What We Learned At Hawaii Spring Football

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What We Learned At Hawaii Spring Football

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Timmy Chang‘s first spring football

Hawaii Warrior fans, we got the right guy. Since being hired on January 23rd, Head Coach Timmy Chang has worked tirelessly to rebuild the culture of the program. He’s put together an energetic staff of young and hungry coaches who have ties to Hawaii or the Polynesian community and share his vision of the #BRADDDAHOOD culture that he is trying to instill. From the looks of it, the players have bought in. I was able to attend a couple of spring practices and the feeling I had leaving campus was, this guy is a natural. He has that ‘quarterback in the huddle’ swagger and looks completely comfortable leading his alma mater.

Coach Chang has brought a new energy to not only the football team, but the entire athletics department. He’s encouraged his players to go out and support the other athletics teams, given rallying halftime speeches at both a Men’s and Women’s basketball game leading to come from behind victories, thrown out the first pitch at a baseball game (Basebows are on an 8 game winning streak), and on Saturday night around 6000 fans showed up to the Island Day Spring Game. It was a great event with activities for the kids, a concert by local reggae band ‘Rebel Souljahz’, food vendors, and it was capped off by a spring game that got Warrior fans excited about the Timmy Chang era.

It was one of the best turnouts I’ve personally seen at a UH spring game. The fans were happy and enjoying the evening but more importantly, the players were happy. They looked like they were having a great time and soaking in the community support. Football is supposed to be fun and if any of the players lost that joy for the game last year, it seems to be back now. That can be attributed to Coach Chang and his staff. You can tell from the pre-game warm-ups that this staff is different from last season. They bring the energy and enthusiasm and the players are feeding off of it. Timmy is building something special and this is just the beginning.

Game Observations: (Some of the jersey numbers on Saturday night did not match the roster so I could be wrong on a couple of these)

-The Ha’a is back. Get hyped!

-First team Offense seems to be playing together on the Black team. Brayden Schager gets the first reps at QB with that unit. WR Zion Bowens, WR Jonah Panoke (I believe he was wearing 11 for the spring game), Slot James Phillips, TE Caleb Phillips, RB Dedrick Parsons

O-Line left to right: (Using the jersey numbers worn on Saturday and matching it with the current roster) 75 Ilm Manning, 66 Sergio Muasau, 61 Ekili Tanuvasa, 70 Arasi Mose, 71 Micah Vanterpool.

-It seems like the defensive starters are mixed up a little more between both the White and Black teams. I could also be completely wrong and the Black squad could be the first team defense. That would mean that some players outplayed others during the spring and shook up the depth chart. For example, I would assume that Isaiah Tufaga and Penei Pavihi would be the starting linebackers and they were on the Black team, but a couple key contributors from last season who I thought would slide into starting roles in corner Hugh Nelson and safety Solo Turner were on the White team.

-Cornerback Virdell Edwards looks big and moves fluidly for someone of his size.

-Dedrick Parsons looks like he has taken his game to another level and is ready to be the lead back.

-Brayden Schager dropped a dime to Zion Bowens for about 40 yards. Great throw and great job by Bowens to get under it and make the catch. Bowens looks good. Speed kills.

-Schager 2/2 TD’s on his first 2 drives. Marching the ball up and down the field. Looks confident. Throwing the ball on time and accurately. Looks like the clear cut QB1 exiting spring ball.

-QB Jake Farrell is looking solid tonight. He is getting the ball out of his hands quickly and giving his guys the chance to make plays. It looks like he will challenge for that number 2 QB spot because Cammon Cooper is struggling to complete passes tonight. Not a great showing for the Wazzu transfer.

-Running back Nasjzae Bryant took a swing pass, broke a tackle and gained about 40 yards. He looks like he will contribute this season and help keep Parsons fresh.

-The star of the game was local (Campbell HS) product Tamatoa Mokiao-Atimalala. Mokiao-Atimalala scored 3 touchdowns on the night including a 70 yard slant from Farrell that he took to the house. He should make a push up the depth chart after a performance like that.

-If the black team is the first team defense, it is a little concerning that Farrell and the 2nd unit offense have been marching up and down the field in this first half.

-Freshman Peter Manuma likes him some contact. Big collision with Dedrick Parsons on the first drive and another one with Stephen Fiso later in the first half. Impressive to see a first year guy play with that kind of physicality.

-Kicker Matthew Shipley just nailed a 55 yard FG. It looked like it could’ve been good from 60. Earlier on the opening kick-off, Kyler Halvorsen bombed it past the endzone and it hit the student section bleachers on the fly. Off topic but if you haven’t already, you should go and watch Shipley mic’d up on Youtube. It’s hilarious. Exactly what you think kickers would be doing during practice.

-Leonard Lee played safety for the Black team and ended the night with 2 INTs. Going from being kicked off the team by Coach Graham in December to being the defensive player of the spring game, Lee seems to really be taking advantage of this second chance.

-Awesome to see so many local players step up and make plays on Saturday night. Seemed like there were a lot of local recruits in attendance so I hope they took it to heart and will consider the Warriors when making their college decisions.

-There are some holes to fill (we still have a few scholarships available for this class and not all of the 2022 signees are on campus yet) and things to work on as everybody is learning new schemes, but it was a great outing for the program.

Saturday’s event brought the community together to support the home team. It is something that has been missing for so long and feels so good for it to be back. I brought my 4-month-old son Owen to his first UH football game. I fully intend on passing my love and fandom for this team on to him, just like my Grandpa did for my Dad, and just like my Dad did for me. I know that I’m not alone in that tradition and I know that many like me are excited for what is to come in the Timmy Chang era. 131 days until Vanderbilt. The program is headed in the right direction and as always, let’s go Bows!


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