HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Warriors closed their first training camp under new head coach Todd Graham on Saturday with a live scrimmage at an empty Aloha Stadium.
Even though the stands were quiet, senior wide receiver Jared Smart says the team was anxious to return to their home turf.
“It was definitely fun, myself and the whole team, all of us were excited once we got the text last night that our scrimmage was going to be here, so a lot of us were happy and excited, definitely a good feeling.” Smart told reporters after Saturday’s scrimmage.
Smart is coming off of an impressive junior season for the 'Bows, now under new offensive coordinator G.J. Kinne, the California native is making sure the offense is eliminating costly penalties.
“I feel as if the offense had a good day, but there are definitely things like penalties that we can work on, but overall seeing the team flying around, seeing how we can move efficiently and all that is definitely a good feeling.” Smart said.
On the other side of the ball, junior safety Khoury Bethley had his defensive teammates fired up, ready to compete with the offense.
“Everyone was fired up, just from going into the stadium, that just turned it up more, so we were competing, talking back and forth with the offense.” Bethley said.
After playing in all 15 games for the Warriors last year, Bethley is taking on more of a leadership role heading into this season, making sure the defense performs at all times.
“Coach Graham is always on us to make sure the defense is right, because a lot of guys are going to look up to us, so we’ve got to be the same person everyday and just motivate guys so we can be our best.” Bethley said.
Coach Graham has emphasized the importance of eliminating the simple mistakes throughout the whole camp, but the first year head coach was happy with the way his team practiced today.
“The Two main goals in establishing elite discipline is 100% ball security and that’s something that we want to improve on and then penalties, you know penalties are a great indicator of the discipline of your team.” Coach Graham said.
“It was really productive, it was nice to get in here, obviously it creates a great energy with our guys.”
The 'Bows will have to create their own energy all season, with COVID-19 restrictions all stadiums that UH will play in this year will either be at limited capacity or empty.
According to coach Graham, bringing the juice on your own is easy, if you truly love the game of football.
“All I need is a 100 yard field and we’re going to bring it.” Coach said.
“Our guys did today, there wasn’t a soul in the crowd and there was passion today, you know passion comes from within, it’s not externally motivated.”
Saturday’s trip to Aloha Stadium marked the end of training camp and the beginning of their preparation for Fresno State — set to kickoff exactly two weeks from Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I think our guys had a great spirit today, they competed, I like how they competed, but we’ve got a lot of work to do in two weeks to make sure we eliminate the defects.” Coach said.
“Now that we’ve broken camp, we’ll start working two-minute, four-minute, all of that situational stuff and now it’s all focus on Fresno.”
The Rainbow Warriors open the season on October 24th, on the road at Fresno State.