Warriors share their best-kept secrets
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Maybe we will never understand why University of Hawai'i football coach June Jones never sweats, or why UH wears home jerseys with illegible numbers, or why in the heck the Warriors are playing a game on Maui.
But from the Warriors, we learn:
How a receiver keeps his hands dry: Left slotback Craig Stutzmann has the sort of hands that led to the invention of the double-ply paper towel.
"My hands are clammy," he said, adding that his friends compare his handshake to "a dip in a swimming pool."
Sweaty palms are a no-no for receivers, who are taught to catch with their hands instead of using their gut and forearms.
The NCAA permits only two players, usually the center and quarterback, to wear towels during games.
"You can dry your hands on their towels in the huddle," Stutzmann said.
But if the line is too long, Stutzmann said, "I'll use a trick my dad taught me. He said the driest part (of the uniform) is on your inner thighs. Before a play, I'll wipe my hands there. It really works."
How to tackle: In full gear, safety Nate Jackson weighs 170, maybe. The thing is, receivers and fullbacks come in much heavier packages.
That's when all of those hours in physics and geometry classes become useful. If a ballcarrier is running along the sideline, Jackson will race over and attack the opponent at mid-thigh. Whether it's the angle or speed, "usually it works and the guy goes down," Jackson said.
In head-on plays, Jackson will watch a ballcarrier's hips. "The shoulders and head can be moving and shaking, but the body goes where the hips go," Jackson said.
Jackson will either go for the knockout straight to the chinstrap or, at the least, grab the opponent's jersey and "get him to the ground any way possible."
He has learned that "just by grabbing his jersey, it will slow him down. If you can't bring him down, hopefully help will be there."
Where a line coach should stand: Forget that up-close-and-personal nonsense. Ever watch a game from the front row? It's all arms, legs and Gatorade containers.
Mike Cavanaugh, who coaches the offensive linemen, said the best vantage point is away from the line of scrimmage. If, say, UH has the ball on its 20, he will stand at the UH 30. That gives him a view of his blockers, the defensive linemen and the linebackers. He can spot the blitzes, and how UH counters.
"I want to be as far away from the (line of scrimmage) as I can," Cavanaugh said. "It's a funny thing to say, but you want to look at the butts of your guys or the butts of the others guys. I guess you're seeing the end zone shot, so to speak."
How to grip a football: Quarterback Tim Chang will place his right index finger at the point of the football, with his middle, ring and little fingers on the laces.
"That's my little groove," Chang said.
After receiving the snap, Chang needs only a fraction of a second to grip the football correctly, an adjustment as instinctive as finding your house key on your key chain.
"You know exactly where to go," Chang said, "even in the dark."
How to block: Knowing the snap count, the offensive lineman starts with an advantage.
"We're not paying attention to the ball," right guard Vince Manuwai said. "We're only listening to Timmy's voice."
The first step is to "punch," a technique in which open hands are thrusted onto a defender's chest. "If you punch the right way, you'll stop your opponent's momentum," Manuwai said.
Then Manuwai will try to steer a defender off-balance.
The key, Manuwai said, is hand placement. For a lineman, it is easier to establish control if his hands are on a defender's jersey numbers.
If a lineman's hands are on a defender's shoulder pads "lobster claws," in Cavanaugh's vernacular then, Manuwai said, "Forget it. The guy will move past you."
How to bench press: As the beanpole who won the hotdog-eating contest proved, it's all about technique.
Linebacker Chris Brown, who bench pressed 500 pounds, said a lifter's feet must be flat on the ground, with his legs tightly around the bench. He said a close grip, with the hands "less than shoulder width," is preferred.
Brown suggested bringing the bar onto your chest until you can feel the pressure. At that moment, think about the driver who didn't signal for a turn or the co-worker who left an empty coffee pot on the burner.
"You have to be mad, really psyched up to lift," he said. "I do my best lifting when something is bothering me."