UH defense needs to tackle poor technique
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
|||Friday: Hawai'i (1-1) at Nevada-Las Vegas (1-1)
Kickoff: 3 p.m.
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
Radio: live 1420 AM
The Warriors were back at work yesterday at Chaffey College in a suburb north of their Ontario hotel. They will workout there through Thursday before departing for Las Vegas for Friday's game against the Rebels, who are coming off an upset of then-No. 14 Wisconsin, 23-5, on Saturday in Madison.
In the Warriors' 61-32 loss to USC on Saturday, the Warriors had a number of initial hits behind or near the line of scrimmage against Trojan ball carriers. But the runners either bounced off or spun away for more yardage. Sometimes they broke three of four tackles. On USC's first offensive play, tailback Herschel Dennis broke a tackle a yard behind the line of scrimmage and rumbled for a six-yard gain.
"After the big plays, our guys weren't hanging together as we should've been" free safety Leonard Peters said. "We just started beating ourselves. Also, USC had a good team. They weren't going down if one person hit 'em. We just need to hit and wrap up."
And that was the rap on UH's defense. The inability to "wrap up."
"We have to break down," UH linebacker Chad Kalilimoku said. "Square yourself up five yards, break your strides. The (USC) guys were quicker, but we need to use better technique."
The Warriors were coming off a bye week and might have been rusty, and the Trojans had a lot of athleticism that helped them juke defenders. But the Warriors weren't making excuses.
"We have to do a better job (of tackling)," UH linebackers coach Cal Lee said. "Give (the Trojans) credit, but we have to get better as a group."
Warriors' defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga was one of the few bright spots in the USC game. He was credited with 2.5 tackles for losses, including the only sack of USC quarterback Matt Leinart, a forced fumble and a pass break-up.
"This past game, we had a couple of missed tackles, but today at practice, we were sort of working on making tackles," Sopoaga said. "Hopefully, this game against UNLV, we'll step right up."
Warriors' strong safety Hyrum Peters said the defense needs to be "mentally prepared."
"That's what killed us the past game," he said. "Each game has a little thing going on, something bad. Not being confident with your techniques."
The Warriors don't want to return home with a 1-2 record for the Sept. 27 game against Rice in their Western Athletic Conference opener. They also want to shake the stigma of not being able to win on the road.
"It's very important for us to prove to ourselves that we can win on the road and bounce right back from a loss," Hyrum Peters said.
The Rebels (1-1) are coming off a win against a nationally ranked opponent and the Warriors know they will be brimming with confidence.
"They're coming off a big win," Sopoaga said. "They have big expectations. But they don't know what we're going to bring up that day. We'll see about that."
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com or 525-8042.