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The Honolulu Advertiser

By Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.com Editor

Posted on: Saturday, November 14, 2009

UH wants positive gains

 • Hawaii hopes to pick up steam
Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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WHEN: 5:05 p.m. today

WHERE: Aloha Stadium


TV: Live on Oceanic pay-per-view (digital 255); Call 643-3333 to order. To be re-telecast 10 a.m. tomorrow on K5 (Channel 5).

PARKING: 11:30 a.m. lower Halawa; 12:30 p.m. upper Halawa and most alternative parking sites.


(all open at 1:30 p.m.)

Kam Drive-In – Parking is $5 per vehicle with free shuttle service.

Leeward Community College – Parking is free; $2 for shuttle service with free admission to the Aloha Tailgate (at pole 29).

Radford High School – Parking is $5 with no shuttle service.

Note: Security is present at all alternate parking sites. Shuttle service begins two hours and 30 minutes prior to kickoff and up to one hour after the game ends.

STADIUM TURNSTILE: Opens at 3:30 p.m.

TICKETS: Available online at www.hawaiiathletics.com. Prices from $8 to $38.

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It was one play in one game.

But in the second quarter of last week's victory over Utah State, the Hawai'i football team proved the power of being in concert.

It was second-and-10, from their 6, when the Warriors called for Tampa Right, a running play.

The ball was on the right hashmark, and the Warriors aligned with three receivers to the left of the formation and one to the right. The Aggies were in a 4-2-5 defense.

At the snap, left guard Ray Hisatake pulled to his right, serving as a lead blocker. Left tackle Aaron Kia blocked the rush end, and center John Estes blocked the defensive tackle who originally was in front of Hisatake. Right guard Raphael Ieru blocked to the left the other defensive tackle. And right tackle Austin Hansen made a kick-out block on the defensive end.

It was a standard scheme, which created a lane in the B gap (between the right guard and right tackle) for running back Leon Wright-Jackson.

But what ensued was what was largely unrehearsed. Left wideout Kealoha Pilares knocked down the cornerback. Left slotback Greg Salas ran a 10-yard post pattern, then stopped, freezing a safety. Jon Medeiros, aligned to the left of Salas, ran an out pattern, drawing away a defender. And right wideout Jovonte Taylor dashed straight down the field, pulling a cornerback away from the tackle box.

With Hisatake bulldozing a linebacker, Wright-Jackson raced through a wide gap with no defensive support nearby. Kia and Hisatake ran 50 yards downfield to help escort Wright-Jackson on the 62-yard gain.

The Warriors endured criticism this year for offensive breakdowns. But on this play, Wright-Jackson had said, "we showed what we can do when we work together."

Here's a look at today's game between UH and New Mexico State:


Pos.—Player Ht. Wt. Cl.
X—7 Todd Lee 5-9 155 So.
F—10 Marcus Anderson 5-8 166 Sr.
LT—75 Dwayne Barton 6-4 270 Jr.
LG—67 Joe Palmer 6-3 308 Sr.
C—62 Mike Grady 6-3 302 So.
RG—72 Seioli Fakalata 6-3 313 Jr.
RT—59 David Norman 6-4 300 Sr.
Y—17 Kyle Nelson 6-4 232 Jr.
QB—9 Jeff Fleming 6-4 195 So.
FB—21 Ron Opetaia 5-9 221 So.
RB—20 Seth Smith 5-8 198 Jr.

Outlook: After rotating between Fleming and second-year freshman Trevor Walls, the Aggies have decided to go with Fleming as the starting quarterback the rest of this season. Fleming is the son of Dave Fleming, a former Kaläheo High track star. Fleming is an elusive runner, although not at the same level as Nevada's Colin Kaepernick or Utah State's Diondre Borel. Fleming is most effective off bootlegs and play-action schemes. The Aggies do a lot of pre-snap shifting, such as showing a three-back formation and then sliding a back into the H-back's spot. Sometimes they will put a slot and tight end on, say, the right side, then motion both to the left. For all of the motion tricks, the goal is the same: Create an overload of blockers to clear a path for Smith, who has accounted for 38 percent of the Aggies' touches. Smith, who averages 79.3 rushing yards per game, did not play last season. After a dispute with the previous coaching staff, he left the team. But after several months of working — and the coaching change — Smith decided to rejoin the team. His heavy workload will increase further now that running back Marquell Colston has been dismissed from the team.


Pos.—Player Ht. Wt. Cl.
LE—48 Pierre Fils 6-3 230 So.
LT—54 John Finau 6-1 295 Jr.
RT—44 Chris Romero 6-4 273 Sr.
RE—52 Donte Savage 6-1 229 So.
SLB—51 Ross Connor 5-10 212 Sr.
MLB—9 Jason Scott 5-10 207 Sr.
WLB—11 Jamar Cotton 6-0 218 Sr.
LCB—4 Davon House 6-0 172 Jr.
SS—2 Alophonso Powell 5-9 182 Jr.
FS—19 Stephon Hatchett 5-8 170 Jr.
RCB—1 Jonte Green 6-0 175 So.

Outlook: Against pass-oriented teams, the Aggies like to give the appearance of a quarter defense — a four-deep scheme. In reality, it is a man defense, with the corners pressing the wideouts and the safeties locking on slotbacks. Donyae Coleman, who was a wideout in the Aggies' last game, will play nickelback this week.

Fils, who aligns in a tight formation, is a beast of a pass rusher. In some situations, Cotton, the weak-side linebacker, will align as a defensive end.


Pos.—Player Ht. Wt. Cl.
K/P—96 Kyle Hughes 6-0 184 So.
LS—17 Kyle Nelson 6-4 232 Jr.
H—11 Trevor Walls 6-5 220 Fr.
KR—23 Tonny Glynn 5-8 192 Sr.
PR—10 Marcus Anderson 5-8 166 Sr.

Outlook: Anderson is the WAC leader, averaging 11.39 yards per punt return. What makes Anderson intriguing is his willingness to field bad punts. He has 18 returns.


Pos.—Player Ht. Wt. Cl.
LWO—21 Kealoha Pilares 5-11 200 Jr.
LSB—1 Greg Salas 6-2 200 Jr.
LT—77 Aaron Kia 6-5 290 Sr.
LG—64 Ray Hisatake 6-3 315 Sr.
C—55 John Estes 6-3 300 Sr.
RG—74 Raphael Ieru 6-2 315 Sr.
RT—51 Austin Hansen 6-4 285 So.
RSB—2 Jon Medeiros 5-9 185 Jr.
RWO—7 Jovonte Taylor 5-9 170 Jr.
QB—17 Bryant Moniz 6-0 190 So.
RB—23 Leon Wright-Jackson
6-1 215 Sr.
RB—25 Alex Green 6-2 220 Jr.

Outlook: Since fully recovering from an ankle injury, Taylor has developed into the playmaker the Warriors lacked on the far right. In the last four games, Taylor's yards-after-catch (YAC) average is 13.42. What's more, his YAC is 32.0 the last two games. But most of Taylor's impact plays have come on inside screens, crossing patterns or slants. The Warriors would like Taylor to become efficient on streak patterns. This season, he has not caught a pass in which he was the intended target on five streak routes. He did not compete in contact drills this week because of a staph infection in his right arm. But the coaches are hopeful Taylor will be available to play today.

The streak pattern is the most difficult of throws because it involves distance, angle and arc. Colt Brennan completed about 45 percent of those throws in 2006, when he set the NCAA's single-season record for efficiency. Tim Chang, in his best year, was a little under 40 percent. This year, Greg Alexander completed 25 percent of those throws. Moniz, who is excellent on post and crossing throws, has completed one of 10 passes on streak passes. The coaches are not concerned because Moniz has the strength to throw deep. But with a smaller receiver, such as Taylor, he needs to throw with a higher arc. Moniz has shown improvement in that area this week. The most effective drill? Throwing passes into garbage cans.

Meanwhile, the Warriors are pleased with their running game. The best aspect is that Wright-Jackson, Green and Moniz are leaners, falling forward for extra yards after being hit. This season, Wright-Jackson averages 6.17 yards after he breaks or eludes a tackle; Green averages 5.53.


Pos.—Player Ht. Wt. Cl.
LE—98 Liko Satele 6-2 260 So.
LT—49 Tuika Tufaga 6-2 285 Sr.
RT—95 Vaughn Meatoga 6-2 290 So.
RE—58 Fetaiagogo Fonoti 6-2 255 Sr.
OLB—53 Blaze Soares 6-1 245 Sr.
MLB—50 Mana Lolotai 6-0 230 Jr.
OLB—59 R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane 5-11 225 Sr.
LCB—2 Lametrius Davis 6-0 190 Jr.
SS—9 Spencer Smith 5-11 205 Jr.
FS/NB—19 Richard Torres 5-8 175 So.
FS—43 Mana Silva 6-1 220 Jr.
RCB—10 Kawika Ornellas 5-9 10 Fr.

Outlook: In the second quarter against Utah State, a wideout ran a hitch-and-go pattern. As Davis overplayed the first break, 5 yards into the route, the receiver cut upfield to make the catch. "They threw over my head," Davis recalled. "I knew they would come back to it." The Aggies did, in the third quarter, coming out in the same formation. This time Davis did not bite on the 5-yard hitch. He stayed side-by-side with the receiver, then deflected the pass. Such redemption defines why Davis has emerged as a quality cornerback. "You have to learn from your mistakes," Davis said.

Associate head coach Rich Miano, who coordinates the defensive secondary, said Davis' pass breakup was "as good a play as you'll see in college football." Davis, who transferred from Butte Junior College in January, had the benefit of participating in spring training. "I wish we had the luxury to redshirt the JC guys," Miano said. "There are so many different techniques and coverages that we do compared to what they've done in the past. But we don't have that luxury. That's why it's good to see that every week he's getting better. He's big enough, fast enough, strong enough to be a big-time player for us. You can see the maturation every week. You can see him expecting to make plays. He's getting the confidence and swagger. The ability has always been there."

Ornellas is expected to start in place of right cornerback Jeramy Bryant, who will miss his third consecutive game because of a left biceps injury. Smith, who was limited last week because of a staph infection, received his final antibiotic treatment Thursday, and should be problem-free. Torres, yet again, conquered a pulled left hamstring and is expected to start.


Pos.—Player Ht. Wt. Cl.
K—20 Scott Enos 5-9 180 Jr.
K—30 Brian Blumberg 5-6 165 So.
LS—45 Luke Ingram 6-5 210 Fr.
H—11 Inoke Funaki 5-11 205 Sr.
P—31 Alex Dunnachie 6-3 235 Fr.
KR—7 Jovonte Taylor 5-9 170 Jr.
KR—21 Kealoha Pilares 5-11 200 Jr.
PR—88 Ryan Henry 5-9 170 Jr.

Outlook: Enos' recent struggles — he has missed his last three field-goal attempts — prompted this week's open competition at placekicker. Enos has the leg strength, but he has been inconsistent in trying to stay within the preferred snap-to-contact limit of 1.3 seconds. Blumberg and safety Kenny Estes have joined the competition at kickoff specialist. Enos has improved recently — he averages 64.7 yards per kickoff the last three games, an increase from his 61.0 average in the first six games — but he only has five touchbacks this season (12.2 percent), and two out of 18 kickoffs in the past four games.

The Warriors have been trying to simplify the schemes to allow Dunnachie to regain his groove. Against Louisiana Tech and Fresno State, he averaged 47.0 yards per punt. In the last four games, he is averaging 29.5.

Visit Tsai's blog at http://warriorbeat.honadvblogs.com.