Warriors ready for spring training
BY Stephen Tsai
The key to preparing for the start of spring football training is to find the right combination.
"I've got my PB and J," Hawai'i quarterback Shane Austin said, munching on a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich en route to class. "I'm good to go."
More than 100 players will participate in the 15 days of practice that will stretch out over the next month. Spring training will feature an April 10 scrimmage on Kaua'i, and conclude with the annual Warrior Bowl April 30 on the UH campus.
The first practice is today, from 7 to 9 a.m., and is free and open to the public.
Along the way, the Warriors will adjust to several changes, starting near the top. There have been several assignment switches, most notably the promotions of Nick Rolovich and Dave Aranda to offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator, respectively.
The Warriors also will practice without three important players. Middle linebacker Brashton Satele and right tackle Laupepa Letuli are awaiting the results of petitions that will allow them to play as sixth-year seniors in 2010.
Left wideout Rodney Bradley, whose 2009 season was abbreviated because of a fractured fibia and tibia in his left leg, will have light duty.
"I'll be able to catch," Bradley said. "I won't be running."
Bradley said he will wait until training camp to participate in contact drills.
Bryant Moniz, who entered the 2009 training camp as the No. 4 quarterback, will open spring training atop the depth chart. But Austin, who won his only start last year, and Brent Rausch, who missed the entire season because of a variety of injuries, will challenge for extended reps.
The offensive line also will undergo a makeover.
If Letuli remains unavailable, Kainoa LaCount will play right tackle.
Austin Hansen, who had started at right tackle in the second half of 2009, is now listed as No. 1 at left tackle.
Matagisila Lefiti succeeds center John Estes, who started every game of his four-year UH career.
Adrian Thomas, a right tackle before yielding to severe back spasms, has been moved to right guard.
And Brett Leonard, who was recruited as an offensive tackle in 2009, will open as the top left guard.
Leonard, a junior-college transfer, was on the active roster and made the first three road trips last year. But he did not get into a game, and was available on a need-to-play basis. At mid-season, it was decided it would be best for Leonard to redshirt.
Facing the Warriors' first-team defense every day in practice, Leonard was used at both tackle and guard. In preparing for the Idaho game, Leonard portrayed Vandal guard Mike Iupati in practices.
"I think that's where they got the idea," Leonard said of the suggested move to guard.
During the exit interview with line coach Gordy Shaw, Leonard expressed interest in competing at left guard this year.
"It just helps me out with my future, if I want to make one after my two (seasons) here," Leonard said.
Leonard said knowing how to play both guard and tackle "makes me a more valuable asset to the team and makes it more valuable to me."
Leonard, who is 6 feet 5, now weighs 320.
"It's all good weight," Leonard said.
The Warriors concluded their offseason conditioning program before the start of last week's spring break.
But the players have continued to work out on their own, using the weight room in the mornings. The players also have organized their own 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 workouts.
"We've had great workouts," said safety Spencer Smith, a fifth-year senior, "the best since I've been here."
Smith said the Warriors transformed the disappointment of not qualifying for a bowl berth — their final hope was exhausted when they lost to Wisconsin in the 2009 finale — into motivation.
"I think everyone realizes how serious it is and how hard we have to work," Smith said. "We didn't make a bowl game, so I think that really slapped the taste of winning out of our mouths. It made us realize you can't show up and make it to a bowl game. You have to work hard every day."
Since the Wisconsin game, Austin said, the focus has been on getting ready for spring training.
"It's something you look forward to all season," Austin said. "It's a little miniature season. It's fun. It's always exciting.
"We try to live ahead, not live in the past," Austin added. "(The Wisconsin game) is something to build on, learn from, and really grow as a team. It's time to put that in the past and get better and go from here."