Friday | October 20, 2017
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College football: UH breaks camp

After 15 practices over 20 days, the University of Hawaii football team broke training camp on Tuesday.

The end of camp coincided with the first day the general student body could move into the dormitories and on-campus apartments ahead of Monday’s start of the fall semester.

For the Rainbow Warriors, it was more of a procedural event than a milestone. In the past, the end of camp signified the conclusion of two-a-day practices and the team’s checkout from group housing. But this year, the NCAA eliminated double practices. For the second year in a row, head coach Nick Rolovich only required the first-year Warriors to live in the dorms during training camp. The rest of the Warriors had the option of living in their off-campus residences.

UH set for UMass

“We’re focusing on UMass,” Rolovich said of Hawaii’s season-opening opponent, who the Warriors will visit on Aug. 26.

UH will tighten the depth chart and designate scout teams to simulate the Minutemen’s offensive and defensive schemes in drills. The Warriors are expected to travel with 64 players to Massachusetts.

“Like most training camps,” Rolovich said, “there were ups and downs. I appreciate the mentality this team came in with. There was good discipline. We never had an issue with guys being late or missing things. They bought in.”

A 14-player leadership council guided the Warriors during the offseason conditioning program and player-run practices. For the first time in six years, the Warriors entered training camp with an incumbent No. 1 quarterback. Dru Brown, who was 6-4 as a starter last year, represented the Warriors at last month’s Mountain West Conference’s Media Summit in Las Vegas.

“More than the (number of returnees) is the fact that they surrendered themselves to the Warrior way of life,” Rolovich said, “and they came away with a championship ring.”

The Warriors were 6-7 during the 2016 regular season, but still received a Hawaii Bowl invitation because there were not enough .500 or better teams to fill all the bowl berths. “I told them I’m not buying them a ring for just going to a bowl game, a bowl game we were under .500 when we got it in,” Rolovich said.

The Warriors defeated Middle Tennessee in the Hawaii Bowl, and this past spring, Rolovich presented bowl rings to the players and coaches.

“When you’re a a champion of something, in football or other sports, its a great symbol of achievement,” Rolovich said of the commemorative rings. “They’ll never forget it.”

The Warriors appeared to make an easy transition to new defensive coordinator Legi Suiaunoa, who was promoted from defensive line coach after Kevin Lempa left after one season. Suiaunoa is the Warriors’ seventh defensive coordinator since 2011.

“The move to stay within the system really was big for a lot of the players,” Rolovich said. “They went from another system to ‘We’re going take another step in this system.’”

Rolovich said Suiaunoa kept the terminology and the basics of Lempa’s schemes. “That’s the comfort level,” Rolovich said. “They’re not learning a new language.

 

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