By JONATHAN BAGLEY
If you want to hear that everything will be OK with the University of Hawaii football program this year don’t expect to hear it from head coach Fred vonAppen.
Once a WAC contender in the early ’90s, the Rainbows all of a sudden found themselves playing the role of patsy in 1995. Play did not improve in 1996 for new coach vonAppen, who saw his team win two of 10 games.
“Last season was about as fun as your yearly visit to the proctologist.” vonAppen said.
Though vonAppen said his team will improve, he does not know how much. He said last season’s problems for the Rainbows began with their offense. He said the defense was on the field too long.
But they didn’t seem to mind Saturday, when they held Big 10 school Minnesota to three points, beating them by 14.
Part of last year’s problems lie in the Rainbows transition from the triple-option to the West-coast offense. The athletes recruited before the arrival of vonAppen were chosen for their ability to run the option. Forced to run a passing attack, vonAppen had this to say about his players performance: “Our passes were thrown like a placekicker kicks. Our wide receivers made catches like a soccer player heads the ball.”
The new quarterback, Tim Carey (6-4, 180 pounds), should throw more like a quarterback than a place kicker. Carey was highly sought after coming out of Los Alimitos high school in California, and he spent three years as a back-up at Stanford. Carey’s experience at Stanford will allow the Rainbows to feature a quarterback who is familiar with the West-coast offense.
Carey may be sidelined after an opposing lineman smashes him. vonAppen said this year’s offensive line worries him and last year’s line reminded him of revolving doors. The offensive linemen range from 6-1 to 6-4 in height, and 260 to 290 pounds in weight.
Should Carey fall to injury, Dan Robinson, 6-3, will replace him. Helping to ease both players into the offense will be new offensive coordinator Wally English. “Wall has mentored some of the best quarterbacks in the game,” vonAppen said.
Either quarterback will please vonAppen who “wanted to punt on second down last year.”
Hawaii’s opponents will do better to run than pass this year. Run up the middle. The line is small and quick, with the outside tackles at 255 pounds.
Some of the linebackers are equally slight for their position. Senior Brian Chapman is 240 pounds, but he competes for the starting position with 213 pound junior Rinda Brooks. The ‘Bows are wishing once Hawaii bound Spencer Reid had not kept flying to Provo from Samoa. Reid started the 1996 season at 260.
1996 First-Team All-WAC selection, Eddie Klaneski, returns to anchor the Rainbow defense at free safety.
“Eddie Klaneski is our best overall player,” vonAppen said.
The Rainbows are dedicating their season to deceased place-kicker Shannon Smith. Smith died saving the life of six-year-old Cody vonAppen, son of coach vonAppen. Smith drowned sliding down a natural waterslide in the mountains of Kauai.
Hawaii comes to Provo to battle BYU Oct. 18.