Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Clune wanted to keep the Rainbow Warriors “hungry” in the months leading up to fall camp.
While the players stayed involved in learning the new scheme following spring practice, Clune refrained from force feeding them the playbook over the summer.
“We wanted to not kill the guys with football stuff,” Clune said. “We wanted to give them little bits so they were always wanting more, and I feel they’ve got a better hunger. They’re not burned out.”
The Warriors got to satiate their taste for contact a bit more on Wednesday as the team went through its first practice in pads. The up-tick in contact was accompanied by the customary shouts of “stay up” at the end of plays.
“Every day the intensity has to get higher and we have to continue to practice safe, keeping guys off the ground,” Clune said. “More intense but more disciplined.”
As for the unit’s progress, Clune said the first practice in pads “was up and down.”
“The first couple of days have been outstanding,” Clune said. “Day 1, I was very happy with our level, we have to continue to take steps forward every single practice. Today, there were some steps forward and there were some that weren’t there, so we have to be more consistent on all levels.
“We have to bring it consistently every snap and do things the right way, right calls, the right checks, the right techniques, the right execution and the bottom line is we have to be a hustle team.”
In addition to running the defense, Clune works with the inside linebackers during position drills. Julian Gener has worked with the first unit in the early stages of camp while newcomer Simon Poti has seen extensive work with the top two units.
“He’s new so I want to throw him in there and get him the experiences the other guys had in spring,” Clune said of the 6-foot, 220-pound transfer from Fullerton College.
“I’m going to keep moving the groups around but where he fits in is still to be determined. There’s still competition in that group. We’re going to force a lot of situations on them.”