POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 23, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 2:21 a.m. HST, Sep 23, 2010
As Hawaii's marquee football player, left slotback Greg Salas often has a target on his back.
But it appears he does not always have a target on his chest.
In the Warriors' first three games, he has zero touchdowns. He has been the intended receiver four times in the fourth quarter.
In the season opener against Southern California, Salas did not receive a catchable pass until the middle of the second quarter, the Warriors' 15th play of the game.
Against Colorado, it took 13 plays before a pass went in Salas' direction.
Despite fewer pass-catching opportunities, Salas is creating problems for defenses. He often draws extra coverages, opening the way for right slotback Kealoha Pilares, who is having a breakout start, and wideouts Rodney Bradley and Royce Pollard.
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"Last year, with everything that happened, we had to feed him a little bit," offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said of Salas' go-to role. "He made a lot of plays for us. (This season) I think the guys have gotten better around him. ... I think the confidence has spread out. The talent has evened out. The hard work all around makes it difficult for someone to key on one player. It opens up the offense."
Quarterback Bryant Moniz said: "Everybody is concerned about Greg after what happened last year. It opens it up for the other guys. Now everybody is having good games. Greg doesn't have as many touchdowns as last year, but he's still getting a lot of catches, and helping the other receivers."
Indeed, Salas has 24 catches, and is on pace to exceed 100 receptions for the second consecutive year. He said he has worked hard to make the most of each opportunity.
Of the 30 plays when he was the intended receiver, Salas has made catches 80 percent of the time, a higher efficiency rating than the ones achieved by former Warriors Davone Bess, Ashley Lelie, Ryan Grice-Mullins and Chad Owens.
Twelve of his 24 receptions have resulted in first downs.
Last year, after moving from left wideout, "I didn't have any attention toward me (from defenses)," Salas said. "I was new at the slot. I was able to make the most of it. (This year) I don't know if I'm getting doubled more. I don't know if (defenses) are paying more attention to me. I don't think I'm sneaking up on anybody this year."
Meanwhile, Salas has adjusted to being the focus of the Warriors' promotional campaign. He said the UH-created website -- www.catchgregsalas.com -- "is all for fun. I don't think about that kind of stuff. When I go out there, I'm thinking about football."
He also has embraced his role as a team captain.
"I can't mess around as much in practice," he said, smiling. "I try to lead by example, and play as hard as I can."