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College football: Hawaii hits practice field with renewed enthusiasm

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

Former offensive lineman RJ Hollis delivered an impassioned us-against-the-world 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.”

 

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