University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors Spring Football News, Notes & Observations — Week 4
BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED MAR 4, 2023
15 windy, rain-filled practices later and the foundation for UH’s 2023-24 football season has been laid.
Four weeks of practice saw 2nd-year head coach Timmy Chang and staff continue to implement the new (old, well new-old) Run-N-Shoot offense. Add some of the new recruits that the coaches were excited to add, and progress was being made all over the field throughout February and into the first week of March.
“Four weeks is never enough,” Chang chuckled after practice Friday. “You always wish you had more time with the guys. The rules are the rules but as much as we can, we want to cut down the learning curve.”
A consistent theme throughout practices this “spring” was the high-energy defense that could be heard from around the UH-Manoa campus.
“Logan [Taylor] has them riled up every single day, they’re always over there talking and it’s awesome because that’s what it is going to be like on Saturdays,” Hawai’i starting quarterback Brayden Schager said of the ‘Bows defense he went up against each day. “I think that they’ll intimidate other offenses by doing that, but I think we’re kind of accustomed to it now, so that’ll really help us.”
Taylor, the senior linebacker and vocal leader of the defense, was just one of many impressive Rainbow Warriors defensive players this February. Some other standouts included defensive backs JoJo Forest and Wyoming-transfer Cam Stone.
The defensive line also had some extra juice, something ‘Bows fans would love to see after UH finished last in the Mountain West. Throughout camp, the defensive line could be seen getting pressure against the ‘Bows offensive line and quarterbacks.
With so much attention on the offensive switch this offseason, the ‘Bows defense made sure to remind people that things will be different this year in Hawai’i.
When asked about the implementation of the new Run-N-Shoot offense, one word continued to come up.
“For me, I’ve got to trust that the receivers are going to be in the right spots at all times, they have the option to run a lot of things,” Schager said of the roles these reps would play. “It’s important to be on the same page and have faith in those guys that they’re going to go up and make plays for us.”
While the team began putting in the offensive concepts towards the end of the 2022-23 season, these four weeks were the true beginning of reshaping the Hawai’i offense. Last season, UH went into the fall without knowing who QB1 would be and without a true commitment to an offensive identity. That won’t be the case this time around.
“Hopefully [Schager] grows a little bit more comfortable,” Chang said of his hopes in having the junior take the majority of the first-team reps. “He’s got two guys behind him that you’ve seen make some good throws out here so that’s got to be reminded to him that you’ve got some good guys behind you. I want those guys to keep getting better and keep sharpening, and therefor pushing [Schager] to sharpen and get better.”
With Schager taking the first-team reps throughout camp, the quarterback was able to get a good look at many of the options that the ‘Bows will have at their disposal this season.
“I thought that Steven McBride and Jalen Walthall did a really good job at continuing to get better,” Schager responded to a question about standout spring players. “A lot of those receivers have done a really good job of just continuing to grow. I think that the whole receiver room as a group has gotten a lot better and you have Devin [Tauaefa] and Landon [Sims] and those tight ends doing a good job as well.”
As the team moves into the offseason, strength and conditioning will be most of the work for the ‘Bows, along with some PRP’s (Player-Run Practices) before UH re-groups ahead of their 13-game schedule.
Walk-On to Rock On, Koali Nishigaya
Coach Chang and the staff surprised sophomore wide receiver Koali Nishigaya on Thursday, awarding the one-time walk-on from St. Louis School on O’ahu with a scholarship in front of teammates.
“Well deserving,” Chang said of Nishigaya. “Koali was one of the better recruits coming out of Hawai’i and he walked on to the program. In his first year I saw him catching touchdowns at San Jose State, adding value right away to a team.”
“That kid is well-deserving, and I think anyone in that locker room will say that [Nishigaya] is deserving,” Chang continued.
The scholarship came as a complete, albeit wonderful, surprise for the O’ahu native.
“I was caught off guard, I mean I was not expecting it at all,” Nishigaya said. “Like I said, I’m just blessed and I’m thankful for the coaches believing in me.”
The 5’7 speedster will add value again this season for the ‘Bows, as he continues to improve and learn the tendencies of the collegiate game. In a new offense for UH, Nishigaya finds himself in a familiar scheme.
“It’s crazy how things work sometimes, you know? Everything truly happens for a reason, I really truly believed that [switching to the Run-N-Shoot] happened for a reason,” Nishigaya said of the offense he grew familiar with in his time developing in high school.
The Saint Louis School graduate is a good example of perseverance, continuing to work hard and pushing to the point of coaches having to notice him. In the end, it earned him the scholarship he desired all along.
Hawai’i Football: Who’s on the 2024 schedule & how does it look? BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 29, 2024HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i football program, in conjunction with the Mountain West Conference, revealed the 2024 football...
Hawai’i grabs home revenge, holds off Long Beach State for important Big West win BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 24, 2024HONOLULU – Play your best ball at the best time, they say. The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team continued...
Phillips’ career-high pushes first-place Hawai’i by Long Beach State, 80-68 BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 24, 2024LONG BEACH, CA – Daejah doing Daejah things. The Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine kept sole possession atop the Big West Saturday...
PacWest Power: HPU’s 20 hits hand Sharks conference-opening win over Chaminade BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 23, 2024WAIPAHU – The Hawai’i Pacific Sharks baseball team continued the program’s best start to a year since the 2016 season on...
"Beeman’s Big Bash" smashing success as Hawai’i beats UCSB in front of record-setting crowd BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 17, 2024HONOLULU – Laura Beeman said earlier in the week that she hadn’t allowed herself to...
Hawai’i drops season-opening 13-inning marathon against Ole Miss, 5-4 BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 16, 2024HONOLULU - Todd Gurley walked out to the mound with a big smile on his face, taking in the beauty of Mānoa’s...
Hawai’i keeps cool, downs Cal Poly late to keep atop Big West standings BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 15, 2024HONOLULU — Poise pays off. The Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine returned home Thursday night after a rough road...
Five-run third inning powers Hawai'i Pacific over Saint Martin's, 5-3 BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRNPUBLISHED FEB 15, 2024WAIPAHU — The Sharks keep rolling. Hawai’i Pacific did all of its scoring in the bottom of the third inning...
Leilehua snaps 36-year title drought, stuns Mililani late in OIA Division I Boys’ Basketball championship
Leilehua snaps 36-year title drought, stuns Mililani late in OIA Division I Boys’ Basketball championship BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 14, 2024HONOLULU — Long time coming. The Leilehua Mules won the program’s...
Kaimuki roars back from huge halftime deficit, takes down ‘Aiea for OIA Division II Boys’ crown BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULUPUBLISHED FEB 14, 2024HONOLULU — The Kaimuki Bulldogs flipped the second-half script Wednesday night at McKinley High School,...