Rainbow Warrior football: 3-man weave

Hawaii quarterbacks Justin Uahinui (11), Cole McDonald (13) and Chevan Cordeiro (12) slung passes during spring practice passing drills. / Photo by Dennis Oda, Star-Advertiser

The Hawaii football team is running a three-man weave from the pocket this spring.

UH, which is about a third of the way through spring practices, is giving quarterbacks Cole McDonald, Chevan Cordeiro and Justin Uahinui all the work they could want as they sling ball after ball at receivers a few times a week.


McDonald (3,875 yards, 36 TD, 10 INT), who is a fourth-year junior in 2019, was the primary signal-caller in the Rainbow Warriors’ revamped run-and-shoot offense in 2018, helping the Rainbow Warriors to an 8-6 (5-3 Mountain West) record. But UH wouldn’t have gotten to the Hawaii Bowl without some timely heroics from the true freshman Cordeiro (384 yards, 6 TD, 2 INT), the Saint Louis alumnus whose limited appearances allowed him to maintain his freshman status going into 2019 thanks to a new NCAA rule.

Uahinui, a redshirt sophomore out of Farrington High, did not appear in a game in 2018. Instead, he helped run the scout team in practices.

Cordeiro is enjoying being part of the tight group, which is expected to expand to six players in the fall.

“It’s great,” he said. “Having a lot of reps, you can learn from your mistakes. You can get better with just the amount of reps you get.”

If the tight rotation weren’t enough, two of the three are often slinging balls simultaneously in UH’s two-huddle drills.

Coach Nick Rolovich estimated there are “550 or 560” thrown balls in any given practice, not including extra tosses the quarterbacks put up afterward (the three engaged in a barrel-toss competition at a distant trash can after Tuesday morning’s practice).

“You’re looking close to 200 reps a day of throws (per person),” Rolovich said. “And I’m sure there’s a few more throws in there. I like the spacing of the practices (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). I think that helps them. I think this is a mature group that takes care of their arm. They’re pretty honest if they have issues.” (To his point, Cordeiro separately said the three felt some initial arm fatigue and saw the athletic trainers about it, and are now used to the workload.)

“You’re seeing a lot of quality reps,” Rolovich continued. “Probably want to have four (QBs), so you can get more arms out there. But these guys are very dialed in, and they’re a group that understands that the best guy’s going to play. And they’re all getting better. I mean, (McDonald’s) having a pretty mistake-free camp. Chevan has that playmaker ability and has shown a lot higher command of the entire offense, and I think Justin is really appreciative of the reps because this is a kid who didn’t get many last year. Kind of (ran the) scout team. This is very important to him. He’s a good competitor and he’s a good teammate, so we’re glad to have all three.”

UH has half its QBs from its six rostered in 2018. Kolney Cassel, a graduate student last year, became an intern on the coaching staff. Freshman Jeremy Moussa, who had one touchdown toss in two games, transferred to San Bernardino Valley College. Larry Tuileta exhausted his football eligibility.

“It’s been able to help me really learn the plays and focus on them more,” Uahinui said. “Last year there was a lot of guys, so there was a little bit less reps, but this (spring) there’s only three of us, so it kind of opens more doors for everybody.”

The team is expected to add signees Boone Abbott (American Fork, Utah) and Zach Daniel (Houston, Texas) and walk-on Kamali‘i (Shawn) Akina (College of San Mateo).

Rolovich said six QBs for fall camp is “the plan right now.”

Dan Morrison, the former longtime UH quarterbacks coach who was most recently coaching that position with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2018, observed McDonald, Cordeiro and Uahinui from the sidelines at Cooke Field on Tuesday.

Morrison said it was fairly common to have three QBs in the spring (and as many as five) during his 17 years coaching college ball.

“They’re going to get further along because of it,” he said. “You just gotta be careful in the spring so that you don’t bang them up. Which they do with quarterbacks anyway; that’s why they’re wearing those orange shirts. But it can benefit them because of the reps they’re going to get and the amount of time they’re going to get in the film room specific to what they’re doing, not just watching another quarterback and saying ‘OK, he did this,’ and try to learn from that.”

Asked his impressions of the group, Morrison — who worked with Jeremiah Masoli, Bryant Moniz and Johnny Manziel in Hamilton — offered some praise.

“Those three are all getting better because of the circumstances they’re in right now,” Morrison said. “They’re all getting more accurate and they’re making faster decisions. Their eyes are getting better. And that again is partly because they’re getting all the reps.

“That is tantamount to success for them.”


  1. H-Man April 9, 2019 7:03 pm

    Let the best QB start. It’s so key to success in the RnS (modified).

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