Hawaii Preview 2006 - Defense
Hawaii Warriors
Posted Aug 9, 2006

Hawaii Warriors Preview 2006 - Warrior Defense

What you need to know ... Hawaii's defense doesn't have to stop anyone cold, so if it can just not be miserable, the offense will take care of the rest. The 3-4 alignment will show off the athleticism of the back eight, but everyone has to be more physical. Defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville has more speed to work with and gets some help with the return of end Meilila Purcell and free safety Leonard Peters to 100% health after they each had problems last year. Stopping the run will be the first priority, but the pass defense also needs work after allowing over 250 yards per game.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Solomon Elimimian, 83
Sacks: Ikaika Alama-Francis, 5
Interceptions: Dane Porlas, 1

Star of the defense: Senior DE Melila Purcell
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior CB A.J. Martinez
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Adam Leonard
Best pro prospect: Purcell
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Purcell, 2) FS Leonard Peters, 3) LB Solomon Elimimian
Strength of the defense: Speed
Weakness of the defense:
Physical playmakers

Defensive Line
Stop the run, stop the run, stop the run. There's size among the front three, but it has to do a far better job at, you guessed it, stopping the run. The expected healthy return of Melila Purcell is a huge plus adding a playmaker in the 3-4 alignment, while veterans Ikaika Alama-Francis and Michael Lafaele have to be better. The backups are even bigger with the projected second team averages 310 pounds per man.
The key to the unit: After giving up 188 yards per game on the ground, the front three has to play up to its size.

Defensive Line Rating:

Projected Starters
- DE Melila Purcell. Sr. - 34 tackles, 1 sack, 1 broken up pass
The sky's the limit if he can stay healthy. Despite being bothered by a chest injury in 2004 and struggling through last year with concussion and elbow problems, he has still been one of the WAC's better ends. He's 6-5 and 266 pounds with tremendous pass rushing skills. If he's right, he'll be the leader of the defense and the difference maker the line so badly needed last year.

- NT Michael Lafaele, Jr. - 23 tackles, 5 TFL
The former offensive lineman spent last year as a starting tackle; now he'll be the anchor on the nose. At 6-0 and 306 pounds, he has the size to improve the running game and the experience to be a strong player to work around.

- DE Ikaika Alama-Francis, Sr. - 49 tackles, 5 sacks, 7.5 TFL, 2 broken up passes, 7 quarterback hurries
Alama-Francis bulked up in a big way in the last year and should be stronger against the run. He was one of the team's top pass rushers last season earning second-team All-WAC honors. He's a phenomenal athlete who's great at harassing quarterbacks and consistent at getting into the backfield. However in the 3-4, stopping the ground game will be just as big a priority.

Top Backups
- DE Fael Laeli, Soph. - 1 tackle
At 311 pounds, Laeli is a far bigger option on the left side than the 266-pound Melila Purcell. He's not nearly the player Purcell is, but he has the potential to be a big pass rusher along with adding more bulk to the run defense.
- NT Lawrence Wilson, Sr.
Wilson saw a little bit of time in four games after coming over from the JUCO ranks and now appears ready to be a bigger part of the rotation behind Michael Lafaele in the middle. He's a good athlete for his size.
- DE Keala Watson, Soph. - 7 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry
Watson saw a little bit of time after missing the entire 2004 season with a blood disorder. At 325 pounds, he needs to be a bigger part of the rotation to help out the run defense from the right side. He's big enough to play nose tackle if needed.

The linebacking corps loses two top playmakers in Kila Kamakawiwo'ole and Tanuvasa Moe, but there are several good players to build around in the 4-3. Solomon Elimimian is an all-star in the making on the inside, while speedy C.J. Allen Jones and Adam Leonard will make big plays after seeing a little more time. There's good size among the backups, but little experience.
The key to the unit: The four starting sophomores have to use their speed and athleticism to grow into their roles in the 3-4.
Linebacker Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- C.J. Allen-Jones, Soph.
The team's fastest linebacker missed all of last season, but now he'll be expected to become a top tackler on the weakside. He bulked up a little bit getting to 219 pounds and will be a sure tackler. His game is all about disrupting plays; he'll be a top pass rusher.

- Solomon Elimimian, Soph. - 83 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 TFL, 1 interception
With defensive back speed on the inside Buck position, the 224-pound Elimimian will look to build on a tremendous true freshman season when he finished second on the team in tackles. A great open field tackler, he'll be in the hunt for All-WAC honors on sheer numbers.

- Adam Leonard, Soph. - 9 tackles, 1 TFL
A great mix of size and speed, the 237-pound sophomore runs a 4.7 40. He spent most of his true freshman season on special teams, but now he'll be the main man in the middle where he'll be a fixture for the next three years.

- John Fonoti, Soph. - 7 tackles, 1 quarterback hurry
A rangy 6-3, 233-pound speedster, Fonoti will get the start on the strongside where he should be one of the team's top tacklers. He has the wheels to be used as a pass rusher like an extra defensive end, but he has to prove he can be a closer once he gets a bead on a quarterback.

Top Backups
- Timo Paepule, Jr. - 1 tackle
Able to play the middle or the Buck, the 246-pound junior is one of the team's bigger linebackers. He has seen a little bit of time, but not enough to assume he can step in for Solomon Elimimian and bring anywhere near the same production.
- Rustin Saole, Jr. - 8 tackles, 1 TFL
Mostly a special teamer, the 232-pound junior has seen a little bit of defensive work. He'll have to hold off a slew of newcomers for the backup job in the middle.

Defensive Backs
The secondary got picked apart a bit too much last year struggling to slow down anyone's air attack. The return of safety Leonard Peters from a knee injury should help, but it'll be up to three JUCO transfers to instantly upgrade the production. C.J. Hawthorne, Myron Newberry, and Chris Camacho will play big roles right away adding a flash of lightning to the cornerback spots.
The key to the unit: Allow fewer big plays. The UH secondary gave up close to eight yards per pass finishing near the bottom of the WAC in pass efficiency defense.
Secondary Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- CB A.J. Martinez, Jr.
An interesting prospect, Martinez didn't play a down of football from 2002 through the JUCO ranks up until last year when he was a special teamer. Now the versatile athlete, who was originally recruited by team's like USC and Oregon State coming out of high school, will take over on the left side.

- FS Leonard Peters, Sr. - 5 tackles
Back for what seems like his tenth year in the program, Peters has gotten an extra year of eligibility after suffering a knee injury last season in the season opener. He made a whopping 120 tackles in 2004 and should be an even bigger now that he's up to 199 pounds; 20 pounds heavier than he was two years ago.

- SS Brad Kalilimoku, Jr. - 71 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 quarterback hurries
A defensive back playing linebacker over his first two seasons, now the 204-pound junior will bring his toughness to strong safety. He was a star high school sprinter and showed last year how tough a tackler he can be. He'll have to show he can be consistent in pass coverage.

- CB C.J. Hawthorne, Jr.
A wide receiver at Mississippi Gulf Coast College last season, Hawthorne came to Hawaii this spring and moved his 4.4 speed over to corner. He's not big at 165 pounds and will need time, but he should make up for most of his problems with his tremendous speed.

Top Backups
- CB Myron Newberry, Jr.
The JUCO transfer will make an immediate impact this fall. If he won't be the fastest player on the team, he'll be close with 4.3 wheels and a great nose for the ball. He made 54 tackles, picked off four passes, and broke up 11 passes last year for Trinity Valley College in Texas.
- CB Chris Camacho, Jr.
The 5-10, 190-pound JUCO transfer is a tremendous tackler and has the 4.4 speed to step into a starting role right off the bat. He made 70 tackles, intercepted to passes, and forced three fumbles for Citrus College in California last year.
- Dane Porlas, Soph. - 16 tackles, 1 interception
Porlas might play a key role if Leonard Peters struggles at all after suffering a knee injury. He saw a little time on both special teams and on defense last season.

Special Teams
Placekicker Dan Kelly is fine with good range, but longtime punter Kurt Milne needs to find more blast. A.J. Martinez should provide a boost to the punt return game which suffered in a big way without Chad Owens, while Andre Taylor will be a solid kickoff returner again. The coverage units have to be far sharper.

The key to the unit:
What used to be a strength became a major weakness. Hawaii has to be better in all phases.
Special Teams Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- PK Dan Kelly, Soph. - 10-15 FGs, 42-45 FGs
Kelly had a nice year as a freshman showing off decent range from around 45 yards. He had a strong second half of the season and should make the kicking game a strength.
- P Kurt Milne, Sr. - 41 punts, 1,479 yds, 36.1 yards per kick, 8 inside the 20
The punting game needs a lot of help after finishing 114th in the nation netting 29.95 yards per kick. Milne has been around long enough to be steady, but he can't be steadily bad.

Related Stories
Hawaii Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 9, 2006
Hawaii Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 9, 2006
Hawaii Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 9, 2006

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