Chemistry is one of Daronte’ Jones‘ primary concerns in the secondary.
The departures of John Hardy-Tuliau and Charles Clay from last year’s group of defensive backs left a leadership void. Jones, the Hawaii secondary coach since 2012 under Norm Chow, is hoping his most experienced returnees can step up in that regard.
“Still growing, still growing (as a unit). We’re a long ways away,” Jones said after Friday’s afternoon practice. “You know, but that will come as the season goes on as we continue to mature as a group and come together as a group, and know that they’re all interconnected. I think for the most part they’re a pretty tight-knit group. Worked all summer with each other, which worked towards that (chemistry). That interconnection is going to help … as we try to have a wonderful season this year. That togetherness, and all being accountable for one another, will help and show on the football field (for us to) make some plays.”
Cornerbacks Ne’Quan Phillips and Dee Maggitt already have a pretty good rapport. Marrell Jackson started eight games at safety and sophomore Trayvon Henderson is a strong candidate to fill the gap left by Hardy-Tuliau.
There’s several youngsters competing behind them for what could become top backup roles or appearances in dime packages.
“Me, Dee Maggitt, Marrell and Trayvon, (we’ll) just show them the way, because we have playing experience and all that,” Phillips said.
Jones said most of the same principles for the corners and safeties still apply in the 3-4 base defense which UH switched to in the spring. Previously, the Rainbow Warriors employed a 4-3.
Jones carries himself with a no-nonsense vibe which extends to his coaching style.
“Basically Coach Jones wants us to be professional about the way we go about things,” Phillips said. “Also, he’s teaching us every day about how to become a man and all that, and about how football and all this relate to life experience and all that. … I take a lot of what Coach Jones say to heart, because he speaks a lot of knowledge.”