Shawley wrecks shop
Hawaii’s season-opening win over Colorado at Aloha Stadium got a little messy at times.
Replete with turnovers and close calls both ways, Thursday night’s 28-20 contest had more than its share of gut-wrenching moments — including a UH defensive stand in the final seconds when the Pac-12 visitors ran out of time in the red zone.
Just the kind of game defensive end Luke Shawley was made for.
“I tried, I tried (to be disruptive). I’m not a finesse guy, I’m a motor guy, so I’m just working out there,” the senior said after racking up 14 tackles, including 1.5 sacks of Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau. “All credit to the team and to the coaches. Anything I was able to do was only because other people were doing their jobs out there.”
Shawley, a former Navy SEAL who went the junior college route to get to UH, had 35 tackles in the entirety of his 2014 season at UH.
New defensive coordinator Tom Mason was understated in giving too much praise to any one player, but did credit Shawley.
“He played really well from what I could tell,” Mason said. “It’s hard to see, because I’m trying to watch everything, but I thought he played really well, our backup nose tackle (Kory Rasmussen), he did a really good job.
“A lot of individual performances I thought were pretty good. … We needed to get this win, get moving and get that first game over.”
Rasmussen, incidentally, is a former Colorado player; he attended school in Boulder for one year then transferred. Defensive back Nick Nelson added 11 tackles and three passes broken up in the win.
Shawley, who made his first career start, is grateful to have Mason on board.
“It was amazing, absolutely amazing,” he said of the new DC. “You know, what’s great about Coach Mason is that he knows how to put guys in key positions to succeed. He’s a great coach. I’ve had three or four coaches now in my short football career, and that’s a rare quality. Very thankful for him.”
Shawley graduated from high school in North Carolina way back in 2006, easily making him one of the oldest players on the team.
By halftime, when UH led 18-14, he made his presence felt. He already had 10 tackles at that point, including seven solo, a new career best.
“It’s gratifying, because I speak for everyone when I say we put in so much work,” Shawley said. “Worked so hard. These younger guys, they’re in there hours after practice watching film. This is an amazing way to start the season. It feels like everything we did was for a reason. It really paid off.”
UH held Colorado to three three-and-outs to start the game, which enabled the Rainbow Warriors to keep a narrow lead throughout.
Mason thought his group gave a solid performance, but he’ll be looking for more when they take on top-ranked Ohio State next week. He talked of getting “more assignment-perfect.”
“That’s part of growing,” he said. “Your biggest improvement comes from Game 1 to Game 2. Let’s go play Ohio State and see what happens.”
After the postgame interview, Shawley took stock of some bumps and bruises. He sat down against a wall in the bowels of Aloha Stadium and exhaled.
“Man, I’m getting old,” he said.
Defense and special teams won the game for the Warriors. People were concerned with the DL but they played solid football last night. Secondary was outstanding.
Luke is my cousin, He is awesome,