Hawaii hits prac­tice field with re­newed en­thu­si­asm

West Hawaii Today - - Sports - BY STEPHEN TSAI

The Hawaii foot­ball team had re­newed en­thu­si­asm and some changes in their first prac­tice since the lost week­end in Reno.

For­mer of­fen­sive line­man RJ Hol­lis de­liv­ered an im­pas­sioned us-against-the­world speech at the start of the two-hour prac­tice at the wind­less Ching Ath­letic Com­plex. Head coach Nick Rolovich staged 1-on-1 bat­tles be­tween of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive play­ers in the mid­dle of prac­tice.

“We changed some things up,” Rolovich said. “We had a prac­tice sched­ule, and guys are used to it. We’re in a lit­tle bit of a rut, so we wanted to change it up and bring some dif­fer­ent en­ergy, and keep them on their toes a lit­tle bit.”

The Rain­bow War­riors were forced to ad­just after Chris Nae­ole re­signed as of­fen­sive line coach last week. For last Saturday’s 35-21 road loss to Ne­vada, of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Brian Smith and grad­u­ate as­sis­tant John Estes coached the of­fen­sive line­men and Rolovich called the of­fen­sive plays. The job shifts meant Smith, who usu­ally called the plays from the coaches’ booth, was on the field

dur­ing the game.

“That was my role that day,” Rolovich said of his play-call­ing. “But I felt I wasn’t pre­pared as I needed to be. I made that de­ci­sion, and I felt that was the best way to go for that game.”

But after ful­fill­ing his other head coach­ing du­ties on Mon­day, Rolovich de­cided to re­vert to the pre­vi­ous in-game roles for Saturday’s home­com­ing game against San Jose State. Smith will call the plays from the booth.

Estes, who was in the booth dur­ing the Ne­vada game, will be on the side­line work­ing with the of­fen­sive line­men. Josh Omura, the re­cruit­ing in­tern, will take over some of Estes’ grad­u­ate-as­sis­tant work.

“I can’t do less than a 100 per­cent job if I’m going to do it,” Rolovich said of play-call­ing. “These kids de­serve some­body who is com­pletely di­aled in and ready for ev­ery sit­u­a­tion.”

Asked to grade his play-call­ing, Rolovich said, “If I go with 35 points, that would be an A. We scored 21. It looks like a C-mi­nus to me, maybe a C-plus. Maybe there’s ex­tra credit avail­able.”

Rolovich said he ad­dressed the side­line be­hav­ior dur­ing the Ne­vada game. Right tackle Chris Posa raged after be­ing as­sessed two penal­ties on a drive, and line­backer Penei Pav­ihi flashed a shaka sign after be­ing ejected for tar­get­ing. Both im­ages were cap­tured dur­ing the national tele­cast.

“I didn’t watch the TV copy, but I got more texts about how (Pav­ihi) was per­ceived on TV,” Rolovich said.

Rolovich said Pav­ihi’s wave was taken out of con­text. “He was ap­pre­ci­at­ing the (Hawaii) fans,” Rolovich said. “I told him … you have to worry about how peo­ple per­ceive it. Penei wouldn’t hurt any­body. He’s a guy who’s so re­spect­ful, so nice. If some­body waves to him, he’s going to wave back. It was the Hawaii fans there. They were cheer­ing for him. He said: ‘They were telling me to keep my head up.’ And he was say­ing, ‘ Thank you for that en­cour­age­ment.’ “

But Rolovich said Posa “lost his cool.”

“We ad­dressed it at the game,” Rolovich said of Posa’s out­burst. “We ad­dressed it in front of the team. We ad­dressed all that. … You’re rep­re­sent­ing the state right now. That’s the most im­por­tant part.”

FILE/ AP PHOTO

Nick Rolovich called plays last week for the Rain­bow War­riors, but will give up that duty this week.

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