HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The pajama party is over.
The University of Hawaii football team traded in shorts and shirts for full pads on Saturday for the first time this spring, giving head coach Nick Rolovich his first look at a team playing football with an element of physicality.
"They battled through," Rolovich told reporters after the conclusion of practice. "You put the pads on, start banging, it tests your will a little bit."
Rolovich and the coaching staff wasted little time before testing the wills of select players, electing to hold a three-on-three competition drill, offense against defense, just minutes into practice.
The drill, which pits three blockers against three defenders in a confined space and challenges one of them to tackle a ball carrier, is one that focuses more on fight, not form.
"That's what that whole drill is about, us coming together and competing as brothers," said offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi. "The drill has nothing to do with our own personal position techniques. It's about man on man, 'who has the biggest heart at the end of the day' kind of thing."
"Today went awesome," defensive lineman Kennedy Tulimasealii added. "To just put my head into an offensive lineman, just drive him back, there's no other feeling like that."
Though the competition was the first of Hawaii's spring sessions with pads, it wasn't the first contest of the weekend. Rolovich and the other coaches challenged the entire football team to a water balloon fight as an April Fools prank on Friday, then posted a video of the encounter to the athletic department's YouTube page.
Hawaii will take the next two days off from practice before returning to the field on Tuesday morning.