Defense gets its way this time
Six sacks stifle offense in a turnaround from Tuesday
By Paul Honda
Thursday, April 4, 2002
HONOLULU – From the start, the 11-on-11 was a drastic change from Tuesday's clash at the quarry.
When the University of Hawaii Warriors went at it Thursday, there were a few actual tackles in the secondary even though players were donned in shells. It was a clear indication that the defense took offense, no pun intended, to the piercing put to it Tuesday by the offensive unit.
In all, the offense, guided in turn by quarterbacks Shawn Withy-Allen, Jason Whieldon and Jeff Rhode, were a combined 7-of-13 for 73 yards.
It was a far cry from Tuesday, when the offense completed its first six pass attempts and finished 11-of-14 for 104 yards with only one sack.
Thursday, the defense sacked passers six times in the 29-play, 25-minute end-of-practice matchup.
Coming up with sacks were Kevin Jackson, Lui Fuga, Houston Ala and Hyrum Peters. Jackson and Fuga had two sacks each. Fuga, a 6-foot-1, 302-pound tackle, looks healthy after sustaining shoulder injuries last season. Fuga is a junior.
Jackson opened last year's camp at outside linebacker before moving back to defensive end because of injuries on the line. The 6-5, 244-pound junior is still at end, on the right side.
"We started off good in 1-on-1s. We did our blitz pickups real well. We went to team level and just weren't clicking on that," senior offensive lineman Vince Manuwai said. The defense attacked the line of scrimmage differently Thursday, but the O-line's most experienced returnee refused to give in to any reason or excuse.
"It's like Coach Cav always teaches us, it's not what the defense does, it's what we do, you know? It wasn't our day at the end," he said.
There were at least two bad snaps – the Warriors were in the shotgun, as usual – and more than a handful of bobbles and fumbles, particularly at quarterback. Such is the reason why there is spring football, especially with a new snapper replacing Brian Smith.
Smith spent last summer practicing snaps at 9 every morning to roommate Nick Rolovich – as many as 1,000 per day.
"We pretty much all messed up," Manuwai said. "See, as an offensive line, we can't blame one guy because, you know, four guys might do good, one guy might do bad. One guy that did bad might get the sack; as a unit, we look junk. They're not going to say, it's that one guy. We go as a unit. With defense, three guys can mess up, but if one guy gets that sack, they all look good.
"That's how it works. We don't blame anybody. We gotta get on the same page and be consistent."
For now, the offense has the relief of knowing it can come back tomorrow morning to redeem itself. Better yet, the team will be in full pads.
"Today, we'll watch the films, correct what we did. We'll get a lot of yellings, but sometimes, it's what you deserve. Today, we don't deserve, you know, ‘oh, good job' and all that," the Farrington High School graduate said.
Full contact will be fulfilling for those who crave collisions. "Pretty much the interior linemen and linebackers, we'll probably be going out there hunting for them, but it's all going to be clean shots, not behind the back or we cut them. The defense understands and so do we. We're going hard and it's nothing personal," Manuwai said.
"It's like when we go 1-on-1s, we tell each other, hey, we're going to bust our butts now, but remember, it's not for us. It's for the other teams we play. We're getting each other ready," he added. "Before, if somebody got beat, there was always a fight. But now, they understand. Why fight? If you lose, you lose. It's practice."
Hair today, gone tomorrow?