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Rolovich says he will continue to choose offensive plays

Updated: 
November 9, 2017 - 12:05am

Head coach Nick Rolovich said he expects to call the offensive plays for the Hawaii football team’s three remaining regular-season games.

The Rainbow Warriors have been down a full-time coach since Chris Naeole resigned as offensive line coach in the week leading to the Oct. 7 road game against Nevada. Since then, offensive coordinator Brian Smith and graduate assistant John Estes have been coaching the offensive linemen.

In seven of the Warriors’ nine games, Smith called the offensive plays from the coaches’ booth. Rolovich called the plays against Nevada and last weekend against UNLV.

“I just felt we were down a coach, and I had to up my role in the offense,” Rolovich said. “And (play-calling) was a place where I could help. We’re thin. Brian and John have to deal with all the guys up front, all the pressure looks, all that stuff. I think (the coaching shortage) affected everyone’s preparation.”

Rolovich and Smith are former UH teammates and housemates. Against UNLV, they returned to a familiar arrangement where Smith sends information from the booth to Rolovich on the sideline. Rolovich called the UH plays for three years after he was promoted to offensive coordinator under Greg McMackin in 2009. Rolovich was Nevada’s offensive coordinator for four years.

Smith often chairs the meetings when the offensive staff collaborates on a game plan. “I can’t do everything I used to do as a coordinator with this (head coaching) job,” Rolovich said. “(Smith is) able to put a lot of it together. There’s good conversation on game day with all the coaches.”

The Warriors rushed six times and were sacked twice on the opening play of their first eight games. Against UNLV, the Warriors opened with an incompletion from Dru Brown to Keelan Ewaliko on a deep route. After reviewing videos and scouting reports, Rolovich said of that play, “we thought we had an opportunity to take a shot. I told the guys we were going to do it on the first play, and this is what’s going to happen. It’s too bad we weren’t able to fully make the play execute.”

But later, Brown threw 20 yards to Dylan Collie for a touchdown. “That was the offensive staff drawing up that concept,” Rolovich said. “And we got the right defense, and it was a great throw. A great throw and a great catch.”

Rolovich said it was fun to watch the play go from brain-storming session to an in-game success. “There are enough (times) when it doesn’t (work out),” Rolovich said. “It’s much more enjoyable when it works.”

Rolovich is one of the few play-callers who prefers working from field level.

“I’ve almost always called from the sideline,” Rolovich said. “It was easier when we were a 10 personnel (one back, no tight end) run-and-shoot. When you get into personnel groups, there’s a lot more things to look at in the (tackle) box that are a little bit harder to see from the field. But that’s why there are guys in the (coaches’ booth), and that’s why those conversations need to be clean and crisp and effective.”

Brown said he appreciates Rolovich’s increased involvement.

“The more you’re around someone, the more you’re going to know someone,” Brown said. “We just happen to be around each other a lot on the football field. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from him so we’re on the same page in the game.”

As a former quarterback, Rolovich often demonstrates techniques by throwing passes in practices. “I kind of like that about him,” Brown said. “He’s still got that competitiveness about him. He still kind of talks (trash) to us QBs. It’s kind of fun to have that even though he’s getting up in age.”

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