Sandy's twice.

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Here's former UH offensive lineman Mark Nua:


And here's Nua next to 6-foot-3 Robert Kekaula:


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Erik "E-Rob" Robinson is hopeful of playing this weekend. He has been bothered by a hamstring injury:


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And here's defensive tackle Tuika Tufaga showing off his entry in the gun show:


Thanksgiving practice report

November 27th, 2008

Even Thanksgiving could not significantly alter the Warriors' preparation for Saturday's game against Washington State.
The Warriors practiced for about 90 minutes this morning — 30 minutes shorter than a usual Thursday practice.
Instead of dismissing the team for Thanksgiving, the Warriors were fed a training-table meal, then went to team meetings and video sessions.
"We're not wasting a day," head coach Greg McMackin said.
It appears unlikely Kealoha Pilares and Ryan Mouton will be able to play. If they're not available, expect these scenarios:
• Daniel Libre, who is recovering from an abdominal injury, will be the speed back.
• Aaron Bain will return punts.
• Desmond Thomas will start at free safety and, in situations involving five defensive backs, Richard Torres will enter as the nickelback.
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Mark Nua, now an actor in Australia, attended today's practice. I forgot my camera cord at home. When I get it, I'll post a picture of Nua and Robert Kekaula. Guess who looks smaller?

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Hiflyer wins the volleyball tickets for tomorrow's match.

Hold your breath

November 26th, 2008

During repair work on the UH athletic complex, the presence of asbestos was detected.
An asbestos-removal project for the first floor is set for next week. According to a person familiar with the situation, those working there were told not to work there Monday and Tuesday. Alhough the project will last the entire week, those deemed "essential" are asked to return Wednesday.
But employees are understandably wary. One employee is pregnant and in her second trimester.
Another employee had been working in an office where asbestos was supposedly found.
There is a three-stage process. The third floor is set for asbestos removal in mid-January — the home stretch of football recruiting.

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A Cadillac blocked the path where I usually park for practice. Grrr. Turns out the owner is Rinda Brooks, one of the Greg McMackin's first great pass-rushers. He still looks like he can play. I guess, he can park there. This time.

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We're giving away two tickets to Friday's volleyball match between WAC champion UH and Cal Poly. If you post today, you're automatically entered in the drawing.