POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 05, 2012
~~<p>LOS ANGELES >> A lot of people are encouraged about the future of the University of Hawaii football team under Norm Chow, even after it opened its season and Chow’s tenure as head coach with a 39-point loss Saturday at USC.<br />
LOS ANGELES >> A lot of people are encouraged about the future of the University of Hawaii football team under Norm Chow, even after it opened its season and Chow’s tenure as head coach with a 39-point loss Saturday at USC. One of them is a man with a unique perspective. Linebackers coach Tony Tuioti’s take is especially meaningful because he’s the only holdover from last year’s staff. Tuioti is also worth listening to because he was in the front row for a somewhat similar transition 13 years ago. As a player, he anchored the defensive line when June Jones replaced Fred vonAppen and contributed mightily to that huge turnaround from 0-12 in 1998. But that rebuilding project didn’t start out so great either. The 1999 team also was pounded by the Trojans in its opener … by 16 more points than this year’s Warriors were, and it was at Aloha Stadium. If you thought 49-10 on the road was ugly, how about 62-7 at home? You may remember the rest of the story. UH recovered quickly from the embarrassing loss. Hawaii won its next four games and finished 9-4, including an Oahu Bowl victory over Oregon State. After Saturday’s game, I mentioned to Tuioti that I was impressed with the way this young UH team continued to battle all the way to the end against the preseason No. 1 team in the country. Many others would have folded after falling behind 35-0 at halftime. He agreed. “You could see a big difference from last year. This team is mentally strong,” Tuioti said. “They’re mentally prepared for this season.” He cited the fast practice tempo, as well as the intensity of the workouts. “We’re tackling, running the ball,” Tuioti said. “We never practiced that way before (this season).” Maybe that’s why UH came out of the game with so few injuries. And Tuioti said Chow has the players believing in themselves and each other, that he’s convinced them to look at the big picture of the entire season rather than just one game. “They understand that each week they will get better if they work hard. Coach Chow is doing a great job of putting things in the proper perspective for them.” Chow knows it’s a work in progress, and has successfully related that to his team. He admits that even at age 66 he still has things to learn, too. He always worked upstairs in the booth in his days as an offensive coordinator, calling in plays. “(The coaches) need a little bit better communication,” Chow said Monday. “It’s hard to see from the sideline.” Although it’s not as completely organized as he wants it yet, that UH sideline is a lot less congested now. Chow has cut back on the number of people on the field who don’t need to be there. Good — previous regimes had too many people down there milling around for no apparent reason. You can already tell Chow isn’t going to lose games due to lack of preparation or discipline. No loss is easy to take for the coaches, players and fans. But the wrong side of 49-10 never looked so good. As Tony Tuioti knows, a lopsided loss to USC can lead to great things. ——— Reach Dave Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4783.
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