Just 57 days after earning a 52-35 victory over Middle Tennessee State in the Hawai'i Bowl, the University of Hawai'i football squad went back to work on Cooke Practice Field with the opening day of spring practice.
Opening their spring session among the earliest of any Division I program this season, the Rainbow Warriors went to work in a two-hour helmets and shorts practice on Monday, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Players, and fans shouldn't expect to get too comfortable in the late start, adjusted for the President's Day holiday, as most of the 15 allowable spring practices are scheduled for the typical 6:30 a.m.
"We got to be together again," second-year head coach Nick Rolovich said. "This wasn't something that they dreaded. They're excited and that's something I feel is a good sign for our program."
Looking refreshed and ready to get after it building on last year's turnaround 7-7 campaign, which ended with not only the first bowl bid since 2010, but an additional victory, the Rainbow Warriors flew around while the coaching staff emphasized teaching, not just coaching, within Rolovich's detail-oriented approach.
Aside from position drills, the Rainbow Warriors took on special teams and multiple team and offense/defense live sets, including an uptempo offense vs. defense period. As opposed to last season's installation-based approach, the players' familiarity with both the staff and the system allowed the squad to tear right into the details. The focus in the early days of UH's spring is aimed at boosting fundamentals for the returning players, as well as 11 newcomers (including walk-ons).
"There's a much higher level of comfort within the schemes," Rolovich said. "The standard of how we expect them to act as people and teammates is there, so we'll get a quicker start this year."
A trio of coaches working in new roles were able to dig in with their personnel, as newly-appointed defensive coordinator not only worked with the defensive tackles, but also patrolled among the coordinators during team periods, making adjustments to his unit between plays. Mayur Chaudhari worked penetration details with not only the special teams but also the defensive ends, while the latest addition, safeties coach Jacob Yoro got embedded with both the special teamers and the secondary.
Having nearly the entire staff and 84 players from last year's roster helps to build internal comfortability and expand on the momentum of last season. Continuity will stand to only make this squad better.
"No matter what you do, if you get complacent, you're not going to be the best at it," Rolovich said. "Spring is about a few things – It's about getting to know our teammates better, learning how to depend on those guys and understanding how to build this trust."
The first day is in the books, but the Rainbow Warriors have 14 more sessions to utilize across the coming month.
"I don't feel good," Rolovich responded to a question about his feelings after the first day. "I'm sorry it's over. I like being out here with these guys. It was really a good time being out here. They're a fun group to be around. You don't yearn for the film sessions, you don't yearn for the weightlifting, really it's getting out here and playing football that everyone is looking forward to."
The Rainbow Warriors will be back at it soon enough. The next scheduled spring practice is Friday at 6:30 a.m., while Saturday's (undetermined time) practice will introduce pads for the Rainbow Warriors.
Upcoming 2017 Spring Practice Dates (times subject to change)
Friday, Feb. 24 6:30 a.m.
Saturday, Feb. 25 TBA
Tuesday, Feb. 28 6:30 a.m.
Thursday, Mar. 2 6:30 a.m.
Saturday, Mar. 4 TBA
Tuesday, Mar. 7 6:30 a.m.
Thursday, Mar. 9 6:30 a.m.
Saturday, Mar. 11 TBA
Tuesday, Mar. 14 6:30 a.m.
Thursday, Mar. 16 6:30 a.m.
Saturday, Mar. 11 TBA
Tuesday, Mar. 21 6:30 a.m.
Wednesday, Mar. 22 7:00 a.m.
Thursday, Mar. 23 TBA
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