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Red-hot Warriors welcome cold

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OGDEN, Utah » At the end of yesterday’s 2-hour football practice, Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin signaled for sportscaster Robert Kekaula to lead the Warriors in a workout-closing cheer.

The players then yelled out a not-appropriate-for-network-TV phrase.

"It was very inspiring," quarterback Bryant Moniz said. "He should be in a movie. It was like Al Pacino in ‘Any Given Sunday.’"

McMackin said the players responded well when Kekaula delivered a two-word pep talk at the end of a practice last season.

"Robert is a very inspiring individual," McMackin said. "He usually has something unique to say. Which he did. Which we can’t quote."

McMackin said finding the appropriate speaker is "just as important as a coin flip. I’m very strategic about that."

The Warriors, it seems, have tried to cover all areas in preparing for tomorrow’s road game against Utah State. They arrived in Utah a day earlier than usual to get used to the 4-hour time difference and the elevation. (Utah State’s Logan campus is about 4,500 feet above sea level.) The Warriors practiced yesterday at Weber State’s field.

They went through accelerated defensive drills to get ready for the Aggies’ no-huddle, no-pause offense.

And they packed long-sleeved undershirts because the weather forecast raises the possibility of sleet.

"I’m not worried about the cold," Moniz said. "I’ve got the A/C on 50 right now at the hotel. I’m ready for the cold."

Running back Alex Green said the slick conditions will not be a hindrance.

"It’ll feel like playing back home," said Green, who was raised in Portland.

Center Bronson Tiwanak said he played in cold conditions when he was at Fresno City College.

"The ball does feel a little more slippery when it’s real cold," Tiwanak said. "It shouldn’t be a problem. I usually use gloves during the game."

Linebacker Jake Heun said he welcomes a drop in the thermometer.

"It sounds amazing," Heun said. "All it means is when you hit people, they feel it more."

Heun was raised in Alaska.

"Our state championship is in October," Heun said. "In early October it’s already 10, 15 degrees."

Heun said Utah’s chill does not compare to Alaska’s weather, where the ground turns stone-cold hard.

"If you think about it," Heun said of Alaska’s late-autumn weather, "it’s too cold to bury the dead."

McMackin said: "Some people think the weather is going to change. We just have to wait. We have gear if it changes. We’ve played in the rain. It’s football. We have to see how the weather is when we get there. We have to play in the elements. We’re fortunate in Hawaii; there’s only one element."

The Warriors are expected to be in improved health. Right tackle Laupepa Letuli and middle linebacker George Daily-Lyles both made the trip despite suffering sprained ankles against Nevada last week. Both were able to run on the side yesterday.

"I’m mentally strong," Letuli said.

Also, linebacker Po’okela Ahmad, who suffered from light-headedness during the Nevada game, participated in all drills yesterday. He was told he did not have a concussion.

"After the game, I felt fine," Ahmad said. "I went to school on Monday, and I felt fine. I got cleared on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I tried to run, and I felt fine. I’m fine."

 

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