Warriors football: Hawaii O-line training now center of attention

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The redesign of the Hawaii football team’s offensive line begins with the interior.

With Eliki Tanuvasa completing his NCAA eligibility, the Rainbow Warriors are using spring training to create a depth chart at center.


Of also seeking a replacement for left tackle Josh Atkins, who transferred to Arizona State, run-game coordinator/offensive line coach Roman Sapolu is upbeat about the spring competition.

“We’ve been together going on year 3,” said Sapolu, who was among the first hires when Timmy Chang was named head coach in January 2022. “They know what I expect from them, and they know what to expect from me. That part has been good.”

Sergio Muasau, who started all 13 games at left guard last season, has taken the most first-team reps at center during the Warriors’ first four spring practices. Muasau played six games at center when Tanuvasa was injured in 2022.

Muasau did not allow a sack or commit a penalty as a center.

“I consider him in year 3 going in as a starter,” Sapolu said of Muasau. “He’s a veteran presence I need to step up into a leader. I think he’s trying to do that.”

Muasau’s jovial personality belies his diligence. “I find it hard to be mad when everything’s not bad,” Muasau said. “I have fun playing football. … There’s a little more responsibility (playing center). You have to know what everybody has to do. It’s good being able to come back to center and communicate with everyone.”

Ethan Spencer, a 2022 Saint Louis School graduate, and Maurice Ta’ala, who did not commit a penalty in 264 snaps as a guard last year, also practiced at center this past week.

Those three Warriors are shorter than the average height (6 feet 3 1/2) of a Mountain West center last season. Muasau is listed at 6 feet; Spencer and Ta’ala are 6-1. But Spencer said height is not a necessity in blocking.

“Against the taller D-linemen, I have to get my pad level underneath,” Spencer said. “They have length. I don’t have as much length. I’m not as tall as them. That’s where technique comes into play. It’s not always height or strength. It’s having the proper technique to get leverage.”

On the blind side, Kaena DeCambra has practiced as the No. 1 left tackle. In training camp last summer, DeCambra and Atkins, who had transferred from Houston, battled for the left tackle’s job.

The settlement was this: Atkins started at left tackle and DeCambra at right tackle for the season opener against Vanderbilt.

“Kaena is in there right now (at left tackle),” Sapolu said. “Kaena has experience there. He’s played games at tackle — left and right tackle — and at guard. He’ll get the first crack at it.”

James Milovale and Christian Perry, who joined UH this summer, also are competing at left tackle. While Muasau is playing center, Zhen Sotelo has practiced as the No. 1 left guard.

“He can be a real difference-maker for us if he stays on the right track,” Sapolu said of Sotelo. “He works his butt off every year. It’s now starting to come together. The light is switching on.”

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