Last week at the UH football coaches office, coach Morrison suggested that I call UH compliance Coordinator Daniel Arakaki to find out what I could or could not be write about UH football. I was being lazy about this and just dragged on this. Finally called Daniel and he was more than happy to give me a brief go over of what things were off limits. Daniel explained some basic what could or could not be done stuff. When Daniel finished I came away dizzy. To avoid any potential NCAA pitfall I came up with a very simple solution. I would just write about the current roster players and the incoming recruits that were cleared by the UH media office. OK, gotta remember that the juicy information about walk-ons is off limits until camp or school officially begins. "Any problems with the Vantz Singletary and Ron Lee write-ups?" "No problems. Isaac was mentioned, but, he's already been in school for one year." Phew, "thanks Daniel."
With all the NCAA compliance stuff cleared up, it was time to see Warrior quarterbacks' coach Dan Morrison.
It was a breezy Wednesday afternoon and construction to fix the track field at Cooke field on the lower Manoa campus was still in progress and kicking up dust into the air. As I watched the work that was going on at Cooke field, I couldn't help but think of Aloha Stadium and the Field Turf. The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the NFL, Hawaii Stadium Authority?? Aaaaaa….let's pass on the subject of Field Turf for now.
On to coach Morrison's office. Down the now familiar hallway. I pass Coach Miano's office where he and UH film man Lopaka Ornellas were busy doing some pre-season work. "Coach Morrison." "Hey, come in." The nosy person that I am, I looked around the office. Big chalkboard, the kind you don't use chalk on anymore but erasable marsh pens, with telephone numbers and names of the now very familiar incoming recruits plus the QBs of course. "******* ********* walking on?" "Hope so, but, don't know right yet. Been talking to his family." We sit and talk about things like Alabama, travel to or the desire to not have to travel to Louisiana to play football, Field Turf, Nick's past year, travel schedules, music (didn't know coach had tinkered with the ebony and ivory keyboards), Dolphin Days, all kinds of stuff.
"Coach, the QBs this year?" "There will probably be seven in fall camp." "Seven……so many. What do you do with so many and what do you tell them when only one can play?" "We need that many because we throw the ball so much. We stress that you are just one play from playing and they need to believe that." "I remember seeing Nick last year before fall camp when it looked like his final Warrior year would be spent as a backup. He just said to me that this was his senior year and that he had to continue to work hard and just give it his best shot. The words that you are just one play from playing sure came to pass last year when Timmy got injured and Nick stepped in so well, especially those last three games of the season." "In this system we always need to have three QBs that we can win with. We need three QBs who will be game ready. Nick was ready when his opportunity came last year and he's now in camp with the Broncos. If not for Jared's injury maybe Jared would have stepped in for Timmy and now be in camp with the Broncos. Last year the three QBs we felt we could go out and win with were Timmy, Nick and Jared." "Jared's injury?" "Jared's injury took a long time to heal. Jared finally felt that his arm was back to full strength in our final game of the season. We were fortunate the year Dan Robinson was our QB. Not sure how Josh Skinner would have done if forced to play." I remember that Josh was such a promising QB, but, every year he was here he was played in a different system and that the other QB that first year was true freshman Mike Harrison.
"Coach, how is Timmy?" "Timmy from what I've heard feels that his strength is back to where it was before the ligament injury. Timmy's throwing pain free and working out with the receivers." "Coach, when Timmy came in he was very familiar with the Run and Shoot." "Yes, but we do some things different here. Timmy has a great understanding of the system, but, once he totally masters what we are trying to do he's gonna be really special."
"Shawn Withy-Allen?" "He's been in the system and knows the system. I feel so good about Shawn and feel so good for him. He will be, if he is not already, a success in everything he does. Prior to this year Shawn didn't get the reps. Given the reps this spring he has developed into a quarterback we feel confident in. I just feel so good about this man. He could have moved to another position, but, chose to stay at QB and I am so glad he did."
"Jason Whieldon?" "He was one of the QBs we recruited out of high school. So happened that with the scholarships we had available a couple of years ago it came down to Timmy or Jason. Timmy came so there was no scholarship left for Jason. By the way another QB we somewhat recruited that year was Luke McGowan who ended up at Louisiana Tech. I talked to Luke after the La Tech game and he said to me that he understood why we were so high on recruiting Timmy. Jason is real smart and is really picking up the system. After a few days of spring practice he picked up things other QBs pick up after being in the system for a year or two. Jason doesn't have a cannon of an arm, but he will pick defenses apart.
Ah, confirmed, these are the three QBs that the Warriors feel can play and win for them this fall.
"Jeff Rhode and did playing two sports hurt his development?" "Jeff didn't miss any of the spring. He is coming along and continues to learn. He is about a year from being ready to play."
"Ryan Stickler?" "He was injured his junior year in High School and then transferred schools for his senior year. Had a great senior year, but, by that time he had fallen off the radar. His coach asked him where he could send tapes of him to. He had just seen us play Fresno and asked his coach to send us a tape. When other schools came calling his mind was already set to come here."
"Inoke Funaki, going on a mission?" "Going on a mission for two years." "Is he a QB?" "Definitely yes. He is as natural a quarterback as there is."
The other two QBs in the mix this fall are walk ons who we cannot write about yet.
Coach Morrison kept answering my questions. Coach impressed me as being a very humble and patient man. Not a loud person, but, like a father who will take you under his wing and nurture you. Patience is a virtue and is an important quality to have in the development of the centerpiece of the Run and Shoot offense.
Next up…more with Coach Morrison….