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Hawaii football team returns to practice after 4 players tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday

  • COURTESY HAWAII ATHLETICS
                                Members of the UH football team practiced on Tuesday.

    COURTESY HAWAII ATHLETICS

    Members of the UH football team practiced on Tuesday.

The University of Hawaii football team practiced for two hours on Saturday — its first full workout since four players received positive results for the coronavirus on Wednesday.

All four are in isolation and under medical observation. Their release from isolation will depend largely on how long they are free of symptoms.

The Rainbow Warriors were about 30 minutes into Wednesday’s practice — their first in full pads — when they halted workouts after the positive-test notifications. There were about 140 tests administered on Tuesday as part of the NCAA’s back-to-play protocol, and there were no other positive results beyond those four.

Saturday’s practice was exactly three weeks from the scheduled season opener against Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium. To make up for the missed practices on Thursday and Friday, the Warriors will have an organized workout today. The Warriors’ usual preference is not to practice on Sundays. They will not practice the next two Fridays.

During workouts and meetings, the Warriors have adhered to state guidelines on health and safety. All their meetings are outdoors, with players, coaches and staff wearing masks and seated at least 6 feet apart. For team meetings, players not on the two-deep chart watch on monitors set up at a separate location. Players wear masks during weight-training sessions. The coaches wear masks during practices.

“We’re doing everything we can to be safe,” said Todd Graham, who was hired as head coach in January. “You’ve got to control all different aspects, and that’s just not here (on campus). That’s where (the players) live, if they have roommates, all that type of stuff.”

Graham said he is not willing to “concede” that infections are inevitable.

“We want to keep it out of here,” Graham said. “I surely don’t want to have it. I don’t want anybody on this team to have it.”

Graham added: “We’re learning every day about better ways to keep each other safe. At the end of the day, if we want to play, we’ve got to do a tremendous job of keeping each other healthy and safe.”

For Saturday’s practice, the Warriors were in “shells” — light shoulder padding and thigh boards — and focused on tackling, tracking (defensive positioning to limit a ball-carrier’s angles), and blocking. Graham said the Warriors worked on those fundamentals more on Saturday than they usually would at this time of training camp.

With the run-and-gun offense adding air raid wrinkles to the run-and-shoot scheme of the past two years and a new attacking defense, it might not be possible for the Warriors to master their entire menu of plays in time for the opener.

But Graham indicated the first-game goal is to be “fundamentally sound … line up, know what you’re supposed to do, do it with great speed and physicality.”

Chevan Cordeiro, a third-year sophomore who is 4-0 as a starter, is the announced No. 1 quarterback. Graham said Kamali‘i Akina and Boone Abbott have taken snaps with the second-team offense. Akina redshirted at Arizona State in 2016, when Graham was the Sun Devils’ head coach.

The Warriors open the season with consecutive road games against Fresno State on Oct. 24 and Wyoming on Oct. 31. Asked about the early road challenge, Graham told reporters: “We’re doing a back handspring fired up to go on the road. Anywhere, any place, whatever they give us. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to be a program about competing for championships.”

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For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.

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