Tuesday, July 29, 2014         


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UH practices on tough turf

By Stephen Tsai


PARK RIDGE, N.J. » After a 9-hour, nonstop flight and intensive meetings, the next thing on the Hawaii football team's to-do list was a kick-asphalt practice.

For about 45 minutes yesterday, the Warriors had a walk-through practice in the back parking lot of the hotel where they are staying in preparation for Saturday's game against Army.

The parking-stall lines served as markers. Orange cones denoted the sidelines.

Several players wore socks but no shoes. Defensive tackle Haku Correa practiced in bare feet.

"I didn't want to wear my brand-new cleats," said Correa, who did not pack sneakers for this 13-day road trip.

Quarterback Bryant Moniz said the workout brought back memories.

"I played football on the streets of Wahiawa all of the time," Moniz said. "It's a little bit more windy than usual. It's a little cooler than Wahiawa. But I like it. The roads are paved better here, not like California Avenue."

Of the parking lot, offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich mused: "The 'turf' was a little hard."

Because the Warriors opened their season the past Thursday, they were allowed an extra practice Saturday.

"We did a lot of the physical work (in practices Monday and Tuesday)," McMackin said. "After a long flight, I wanted them to go out and go through the plays."

The defense worked on alignments and recognizing keys. The offense, which conducted its session in a neighboring parking lot, focused on positioning.

"All you need are people to line up," linebacker Aaron Brown said. "It's about mental preparation."

Park Ridge is a New Jersey suburb. The hotel is surrounded by tall trees. Late yesterday afternoon, with the setting sun providing a twilight background, the temperature dipped into the high 60s.

"It's wonderful football weather," said UH associate head coach Rich Miano, who was born in Massachusetts and played for the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. "Obviously, it's going to be more humid and hot at 12 o'clock Saturday. But it feels like you're in football country. You drive by the new stadium where the Jets and Giants play. You realize we're here to play Army. You couldn't ask for a better college venue."

Assistant coach Mouse Davis, who once was a head coach for a pro team in New Jersey, said he had lived several miles away.

"This is nice weather for here," Davis said. "It's just that I've got Hawaii in my blood, and it feels chilly."

Moniz, who was held out of practices Saturday and Monday after being hit on the helmet in the opener, said he was fine. He will start against Army.

Right tackle Laupepa Letuli, who is recovering from a strained right calf, said he will be ready for the Warriors' scheduled 2-hour practice today at a local high school. Such an injury usually requires two weeks of treatment.

"For some reason," Letuli said, "I'm healing fast."

Miano praised the Warriors' work during yesterday's walk-through session.

"These guys were really focused in," Miano said. "It proves it doesn't matter if you practice on a football field or in a parking lot. When the guys are focused in, you get a lot out of it."

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