Warriors get the fans’ blood pumping
By Dave Reardon
Coach Greg McMackin braced for the worst upon hearing that one of his University of Hawaii football players appeared in a recent episode of “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
As it turned out, this was not a case of a Warrior getting into trouble. Actually, a UH player happened to be the neighbor of a featured fugitive, and he threw the dog a bone, in the form of a tip.
Senior wide receiver Malcolm Lane said he felt a little bit bad about dropping a dime on the guy a couple of doors down, but Duane “Dog” Chapman convinced him it was the right thing to do.
“He told me I was helping the kid in the long run,” Lane said after the first day of spring practice yesterday. “He said it would be the best thing for him in the long run.”
Lane’s was the most interesting story to come out of yesterday’s rather mundane 2 hours of football drills. The first day of practice five months from the first game is never the most enthralling thing to watch, but it does get the blood pumping for the football junkies.
About 100 fans took advantage of the rare late-afternoon session to get a peek at the team that will open against Central Arkansas in September.
McMackin and veteran players ran a gauntlet of live TV interviews, with all four local stations showing up with their primo gear.
Spring football is considered unnecessary by non-football fans, but there’s certainly an audience for it. We’re getting like the South, where three major sports seasons dominate: college football, college football recruiting and spring college football.
Now, of course this was anything but a ho-hum 2 hours for the participants. There are coaches to impress (including two new ones) and positions to win (plenty, with back-to-back seasons of mass exodus).
And the vets have been itching to get back out on the field as a group to officially purge the Notre Dame nightmare before Christmas that was the Hawaii Bowl.
“We’re still kind of mad about it,” linebacker Brashton Satele said. “I don’t like being embarrassed.”
That’s the right attitude. You want your Warriors to remember that hollow feeling as they prepare for the 2009 season. A fresh start, for sure — but don’t forget the past.
It was supposed to be like that last year, too, with the not-so-sweet Sugar Bowl result a reminder to feed the pig early and often.
I’m not quite so sure it happened, though. After all the chaos of January 2008, McMackin and the team scrambled into spring practice the best it could.
This year, it seems more like things are on a schedule that makes sense.
Will that translate into an improvement on last year’s 7-7 record? Only with a major upgrade of offensive line performance, and if the defense can be rebuilt (especially a secondary that lost nearly everyone off the two-deep chart).
Five minutes into the first practice, and McMackin’s voice was already hoarse. There’s even more teaching going on than usual with so many new players.
The coaches need to figure out quickly who they can count on in the fall.
Rocky Savaiigaea said there’s no easing in this time.
“This was the hardest first day we’ve ever had, very intense,” he said.
Most of these seniors have never experienced a losing season, other than while redshirting in 2005. They don’t want to start now, at the end.
“We’ve just got to work harder on the practice field and not just expect to win,” Lane said. “We’ve got to buy into what the coaches tell us. Everybody at times gets into doing a little bit of their own thing. But I understand a lot more about how important it is to buy into the coaches.”