The Hawaii football team closed the first act of spring training with hopeful reviews and possible role changes.
"I thought we made a lot of improvement, especially on special teams," UH head coach Greg McMackin said of the first five practices.
Yesterday’s 2-hour workout concluded with a moderate-contact situational scrimmage. The Warriors are on a one-week hiatus for spring break and then will have 10 practices, including an April 9 scrimmage in Hilo and the April 15 Warrior Bowl on the Manoa campus.
McMackin said there are 60 players competing for spots on the six special-teams units. He said the coverage specialists are separated into four groups: 1) small but fast; 2) medium-sized but fast; 3) linebackers and defensive ends, and 4) linemen.
"We’re really evaluating special teams," McMackin said. "We’re looking for guys who can run down and get the job done. We’ll have some we’ll take off our list and some we’ll put back on."
The Warriors also have focused on rebuilding an offense that returns only two starters — quarterback Bryant Moniz and right wideout Royce Pollard. Both are seniors.
"We’re getting there," Moniz said of the offense. "We’re moving receivers around, trying to put together all of the puzzle pieces. We started at ‘1,’ and now we’re at ‘6.’ We’ll probably finish camp at a ‘7’ or ‘8.’ We need to come out of fall camp at a ’10.’"
The No. 2 quarterback job remains open. Shane Austin, who will be a senior in the fall, has the most experience. David Graves and Cayman Shutter have taken a lot of reps this spring.
"We know what Shane can do," offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said. "We want to see what the other guys can do."
Rolovich said Pollard is set at right wideout, but the three other receiver positions will not be solidified until fall camp this August.
When spring training opened, left wideout Darius Bright, left slotback Allen Sampson and right slotback Terence Bell were on the first team. The past two practices, Corey Paclebar and Billy Ray Stutzmann were the No. 1 slotbacks. Bright, Joe Avery and Sampson shared reps at left wideout yesterday.
"We have to find the best four, and their best fit in the scheme," Rolovich said.
The Warriors are awaiting the return of right slotback Miah Ostrowski, who is moonlighting as a point guard with the UH basketball team. He rejoins the Warriors when the basketball season ends.
"We don’t want them to lose, but to hurry up," Moniz mused.
Rolovich said recruits Promise Amadi, Chris Gant and Trevor Davis will have opportunities to compete for playing time when they join the team for training camp.
"We’ll see how they compete when they get here," Rolovich said.
Sterling Jackson, who will go on scholarship in August, remains as the No. 1 running back. But Joey Iosefa, who redshirted in 2010, has been impressive.
"Joey is having a great camp," Rolovich said. "As far as expectations, he’s exceeded them."
Running backs Will Gregory and Jared Leaf will join the Warriors this summer.
"We may need one of those young guys to help us early," Rolovich said.
Rolovich said one option is to play Gregory or Leaf this coming season. The other one would redshirt, enabling the Warriors to place them in different eligibility classes.
"There are a lot of options this year," Rolovich said.