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McMackin needs to make right choice at QB; his job could depend on it

By Dave Reardon


Nothing like a little quarterback controversy to deflect the heat off a coach, who may or may not be unwillingly nearing the end of his term, eh? Actually, the two issues are intermeshed in the University of Hawaii football team's current situation.

Before Bryant Moniz was lost for the regular season Saturday night in Reno, Nev., where UH fell to 5-5 with a 42-28 loss, there was no doubt who should be playing quarterback for the Warriors. Anyone actually paying attention to what was going on could see Moniz was always the best option, despite some recent struggles.

Change for change's sake isn't always the right thing to do.

Still, I wouldn't have minded mixing things up once in a while just to force opposing defenses to prepare for more than just Moniz (maybe even some David Graves as a wildcat, especially in the red zone, and not just garbage time). Remember, it often worked to give Timmy Chang a breather and play Shawn Withy-Allen or Jason Whieldon for a series or two.

That's moot now, of course, and with Fresno State coming to town Saturday, UH needs to quickly figure out who its starting quarterback is for this game and perhaps the remaining three or four. Or maybe even the next two seasons.

Greg McMackin has to make one of the most important decisions of his four years as Warriors head coach. Should he go with the experienced senior (Shane Austin), or the sophomore (Graves) considered the quarterback of the future? McMackin's job security may depend on making the right pick -- if there is one.

The Manoa chain of command (and we're told many in it will have input) is pondering what to do about a $1.1 million a year coach with whom much of the fan base is extremely disenchanted. If the Warriors turn the corner behind a new quarterback and win at least three of four, including the bowl game, is going 8-6 a fireable offense? Especially if that quarterback happens to be Graves, and excitement for 2012 and 2013 is generated?

OK, back to the reality of this being one banged-up football team, and not just on offense. All football teams are hurting 10 games into the season; the good ones have enough depth so that it's not a game-changing issue.

Now, with the starting quarterback out, this edition of the Warriors resembles the 2009 team, the only UH team in the past five years to finish with a losing record. It was also ravaged by injuries, including a UH-career-ender to quarterback Greg Alexander -- which gave Moniz his first chance to start.

When I think of UH football teams that struggled but got it together to finish strong, the 2004 group always comes to mind. It was 4-5 after a 70-14 loss to Fresno State ... yes, 70-14! And this was a team that opened its season with a home loss to Florida Atlantic.

But Chang, Chad Owens, Samson Satele, Lui Fuga, Abraham Elimimian and others got it together, and UH won its last four in a row -- including two against Big Ten opponents. By the time UH beat UAB in the Hawaii Bowl, the pitchforks with June Jones' name on them were reshelved.

UH should get those guys to come talk to the current team, talk about how they did it.

And McMackin needs to choose the quarterback on the UH roster who is capable of turning things around now, assuming that player exists.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/dave_reardon.

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99club wrote:
"OK, back to the reality of this being one banged-up football team, and not just on offense."
on November 14,2011 | 01:04AM
miz wrote:
Stick with Shane Austin for the last 3 games. He can do the job.
on November 14,2011 | 04:18AM
islandsun wrote:
Austin should play. Graves con go in when the game is in hand or if Austin cant get it going. Give more reps to bench QBs to see who has progressed.
on November 14,2011 | 04:41AM
TaiBow wrote:
Graves time is coming - next year. Shane Austin deserves his "time in the sun" now. The Warriors will really have to pull together to get 2 of the next 3 - and it won't be BYU. Go Warriors!!!
on November 14,2011 | 05:12AM
Isaac wrote:
I'd say rotate the QB's each drive and see who steps up. Of course Austin will get the first shot. If he goes 3 and out, let Graves give it a go for a series. First QB to command a scoring drive wins the gig?
on November 14,2011 | 05:13AM
1coconut wrote:
We cant fix things with U/H football by just getting rid of Mac, most of the coaches need to go. Bring in a new coach, Suggest Norm Chow, and give him the freedom to start over with coaches that are more capable in turning around the program.
on November 14,2011 | 05:19AM
WarriorNY wrote:
Forget about Norm Chow already. He's a washed up coach that doesn't even want to be here. Norm Chow is not the answer... Rolo's offense is ten times better than any Chow offense in the past 3 years...
on November 14,2011 | 06:46AM
Anonymous wrote:
chow is another senior citizen past his prime. mike leach is the fit. from pisa to colt to davone, hawaii has always been the place for second chances.
on November 14,2011 | 07:21AM
ScottKaalele wrote:
I agree. Leach would be a great fit.
on November 14,2011 | 09:01AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
Pirates function as a team. There were a lot of castes and classes in England at the time. But with pirates, it didn't matter if you were black, white, rich or poor. The object was to get a treasure. If the captain did a bad job, you could just overthrow him. ” — Coach Mike Leach, using pirates as a metaphor for teamwork and winning in football
on November 15,2011 | 02:09PM
krump1_aka_protector wrote:
Took the words right out of my mouth...verbatim! I'm so tired of people pulling the Norm Chow card or even mentioning Mike Leach for that matter. We're lucky to have Rolo and I hope eventually that he'll take over for Coach Mack, but not right away.
on November 14,2011 | 06:19PM
bleedgreen wrote:
It is ironic that Moniz is out for the season when the coaching staff absolutely refused to play another quarterback under any circumstance this season. Now they have to choose one to finish out the season. All they have to go on is Austin's past performances without any idea of how Graves will perform under the bright lights. They deserve this dilemma.
on November 14,2011 | 05:48AM
frontman wrote:
No UH needs to make the right choice and fire the complete coaching staff starting with Big Mac.
on November 14,2011 | 05:53AM
EyeKea wrote:
Too much focus is being placed on the QB position. There are 10 other guys on the offense that can make or break how the Warriors will do the rest of the season. There are two glaring problems right now that is sputtering our offense; the O line and the receiving corps, both can make any QB look BAD or SUPER. For those who really watch the plays and the players as they execute, you can see they are not all on the same page. There is no cohesiveness on the O line and in some cases, they are just not good enough to stop the opposing defensive line. For the receivers, there are far too many dropped balls and inferior route running. Our receivers just cannot seem to get open and be in the right place at the right time. They also aren't adjusting their route to help the QB when he is in trouble and scrambling. When you think about it, last years success was greatly due to the O line's ability to protect and run block and, of the recervers, 2 are playing Sundays, need I say more? Same QB...
on November 14,2011 | 06:42AM
BO0o07 wrote:
You pretty much summed it up.
on November 14,2011 | 08:24AM
That's what happens when you recruit too much friends and family. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that due to budgetary constraints the primary tool for this staff to selects recruits is a friggin' dart board. I hope whoever replaces McMuffin has more skill in selecting recruits.
on November 14,2011 | 03:47PM
rkyono wrote:
Austin will get most of the reps in practice so Fresno will see new stuff come game day that they wont see on thispast game tape. We got the upper hand now. Just gotta take advantage of these last three games! Can be done!GO WARRIORS!
on November 14,2011 | 06:45AM
frontman wrote:
With home cooked officials, UH should win 2 out of 3
on November 14,2011 | 07:04AM
akuman808 wrote:
I suggest starting Austin. The hook that I would instill in Austin is that if he throws 2 picks, Graves will be put in. He has to make better decisioins because 3 picks in the last game is unacceptable and digs a huge hole. If Graves throws 2 picks then next guy is in. Of course by then the game would be out of reach so might as welll groom next years qb.
on November 14,2011 | 07:54AM
KailuaPride96734 wrote:
I actually think Cayman Shutter the best Qb we have on the roster.
on November 14,2011 | 08:12AM
Imua45 wrote:
Second coming of Colt
on November 14,2011 | 03:56PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
I haven't made it too a practice session yet...I would really like to see this (and believe it!!!)
on November 15,2011 | 02:11PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
I haven't made it too a practice session yet...I would really like to see this (and believe it!!!)
on November 15,2011 | 02:11PM
vernchs wrote:
Not making changes when the team is struggling? Gee Mr. Reardon, you think the team is doing good? I guess you need to stay on the good side of UH for future articles, etc... but you're not being honest. Since when a walk-on beats out recruited players? This means that the coaches are poor recruiters. Maybe we can save on recruiting trips and just have open tryouts. Sounds like a lot of scholarships are being wasted on recruits that rarely plays. Why not change the QB? Sometimes it works like Tim Teebow. Maybe not Super Bowl talent but enough talent to make a difference.
on November 14,2011 | 08:26AM
Dave_Reardon wrote:
Thanks for reading. First of all, I have no reason to try to stay on "the good side of UH," whatever that means. You can question my opinion, but not my honesty. Secondly, have you been watching the games? If so you'd notice that Moniz rarely had time to throw, and when he did the receivers were often running the wrong routes or not getting open. Moniz wasn't the problem. It's the offensive line and receivers.
on November 14,2011 | 01:23PM
Matsu wrote:
Agree 100%. When Moniz had time, and he had his top receivers in (Otsrowski and Pollard), Moniz would tear up the defenses. As soon as Miah went down, Moniz was down to Pollard, then Pollard went down, and Stutzman started to get the rythmn. Too easy to blame Moniz, but if you really know how the Run and shoot works, you understand that the four receivers and the QB are ad-libbing on every play, and if they are not tuned-in, they make the wrong decisions. On top of that, the inexperienced O-line has been torn part by injuries. with all that said, we are prabablt lucky to have the wins we have.
on November 14,2011 | 02:57PM
Agree 90%. The RnS is predicated on WRs being on the same page as the QB. All consistently successful offenses rely on the play of the O-line. That being said, Moniz hasn't been totally flawless in his play and decision-making, but I think the poor product taking the field every Saturday is the result of subpar coaching and recruiting. How do you end up with an O-line that can't block or WRs that are clueless in the offense? JJ inherited VonAppen's 0-12 team and made them winners. MacMuffin has ridden JJ's wave as far as it could take him. Mac's a nice guy and a good defensive coordinator, but he is not a HC and his recruiting is questionable. It's time to say Aloha Oe before the relationship becomes toxic.
on November 14,2011 | 04:20PM
jkjones wrote:
good one. throw the players under the bus. that will save mac a press release.
on November 15,2011 | 07:57PM
BO0o07 wrote:
If we want a bowl game this year, Austin might be the choice but building for the future, Graves or another QB with two or more years to play should be the choice. UH have to win the next two games to be bowl eligible because beating BYU is not going to be an option.
on November 14,2011 | 08:34AM
PCWarrior wrote:
Too bad we still don't have Corey Nielson to go in. Wait, they said he wasn't a DI QB. Wait, who recruited him? Who recruited all these QBs who couldn't beat out a walk on in Moniz? Who recruited all these defensive players who couldn't beat out Paredes at LB? Our local boy walk-ons are great players, but whoever is recruiting for this staff is bringing in players that cannot beat out walk-ons. That is a sad reflection on the state of recruiting at UH. And seems like we be stuck with McMackin unless you got an extra million in your back pocket to pay him off. Many fans just don't care about UH no more. It's expensive, we're poorly coached, drunks in the stands, just not worth the time and money no more.
on November 14,2011 | 08:36AM
aiea7 wrote:
If mack cares about UH football, he would resign - he just does not have it, nor does his coaches. My contention along has been that they have been poor recruiters (not only poor coaches), too many walk ons starting, and now it is showing when injuries show up - lack of depth. If recruited players are worse than walk-ons, then something is really wrong.
on November 14,2011 | 08:37AM
butinski wrote:
Who cares Forget about this mediocre season already.
on November 14,2011 | 09:00AM
2Good2BTrue wrote:
We need to remember there is still a team of many student athletes who deserve the support of the fans for the best opportunity to finish the season. And, yes, while the coaches matter, it would be a terrible injustice if we give up on the rest of the team who have had to live and practice and play through this nightmare season. All the walk-ons, practice squad members, starters, and "emergency" starters deserve the support and appreciation of the people who supported the team at the start of the season. I agree that the coaches, paid for their performance to prepare and motivate their players need to accept the consequences for their choices. But let's save that for the end of the season.
on November 14,2011 | 10:00AM
johngrif wrote:
Most for Austin are all short sighted. I feel bad for the guy but you really need to get Graves in for the experience. Mack will be back next year and needs to win. He won't win if his qb has no game experience. Mediocre teams (or junk) teams shouldn't go to bowl games anyway!
on November 14,2011 | 11:06AM
LizKauai wrote:
Divide and lose or unite and win. ONE TEAM GO WARRIORS!
on November 14,2011 | 11:50AM
krump1_aka_protector wrote:
As usual Liz, you are the voice of Reason and Enlightenment. I wish more people would think the way you do. I'm so tired of those who profess or pretend to be fans, but all they truly offer is lip service rather than much needed support.
on November 14,2011 | 06:27PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
on November 15,2011 | 09:15AM
omd111 wrote:
McMackin needs to make the right choice and RESIGN.
on November 14,2011 | 03:07PM
Imua45 wrote:
Don't forget Cayman Shutter, could be another Colt Brennan in the making. At this point, let's prepare for the future & have Graves & Shutter finish the season, it might be a move that could save Mac's job.
on November 14,2011 | 03:54PM
uniwarrior wrote:
Hands down Austin is the best choice and the only choice. Worrying about next season is not right thinking. We have three (maybe four) games to focus on this season. Besides, if the Mac haters get their way and a new coach comes in, the new coach will most certainly bring in his own QB, so prepping either Shutter or Graves is a moot point. Focus on Fresno and give Austin the rest of the team our support so they can get on with the task at hand - and that is playing their best for the State of Hawaii.
on November 14,2011 | 06:22PM
krump1_aka_protector wrote:
I"ve always said I like Shane as the starter and to add a wrinkle, David can go into the backfield as a half-back where he could run, throw or even take a Wildcat snap once in awhile. It would drive Defenses crazy and keep them on their heels rather than just bringing everybody to blitz, etc. No matter who starts, I'm confident they have the right stuff.
on November 14,2011 | 06:23PM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
A good idea. That would make the defense real honest. But can he block?
on November 15,2011 | 09:17AM
Bully wrote:
If you want a really good college coach then you need to pay for it, we think a million dollars a year should buy us a good coach but we are actually paying of what we got. The going rate is 2- 4 million for a good coach and I doubt if Hawaii will ever be willing to pay for that.
on November 15,2011 | 06:28AM
RandyC73 wrote:
I feel Hawaii should start off Shane Austin because of his arm strength, throws nice tight sparrow's and pretty accurate! But I would mixe it up with Graves in their because he gives us another option; the running option! If we do look for another coach; I hope we select an offense minded coach who likes to score points and not worry about embarassing them; because who ever we play they also try to embarass us! Take that game in frenos state in 2004 to you folks think they thought about not embarassing us! I don't think so!
on November 15,2011 | 09:57AM
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