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Ferd's Words

UH defense has enough time and talent to stop Army

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The University of Hawaii’s defensive playbook is a reported 418 well-crafted pages.

And, no, Leo Tolstoy wasn’t the author.

For a college athlete, that can be a lot to digest in the first weeks of school, especially with everything else going on.

Whether the thickness of the playbook was the problem or merely a symbol of UH attempting too much too soon and not being able to do it well enough, it is clear the Warriors need to simplify or refine some things on defense.

When you put up 588 yards and score 36 points on a nationally ranked team without committing a turnover, you should be able to walk away with something more than a two-touchdown loss.

And the Warriors weren’t in a 49-36 loss to No. 14 Southern California on Thursday night.

To be sure, there were other breakdowns that contributed to the loss — a sky punt returned 89 yards for a touchdown and dropped passes, to name a few.

But when it comes to the defense, it wasn’t just the loss but also how some of it played out on that side of the ball. Too many times, it seemed the Warriors had to rush just to get the right players onto the field and into the right positions.

In a couple of instances, USC lined up with uncovered wide receivers until UH scrambled someone into position to defend them.

"Defensively we’ve got a lot of work to do," UH coach Greg McMackin acknowledged afterward. "I think we’ve got to take a look at everything."

That’s a good attitude to take, and this is definitely the week to employ it, because the Warriors have their longest break until November in which to do it.

With the Thursday night game against USC, UH had nine days until teeing it up at Army on Sept. 11 in which to work out the kinks.

As the old coaches’ saying goes, teams usually make their biggest improvement from the first week to the second.

And the Warriors will need to if they are to be assignment ready for Army, whose disciplined operation of the triple-option offense has the ability to dine on breakdowns and missed assignments.

The good news is two-fold here: There is nobody else of USC’s talent, speed or size left lurking on the regular-season schedule; and the Warriors have shown they can shut down an option offense before and not all that long ago, either. Witness the 24-17 victory over Navy 10 months ago.

Moreover, the Warriors are not as devoid of ability or a scheme as they sometimes appeared in surrendering 524 yards to the Trojans.

Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda got the Warriors ready to put the brakes on Navy last year in a remarkable effort that helped earn him the title for this year.

McMackin said, "I know this: I know we have good enough players and I know we’re gonna be a good football team because we played a good football team and there were a lot of positives that we can bring from that game."

And, hopefully, take with them on the road, too.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com>

 

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