Warriors shuffle staff
BY Stephen Tsai
In an extensive spring makeover, Hawai'i head coach Greg McMackin has re-arranged his football coaching staff, announcing these changes:
• Nick Rolovich and Dave Aranda have been promoted to offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator, respectively. Rolovich will be in charge of the quarterbacks and Aranda will handle the linebackers.
• Cal Lee, who was defensive coordinator in McMackin's first two seasons as UH head coach, is now the assistant head coach in charge of defensive ends.
• Ron Lee, who was offensive coordinator, is now the assistant offensive coordinator in charge of receivers.
• Tony Tuioti, who was the director of player personnel, is now an assistant coach in charge of defensive tackles.
• George Lumpkin has been recommended as director of player personnel. Because Na Koa, the football team's booster club, pays for that position, the hiring has not been finalized yet.
The football team's nine assistant coaches are on one-year contracts that expire March 31. All will be paid under their current terms through that date, although they already have started their new assignments.
Spring training begins tomorrow.
Under the pay ranges set by the Board of Regents, Rolovich and Aranda will earn undisclosed raises that are expected to boost their annual salaries to the low six-figures.
The changes actually have been in place for several months.
Rolovich took over the play-calling duties, from Ron Lee, for the final 12 games last season.
In 2008, McMackin made all of the defensive calls. Last year, he began yielding play-calling duties to Aranda.
"He's a genius," defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga said of Aranda. "He knows his football. It's ridiculous. You put a pen and a pad in his hands, he can draw up every single formation and defensive scheme in the world."
Aranda is a skilled multi-tasker. In his office, the two white boards are covered with football diagrams and sayings. He often inputs data into his computer while a video of a coaches' seminar plays on the television.
"I love the work," Aranda said. "My wife will probably say I love it too much."
Aranda said he believes in "Mack's system" — blitzes from all points.
"I'm a believer in a defense that attacks and dictates, rather than sits back and defends." Aranda said. "We want to build two things: schemes that are easy for us and hard for them, with 'them' being the other team."
Aranda coached the defensive ends in 2008 and the defensive tackles last season. He said working with the linebackers is a natural fit for a coordinator because it allows him to see the back end (defensive secondary) and front end (defensive line).
Aranda said there is a "sense of urgency" to re-establishing a more daring defense.
"I see a lot of gray that needs to be worked out to black and white," Aranda said. "We're in the process of doing that. This has been the best offseason, in terms of coaches working together to get the gray out."
Rolovich, meanwhile, said he is committed to the four-wide passing attack.
"You can win throwing the ball," Rolovich said. "We're not going to change the offense or the mindset."
Rolovich said the game plans will have room for "pounding it" with the running attack.
Still, he insisted, the passing game can have an aggressive approach.
"We need a killer instinct," Rolovich said. "We need a knockout-blow attitude as far as throwing the ball. ... What we need to do is instill the confidence into the players. I think when everybody feels the way I do about the offense, fear goes out the window."
Last season, the Warriors were dead last nationally — 120th — in red-zone offense, converting 61 percent of the drives inside an opponent's 20.
Rolovich said the solution can be found in fewer turnovers, sticking with schemes that "worked for a decade," and avoiding poor down-and-distance situations.
"Fourth-and-16 is not a real successful down," Rolovich said, noting the red-zone problems "can be cleaned up."
As for his aggressive approach, Rolovich said, "I'm a pirate 200 years too late."