Running game makes pitch for bigger role Dimude's chance to help carry Warriors
• Photo gallery: Warrior Bowl
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
University of Hawai'i running backs Alex Green and Chizzy Dimude delivered a sweet treat on the final day of the Warriors spring session.
"I felt we did really well. We ran the ball awesome," quarterback David Graves said. "We have some great weapons in our backfield, with AG and Chizzy, we call them the peanut butter and jelly — hit them with the PB and J. They played really well; the line played really well tonight. I felt like the offense was clicking."
The Warriors held their final practice of the spring season under the lights at Clarence T.C. Ching Field, complete with band and cheerleaders and about 1,000 fans in a departure from years past, with an offense-versus-defense controlled scrimmage that gave coaches a good look at their depth.
"We really showed we could run the ball, we are dependable; we can get five yards, 10 yards," Dimude said in a campaign for more carries. "We can make big plays. I tell (offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich) that all the time, 'Let's just run the ball.' "
The Warriors executed about 80 plays, with punts and field goals — kicker Scott Enos made his at 27, 44 and 47 yards —including overtime and two-minute drill sessions.
Green and Dimude, along with quarterback Brent Rausch, accounted for all the touchdowns, all on runs.
"I didn't know how I was going to do today because my groin has been hurting," said Dimude, who carried the ball four times for 52 yards and scored a 1-yard touchdown. "I felt like I did alright, I just need to tighten up a couple of things. Me and AG out there, just the whole running back core and the linemen blocking and everything. Once we get it down, it's going to be really good."
Green scored on a 1-yard run and Rausch scrambled for a 12-yard touchdown.
Head coach Greg McMackin said he thought "our running game looked good. I thought the guys blocked it up front, and everybody played hard on both sides of the ball."
Running backs coach Brian Smith said they wanted to get certain looks for each running back and each quarterback.
"We got what we wanted out of AG and Chizzy as far as the looks we wanted to see from them. They both executed really well and did a good job of what they can do for us next year," he said.
Next week, McMackin and the coaches will meet to whittle down the team's numbers for fall camp, and will talk to each player to let them know where they stand.
One issue still uncertain is the team's No.1 quarterback.
"There's really not a depth chart," McMackin said. "Obviously (Bryant) Moniz is going to be in the mix also really soon, so I think our quarterbacks have done a good job all spring and when we put Moniz in there, we have a good situation at quarterback."
Midway through the spring season, Moniz took time off for "personal reasons" but is expected to rejoin the team in the summer.
The Warriors were in a similar situation last spring, but Rolovich said "the young guys were getting a lot of reps, and Brent did a great job tonight. We've been waiting to see that out of him. Cayman Shutter drove us down the field in the two-minute drill and got us a field goal. David Graves continues to impress. There's a lot of things to take into consideration."
Shane Austin and Graves took reps with with first team, with Austin completing 5-of-8 passes for 46 yards and two interceptions and Graves going 4 of 6 for 46 yards. Rausch, with the No. 2s, was 11 of 18 for 93 yards.
Defensively, tackle Vaughn Meatoga led the Warriors with two sacks. Defensive backs Kawika Borden, Richard Torres and Jordan Gomes also recorded interceptions.
"Coach Tony (Tuioti) emphasizes making big plays and getting into quarterback's faces," Meatoga said. "It just messes them up, messing their tempo up, and they are thinking of the next time they are dropping back, if they are going to see some big guy running at them. I think we did a good job disrupting the offense."
He likes the progress the team made since the start of practice in March, putting them "in a good position" for summer workouts in preparations for the season opener against Southern California.
"We're starting to get that swagger that coach is talking about," Meatoga said.
Cornerback Steve Stepter delivered the hardest hit of the evening when he laid out slotback Ryan Henry.
"It was a zone coverage and I was looking for that," Stepter said. "I was concentrating on my man and I saw him coming out, and he caught it before I could get there so I just wanted to make the tackle."
The crowd oohed, but Stepter said "when I hit people I don't really hear it. I just hear my players."
Henry said he was "just trying to get away from Spencer (Smith) and get out of bounds at the same time. I'm OK. I just had to gain my composure for one play, and then come back in. But it's all good though."
"He's a beast, though," wideout Royce Pollard interjected on behalf of his fellow receiver.