‘Bows loading up a new shooter | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Bows loading up a new shooter

Darrell Moody

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of nine articles previewing football teams in the Western Athletic Conference. Today, the LVN looks at the University of Hawaii Rainbows.

It’s a new era in University of Hawaii football.

For the first time in six years, somebody besides Timmy Chang will quarterback the Rainbow’s wide-open Run and Shoot offense.

Chang threw for 17,072 yards and 117 touchdowns in his four-plus years running the Hawaii offense. He leaves some huge holes to fill.

Jones said the top contenders for Chang’s job are Tyler Graunke (5-11, 179), a redshirt freshman, and Colt Brennan (6-3, 205), a junior. Graunke, who set passing records in Arizona during his high school career, redshirted last year after hurting his collarbone in fall practice. Brennan led Saddleback Community College to a conference title last year. Kainoa Akina passed for 84 yards and rushed for 102 yards last year behind Chang.

“Tyler is a competitive kid,” Jones said. “He’s real tough. Colt is a talented guy. If we had to start right now, Brunke would be the No. 1 guy.

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“Timmy did so many things because he had been in the system for so long. We’re going to put everything in (offensive package) the first few days. Their heads will be swimming. We’ll scale it down and do what they can handle.”

The remainder of the offense, according to Jones, will be just as young. Jones said there could be at least six skill-position starters who have never started a college game. That’s a pretty scary thought when you consider Hawaii has had one of the best offenses in the country since Jones came in 1999.

All four starting receivers are gone, including Chad Owens, who caught 102 passes for 1,290 yards and 17 scores, and Jason Rivers, who caught 80 passes for 973 yards and seven scores.

Ian Sample (7-71) and Marcus Weems (1-6) are the top returnees at X receiver. Jason Ferguson (2-60) and Davone Bess are the leading candidates at H receiver. Nate Ilaoa, who hasn’t played since 2003, rushed six times for 56 yards and caught passes for 583 yards and three touchdowns. He’s competing with Patrick Olchovy and Ryan Grice-Mullen. Ross Dickerson (15-143-1) and Chad Mock are battling for the Z receiver spot.

Jones compared Bess, a true freshman from Skyline High in Oakland, Calif. , to past UH greats Ashley Lelie, Drew Hill and Owens.

“Physically and mentally he was great,” Jones said. “The game isn’t going to be too big for him.

“They are very green,” said receivers coach Ron Lee in the UH media guide. “The veterans we had were all fifth-year seniors who had a lot of big games under their belts. This is truly a rebuilding year for the receivers. The key is to get the guys to understand the offense in a short amount of time.”

The Rainbows have four starters back on the line led by freshman All-American and all-WAC perfomer left guard Samson Satele (6-2, 278), who is nursing a sore shoulder.

“He’s not 100 percent,” Jones said. “He will play. We want him o get through the season without re-injuring it.”

Satele had 41 knockdown blocks and yielded only three sacks in 636 passing attempts.

Brandon Eaton (6-2, 291) will move from right tackle to right guard. He started all 13 games last year, yielding four sacks. Derek Faavi (6-0, 271) returns at center. Tala Esera (6-3, 291) and Dane Uperesa (6-5, 328) man the tackle slots.

Jeremy Inferrera (6-2, 284) is the reserve at guard, Marques Kaonohi (6-0, 269) backs up Faavi and Keith Ah-Soon (6-1, 297) will work at tackle.

Hawaii has to replace its best running backs Michael Brewster (113-722-6 TDs) and West Keliikipi (72-336-7). Kala Latuselu (7-29-1) and Bryan Maneafaiga (4-19-1) are the leading candidates. Ilaoa can also play here.

Jones lured the legendary Jerry Glanville, who was head coach in Houston and Atlanta, out of retirement. Glanville is the Rainbows’ defensive coordinator, and if he coaches like he did in the NFL, expect Hawaii to blitz plenty and put the cornerbacks on an island.

“Coaches don’t change,” Jones said. “Jerry will do a good job working within our package. It’s been fun the last three weeks having him around.

“He brings a tremendous amount of game-day experience. He has the ability to coach, make adjustments and he already has gotten the kids to play hard for him.”

Left end Melila Purcell (6-4, 266) is the leader of the defense. He finished with 74 tackles, 16 of those behind the line. Kila Kamakawiwo’ole (6-3, 241) and Tony Akpan (6-6, 274) return at end, too. Kamakawiwo’ole had 48 stops and Akpan, a converted basketball player, had 16 stops.

Line coach Vantz Singletary said Purcell comes as close to being a superstar because “he leaves it all on the field.”

Several new names are on the depth chart at defensive tackle, including Kahai LaCount (6-2, 297), Michael Lafaele (6-1, 297), Larry Sauafea (6-2, 289) and Lawrence Wilson (6-1, 300).

Singletary said in the media guide that he won’t know much about his tackles until he sees them until they get on the field in games.

The secondary led by free safety Leonard Peters, who led the ‘Bows with 120 tackles and had a second-best four interceptions.

Lono Manners (5-10, 204) and Landon Kafentzis (6-0, 194) are battling for the strong safety job. Lamar Broadway (5-11,175) is bound to get playing time after compiling 49 stops last season. Returnee Kenny Patton (6-0, 187), who compiled 56 tackles last season, and Turmarian Moreland (6-0, 194) are the likely starters at cornerback.

Kurt Milne serves as the team’s punter. The place-kicking job is up for grabs between several invited walk-ons.

NOTES: Former South Tahoe High running back/linebacker Kyle Jones planned to walk on at Hawaii. The Rainbows have several coaches with NFL playing or coaching experience. Jones coached ad played in the NFL, Glanville coached in the NFL and Mouse Davis, running backs coach, coached in the NFL. On the defensive side of the ball, secondary coach Rich Miano, a former Rainbow, played safety for Philadelphia, Atlanta and New York… The Rainbows get an early test when they host USC on Sept. 3 and then visit Michigan State the following week.