Hawaii Warriors: Time for Greg McMackin to Step Out of June Jones's Shadow

Tobi WritesAnalyst INovember 1, 2009

I'll admit it.  I am a bigger fan of Greg McMackin than I am of June Jones.

I'd like to see McMackin make it in Hawaii.  I'd like to see him outpace Jones, but so far the results aren't there.

McMackin has made some admirable changes.  He seems to hold his players more accountable that Jones generally did.  When they travel to the mainland, McMackin dosen't just accept the jet lag.  He demands they suck it up and play hard, something that Jones rarely did.

He has also made some big mistakes. I personally think taking a salary that was almost 50% more than June Jones's last salary was a bad idea in that it put a target on him from day one.  

I know the university and the state felt pressure to prove they weren't cheap after Jones's scorched earth exit, but McMackin would have done far better to publically insist on a salary that was not a cent more than the 800K or so Jones earned in his last season until McMackin earned more with his performance. 

New Coaches need time more than up front money and a move like that might have given him a few more years cushion.  An additional 400K in the school recruiting budget wouldn't hurt a new coach either.

The slur against gays he used in reference to Notre Dame also earned him some enemies he didn't need.  I am sure he would love a redo on that moment as well.

Still, I am convinced he is a good hearted guy and a good coach. I'd like to see him step from June Jones' shadow at UH.

I think for him to do it, he has to break from Jones' blueprint.  He can't be a better June Jones than the former coach was at UH, so why try?


The slide

Since former record setting JUCO QB Greg Alexander went down, Hawaii has lost four straight vs. the best teams in the conference.

This may be disappointing, but it wasn't unexpected.

Fresno, Idaho, and Boise are the best teams in the conference and Hawaii always struggles in Nevada.

Now the Warriors are entering a much more manageable part of the schedule.

They host WAC cellar dwellers Utah State and New Mexico, make their shortest plane trip to play a San Jose State team that appears to have collapsed, host Navy and end with Wisconsin, two teams that will be suffering major jet lag.

As amazing as it is to say, 7-6 may still not be out of the question, but the coaching staff has to get the offense to develop an offensive identity.

They need to move even further away from June Jones' philosophy and run the ball.


The Warriors can run the ball and should

Consider the offensive numbers from the last 4 games.

10/10 Fresno State 2-3 (0-2) L 42-17 24/52 283 2/2 18 rushes 85 yards 4.7 per carry
10/17 @ Idaho 2-4 (0-3) L 35-23 31/45 367 1/1 24 rushes 77 yards 3.2 per carry
10/24 No. 4 Boise State 2-5 (0-4) L 54-9 27/47 174 1/3 18 rushes 93 yards 5.2 per carry
10/31 @ Nevada 2-6 (0-5) L 31-21 29/49 374 3/2 20 rushes 118 yards 5.9 per carry

UH is getting marginal QB play and is still calling the games like Greg Alexander is throwing the ball.

The Warriors are throwing 50 passes a game and running 20 times a game.

That needs to change. These QBs need much more support from the running game.

Jones never ran the ball.  To his credit McMackin does have his teams run a little.

He needs to do more of it.  A 40 pass to 30 run mix would serve Hawaii a lot better.

There is no reason why this Hawaii team shouldn't end this season with, say, 1,200 rushing yards.  They are currently on pace for 851 yards.

In spite of having a pipeline of big quality linemen, Jones never committed to running the ball with any regularity.  As a result, the Warrior's top end under Jones was always capped.

Jones is great at winning games vs. sub-BCS opposition.  McMackin's teams could have a higher upside than Jones's if they can run the ball as well as pass it.  If an opponent taking away the pass no longer causes a Warrior implosion, UH will be a tough play for schools at any level.

Hawaii has a decent pair of backs with reasonable size this year.  Leon Wright-Jackson and Alex Green are capable backs.

Use them.

Worth it for the recruiting dividend alone

Hawaii has always had trouble recruiting top runners. 

No top RB is going to want to play for a school that doesn't even break 1000 yards rushing as a team.  No Texas All-American RB is going to play for a school that rushes for 800 yards as a team in a season.  That needs to change.

The run and shoot should be just as good of a running set as any spread. It has been a great platform for top running backs at the highest level.

UH will never land a Barry Sanders if they only run for 800 yards as a team in a season.

Jones simply ignored the running game.  His intransigence with regards to running the ball cast a shadow over UH's running back recruiting efforts.

Hawaii should be an easy sell to top RBs.  Play in paradise.  Earn the starting job and you can run for 1000-1500 yards vs. 7 in th box on every down.  Go into the NFL with less wear on your body (from playing against smaller defensive players) than other backs.

It should be an easy sell, but because of Jones' passing myopia it is not.  Time to walk away from that.

For this year's success and for future recruiting, Hawaii has to run the ball.


Brent Rausch or Bryant Moniz?

And then there is the question of who should play QB.

Sophomore Moniz is a short mobile winner from the island. Moniz is not a train wreck as a starting QB.  He is serviceable and seems to get a little better each game, but is not currently what one would want from a starting QB in a pass heavy offense.

Junior Rausch was a three-star JUCO QB who had some playing time before Alexander claimed the starting job last year.  Rausch earned the backup job over the off-season before breaking his pinkie.  He is healthy now.

I suspect Rausch won't be worse than Moniz, so why not give him the Utah State game to make a claim on the job?

(I am not really advocating Rausch, more stating that there is little potential downside and possibly quite a large upside in giving him a half or even the full Utah State game.)

If Rausch has a dominant performance, the job is his and Moniz becomes his Tyler Graunke.

If Rausch is just average, then his shot is gone and the team goes with Moniz with his additional year of eligibility. 

If Rausch struggles and the game is close at the half, Moniz get the second half and the rest of the season.

Just don't stretch it out.


Next year

How great would it be to see an experienced senior dominated WR unit led by Kealoha Pilares, Rodney Bradley, Greg Salas, and Malcolm Lane team with an experienced, established QB AND a returning say 800-yard rusher in Sr. Alex Green?

Come on Coach McMackin. Step out of that shadow.


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