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Hammer time

April 23rd, 2014

The good news is UH's track and field team has some powerful throwers.

The not-so-good news is they need a better place to practice. There are too many divots after workouts on the grass soccer field or Clarence T.C. Ching Field's Sports Turf, creating potential hazards for soccer, football and intramural players using those fields. A designated throwing area also is not conducive; two throws struck HECO lines.

The athletic department, of course, does not need any more expenses. But an investment today might save money in the long run.

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Wayne Moses deserves praise for the improved play of the tight ends.

Moses, who was hired a week before the start of spring training, is listed as the running back coach. But he also works with the H-backs and tight ends. Phil Rauscher, who coached the tight ends the past two seasons, was not retained.

Tight end Jordan Pu‘u-Robinson was playing well before suffering an injury to his right ring finger. Josh Long, a JC transfer who redshirted in 2013, has had a solid spring training. Tui Unga is making the adjustment to Division I. Justin Vele also has played well as a hybrid fullback/tight end.



Depth perception

April 22nd, 2014

A couple weeks ago, a sportscaster (who hopes you all are having a pleasant evening) marveled at the leg strength of No. 36. The rest of us scramble-searched the roster to identify Ceejay Santos as No. 36.

That's what happens when a football team begins to develop depth. Each practice, there seems to be a forgotten player who seizes the spotlight — morning light? — even for just one play.

The first spring practice, we scramble-searched No. 5 (slotback Quinton Pedroza) and No. 44 (tight end Tui Unga). And then, wait, there's another No. 44, on defense who's not Unga and not on the roster? We then were told there was an updated roster, this time listing linebacker Elijah Mataele as the second No. 44. For a while, No. 26 (Jason Muraoka) was running with the 2s before he suffered a hamstring injury, leading to the return of No. 34 (Faga Wily), who had been excused from practices while awaiting the birth of his first child. No. 87 (tight end Harold Moleni) also was excused as he prepared for the birth of his son, leading to the surprisingly strong play of No. 85 (tight end Jordan Pu‘u-Robinson). After Pu‘u-Robinson suffered a finger injury that kept him from contact drills, No. 88 (tight end Josh Long) stepped up. Long redshirted in 2013 after suffering a concussion prior to training camp. No. 42 (linebacker Austin Slade-Matautia) made  the interview-request list after one practice. Yesterday, No. 24 (Keahi Hogan) was requested. "Hogan? Is he on the team?" a UH official wondered. Hogan had missed practices while recovering from an injury, but he indeed was on the team, and he made a few good plays as a safety yesterday.

And that's why there's spring training.

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The author of the petition protesting the volume of UH's practices said petitioners are not seeking the workouts to move to 9 a.m. Instead, they are requesting that the "music and air-horn be disallowed at any time prior to 9 a.m., yet that at 9:01 a.m. the music may commence."

Quiet on the set

April 21st, 2014

In only-in-Hawaii scenarios, Campus Security showed up twice last week to notify the coaches about a complaint that the morning spring practices were too loud.

The Warriors have muted the speakers and turned them away from the dormitories. There's even less yelling at practices.

Still, there reportedly is a petition being circulated that seeks to move practices  to a 9 a.m. start. The Warriors' school-day practices begin at 7:15 a.m. They practice at 10:15 on Saturdays.

UH conducted 7 a.m. practices for nine years under June Jones and four years under Greg McMackin. Practices started at 3 p.m. in 2012, Norm Chow's first season at UH, before reverting to the morning schedule last year at the request of the players' leadership council.

Morning workouts enable  players to practice, then participate in the training table before attending classes.

Sunday musings

April 20th, 2014

Joyous Easter to all.

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Thoughts this Sunday:

> The coaches are sticking to their promise of not naming a No. 1 quarterback until this August. That keeps the competition fair to Taylor Graham, who continues to rehab a surgically repaired shoulder; to Beau Reilly, who has been a spectator at spring practices and officially joins in  June; to perhaps USC's Max Wittek and the other FBS quarterbacks who have expressed interest in transferring to UH. It also is important that Ikaika Woolsey has made significant steps to playing as a No. 1 quarterback. It is one thing to have an open competition; it is another to have competitive competition. Woolsey is showing he can be a quarterback who can run this offense effectively. Whether he is named No. 1 or not, at least a standard is being set.

> There are at least four QBs from FBS programs who have expressed interest in transferring to Hawaii, which remains an attractive destination.

> It started as an experiment, but Ben Clarke and Kody Afusia are thriving at their new positions. Both have high football IQs and solid techniques, particularly agile footwork. Clark, who started at center during his 24-game UH career, seems like a natural at left tackle. It's an art to snapping and then firing into a block. Now, Clarke said, "I just have to focus on making plays." The past year, Afusia has emerged as a leader. He usually leads every running drill involving the linemen. Afusia has mediated disputes, unified a line that is diverse culturally and chronologically, and set a no-bitching standard. Plus, he's vocal, making him a logical choice to play center. That's also the position Afusia was recruited to play.

> In a by-the-numbers system, blitzes will originate from the edges. But defensive coordinator Kevin Clune's system is anything but predictable. And that's why yesterday's best blitzer was inside linebacker Tevita Lataimua, who had four backfield tackles, including two sacks. "If the outside guys are doing their job and keeping the guys in, then we can do our job," Lataimua said. "If we can force them to the outside, (the outside linebackers) can do their thing." Clune noted the one tendency is there are no tendencies. "We're going to bring people from everywhere," Clune said. "We're going to do a lot of different stuff. Everyone has that potential to bring pressure to the quarterback. When the time comes and your number is called, you have to make the most of it." Lataimua answered the call yesterday.

> Here's a pop quiz: Name as many DBs in 10 seconds. Time's up. Bet you forgot to name Mike Martin. This spring, Martin has filled in for injured safety Marrell Jackson, worked shifts at nickelback, and played on every special-team unit. He brings a workmanlike approach to every practice. The coaches were paying attention. Martin has been awarded a football scholarship. It goes into effect in June.

> Belated congratulations to tight end Harold Moleni and his wife. They're proud parents of 1-week-old son Genesis. "It was life-changing,"  Moleni said of the birth. "It was a special moment." Fatherhood, he said, "makes you want to be a better man." They chose the Biblical name because it means "the beginning." He said: "It works with our faith."

> Kudos to athletic director Ben Jay for announcing that prices will not increase for season-ticket renewals. The next step should be to start renewal sales right now. This is spring ball. There's some good feelings. And many tax refunds should be showing up in the mail right now. It would be a good strategy for the postman to be delivering renewal forms at the same time.

> I had a dream that the blog's type size got larger.

QB to join Warriors as walk-on

April 19th, 2014


Quarterback Eric Prater, who spent the past few years in the U.S. Army Airborne Special Forces, will be joining the Rainbow Warriors as a walk-on this summer.

Prater is 6-2 and about 210 pounds.

Prater, who is 23, will  have four years to play four UH seasons.

He was a pitcher at Lake Havasu (Wash.) High, with a fastball timed at 92 mph, before playing football as a senior.

He was on Northern Arizona's roster in 2010, but did not play in any games, before enlisting in the Army.

Prater has been attending spring practices as a spectator.

Here are his highlights: Prater video.

(C'mon, admit it, after that first throw you thought,  "Wow.")

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I ran into Alika Smith last night. His son Jalen is 6 feet 3. Jalen is in the eighth grade.

And the 2018 recruiting class begins to take shape …