Rain or shine — and the heavy money has been on rain — spring football training will open this week, with the first official practiced schedule for Wednesday morning.
• The blind side: With Austin Hansen appealing for full reinstatement from an NCAA suspension — he is on scholarship and allowed to practice — the majority of work at left tackle will go to Clayton Laurel, who will be a senior in the fall. He has the skill to play back-side tackle, but not the good fortune. He suffered season-altering injuries (broken wrist, broken leg) the past two years.
• Teeing it up: The past two years, Scott Enos was instructed to squib kickoffs or place them in the rectangle between the sideline and near numbers. The kick-return average was lowered, but not necessarily the opening field position. Expect the Warriors to try to boom away on kickoffs. One consideration is for punter Alex Dunnachie to be used for kickoffs. With Enos’ departure, the placekickers are Tyler Haddon and Kyle Niiro. At least one walk-on kicker will be added for training camp in August.
• Negotiations. Eventually UH will have to address a contract extension for Greg McMackin, who is entering the fourth year of a five-year deal. It will be a key to recruiting as well as the security of the assistant coaches, whose renewable one-year contracts are tied to McMackin’s deal. Of more immediate concern is that basketball coach Dana Takahara-Dias will be entering the final year of a three-year deal. And UH still needs to finalize “cost-sharing” deals with the Mountain West and Big West conferences.
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The past weekend, volleyball fans were able to get a preview of the big picture.
The bottom of the scoreboard usually is about 30 feet above the Stan Sheriff Center court. For this weekend’s volleyball matches, the scoreboard was lowered to 26 feet — the expected height for the new scoreboard that will be installed this summer. (The Mountain Pacific Sports Federation sets the minimum “ceiling” height at 23 feet. And, for the record, the ball struck the scoreboard four times in the weekend’s two matches.)
UH is prepared to put out requests for bids. The winning company will have to follow the specs — a full screen for each of the four sides (the current screen is comprised of smaller sectioned screens, like the Brady Bunch opening scene), and angled to minimize glare from the arena’s spotlights. The current scoreboard is set at 8-degree angle; the specs call for a 15-degree angle.
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Happy birthday to Cathy Suzuki, and to former UH basketball legend Phil Lott.