HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just two weeks away from their season opener with Fresno State, the Rainbow Warriors defense looks to be dominant on the field — despite not having a traditional off season.
That is no excuse, according to Senior Defensive End Derek Thomas, who trained as if the season wasn’t initially postponed.
“There’s no other way to say it, the time is short, it’s now, it’s here and It’s time to rock.” Thomas told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “I was preparing like we had a season starting a month ago.”
Thomas made a statement at the end of last season, recording a career-high nine tackles in the 'Bows Christmas Eve win against BYU in the Hawaii Bowl.
Even though Thomas had a breakout game to close 2019, the California native is striving to get better everyday.
“I’m never really satisfied with where I am.” Thomas said. “For me, it’s really just trying to perfect my craft at this point, you know coach is going to try and put us in the right position to make the plays.”
Going into his final year with the Rainbow Warriors, Thomas will be under new defensive coordinator Victor Santa Cruz, absorbing all of the knowledge coming from his new play caller.
“Two things that coach (Santa Cruz) always tells us is to have good effort, have a good attitude.” Thomas said. “If you can apply that to anything you do, whether it be pass rush, school, relationships, you’ll be successful.”
Under coach Santa Cruz, the UH defense will have to be versatile — finding the right people for the right spot.
“We’ve got a lot of athletes on the field that we can really move around, so I think coach at the moment is trying to find the best eleven guys to put on the field.” Thomas said. “If we want to go 8-0 this season and make it to the Mountain West (Championship), which we will, we have to continue to sharpen iron with iron.”
Last week, the 'Bows practice was cut short after four players tested positive for COVID-19, halting all team activities for three days — a rude wake up call for uncertain a season during a pandemic can be.
“At any given day, your number could get called, you could be the fourth string now and the first string tomorrow, so i think it definitely was a huge wake up call for a lot of guys.” Thomas said. “We’ve got to stay apart, we’ve got to keep the mask up, got to wash the hands. You can’t socialize with people who we’re not seeing everyday, those are sacrifices you have to make, but that’s what makes a championship team.”
Thomas and the Rainbow Warriors open the season on October 24th, a road game against Fresno State.