McMackin Readies for Tebow, Travel

Less than a year ago, Greg McMackin was the Hawaii defensive coordinator and was readying his team to fly across the country to play an SEC power. Well now he's the new head coach at Hawaii and once again he is facing a long road trip to take on a top team from the SEC. The Warriors will be in The Swamp Saturday afternoon for their season opener against the Florida Gators.

McMackin really doesn't know a ton about his team, at least offensively. The Warriors lost the mastermind of their run-and-shoot offense when head coach June Jones left for SMU. They also lost quarterback Colt Brennan and their top four receivers who combined for 367 catches, 4,673 yards and 44 TDs. Not only that, but he faces about an 8,000 mile road trip and the defending Heisman Trophy winner, Tim Tebow.

McMackin says you can't change your defense, despite the variety of skills Tebow brings to the table.

"You just have to run your basic defenses and be sound and have everybody do their job and responsibility. We're going to run the things we're going to try to get better on throughout the year and everyone has a responsibility when they are playing option and that's what we are going to have to do. It makes you a lot more disciplined."

McMackin and Tebow crossed paths during the college football awards season and the Hawaii coach came away impressed.

"I did meet him at the ESPYs and he's a class act who handles himself well. Then watching him on film, he's an outstanding player so he's going to be a real challenge. He was well deserving of the Heisman last year and he's a big leader of their team. I saw a TV presentation on him and he's from a great family and he's a great success story."

One of the difficult things Hawaii is facing other than the Gators' talent is the longest road trip in college football. McMackin said he has some experiences that can help him prepare for that somewhat.

"When I coached for the Seahawks we went from Seattle to Jacksonville and then stayed over in Jacksonville and went up to the Redskins. I'm excited about playing Florida and our players are excited, but my first problem was trying to figure out how to get form Hawaii to Gainesville. We got it figured out, but with Aloha Airlines going out we always charted and of course now we're gonna ride commercial. So it's going to be a little bit different, but at least we get to meet a lot of people on our way to Florida."

The team will fly to Atlanta on Wednesday and practice for two days there before heading to Gainesville on Friday. Another issue with this game is the fact that kickoff will be at 6:30 a.m. Hawaii time. McMackin insists that's also something they can cope with.

"We practice at seven in the morning during the normal season so it's just about the time we practice. We're going to be fine with it. We don't see any negatives; this is all a positive deal. We're all excited about it and the challenge that we have."

Later in the week we'll hear from McMackin about his team, particularly on defense and preparing for The Swamp.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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