The University of Hawai’i football team capped its second spring ball under head coach Nick Rolovich with a controlled intrasquad scrimmage Thursday night under the lights of the Clarence T.C. Ching Complex. Several hundred fans watched the scrimmage, which was the last of 15 practices that spanned 31 days.
“I thought it was up-and-down, the defense came out with some great energy and made some plays, the offense responded towards the end, I’m sad its over,” head coach Nick Rolovich said.
The scrimmage included several big plays on both sides of the ball. Returning starting quarterback Dru Brown completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to receiver John Ursua during the 2:00 drill to cap off the 65+ play scrimmage. Brown also completed a 56-yard reception to Dylan Collie during his first offensive possession while Ursua later juked out several defenders in a spectacular 12-yard catch-and-run.
During red zone sessions, senior running back Ryan Tuiasoa ran for a pair of touchdowns while senior receivers Ammon Barker and Isaiah Bernard each caught TD passes along with junior tight end Metuisela ‘Unga. Sophomore quarterbacks Cole Brownholtz and redshirt freshman Cole McDonald took the majority of the reps during situational drills.
Senior safety Austin Gerard picked off a McDonald pass and returned it 50+ yards for the defense, who concluded their first spring under new coordinator Legi Suiaunoa. Last season, Suiaunoa coached the defensive line and was promoted to coordinator in February following the departure of Kevin Lempa.
The special teams saw their most extensive work during the scrimmage. With the loss Rigoberto Sanchez, the Warriors will start a new placekicker and punter this season. Redshirt sophomore Alex Trifonovitch converted a pair of field goals while Aussie punter Stan Gaudion also saw action.
UH began its spring ball with 54 lettermen and 15 starters from a team that won seven games including a win in the Hawai’i Bowl in 2016, Rolovich’s first as head coach. During the spring, the Warriors hosted the inaugural Football Family Festivus that attracted nearly 2,000 fans last Saturday to the Ching Complex and featured food trucks, a kid’s zone, scrimmage, and autograph session.
In keeping with Rolovich’s “Pride Rock” theme, the spring included numerous visits by Hawai’i football alumni including former NFL players Greg Salas, Kealoha Pilares, and James Fenderson, Canadian Football League great Chad Owens, and Arena Football League veteran Mike Washington.
The Warriors begin their off-season conditioning and lifting program before returning the practice field in late July for the start of fall camp. UH’s 2017 opener is at Massachusetts, Saturday, Aug. 26