Chang looks to keep Warriors healthy through spring

Feb. 10—Not an early start, injuries nor Friday's earthquake have impacted the Hawaii football team's first two weeks of spring training.

Not an early start, injuries nor Friday's earthquake have impacted the Hawaii football team's first two weeks of spring training.

Friday's eighth spring practice featured a controlled scrimmage with referees.

"It's been really good, " said Timmy Chang, whose third spring ball as head coach was moved up to allow more workouts and recovery ahead of the 2024 season.

"The players, they're what makes it good, " Chang said. "Their knowledge, their commitment to wanting to be better, that's what makes this team go. We're just trying to put them in the right position, coach them right. But it was a good two weeks.

Several players have been held out of contact drills to recover from injuries, including safety Peter Manuma, wideout Alex Perry, defensive end Wynden Ho 'ohuli, running back Derek Boyd and linebacker Logan Taylor.

"We just want to stay injury free, " Chang said. "There's a guy here, there's a guy there (who are injured ). We just lost another one."

Defensive back Makana Meyer recently suffered a knee injury.

Last month, the Warriors hired four coaches : Dan Morrison as co-offensive coordinator, pass-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach ; Dennis Thurman as defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach ; Anthony Arceneaux to coach running backs and Jeff Reinebold to lead the defensive tackles and nose guards.

"It's just great having these new coaches out here, a lot of experience, " quarterback Brayden Schager said.

Last year, Chang took over the offensive play-calling and implemented a run-and-shoot base. This season, the tight end will be incorporated more in four-wide sets. The Warriors also added several running backs.

"We've got a lot coming back, and some new ones coming in, " Schager said. "It's been great."

As for the early start to spring training, Schager said, "it feels like we were just out here. It feels like we're in season. Everybody really understands what we're doing. And having a year (of the run-and-shoot ) under our belts like we did, and getting everything down, and starting to play better toward the end (of the 2023 season ), that all carried over to spring ball."

Thurman, who was defensive coordinator for two NFL teams, said there have been "some good, some not-so-good " moments in spring training.

"The reality of it is, that's football, " Thurman said. "We're learning, we're growing. The guys are giving maximum effort, and that's all you can really ask of them."

Thurman estimated installing 25 % to 30 % of the defensive plays. "I don't expect them to pick it up right away, " Thurman said. "We have seven, eight months before our first game. We're taking our time. The most important thing is they continue to get better technically and fundamentally."

Last year, the Warriors averaged 11.1 missed tackles per game. Thurman has implored the Warriors to embrace a hunter's mindset.

"Tackling is want-to, " Thurman said. "You can work on tackling all you want. What it really comes down to is : do you want to get the man on the ground ? There are techniques you can use. There are fundamentals that you can use. But it really comes down to is desire. If you want to get him on the ground, you will. If you don't, you won't."