With no spring football and a quick turnaround in fall camp, it’s been a crash course for the Rainbow Warriors special teams. But according to special teams coordinator Dan Phillips, the unit has been up to the task.
“It’s very important that we have very reliable special teams,” Phillips says. “We want be aggressive, take advantage of other teams’ flaws, and execute what we do. We have a smart, bright group who are learning at a rapid pace. We’re stacking it on them and they’re handling it well.”
|Stan Gaudion||P||6-3||210||Sr.||39.1 yards per punt|
|Wyatt Tucker||LS||5-10||215||Jr.||15 starts|
|Name||Pos||Ht||Wt||Cl||Hometown (Last School)|
|Adam Stack||PK/P||6-2||180||Jr.||Kailua, O’ahu (Oregon)|
|Ben Falck||PK/P||6-6||220||So.||Riverside, Calif. (San Bernardino Valley College)|
|Ka’eo Rezentes||PK||6-2||180||Fr.||Kapa’a, Kaua’i (Kamehameha Schools)|
|Matthew Shipley||PK||6-1||175||Fr.||Liberty Hill, Texas (Liberty Hill HS)|
The Kicking Battle: UH will need to replace placekicker Ryan Meskell, who graduated after three years with the Rainbow Warriors. Four newcomers are in contention for the job. The top candidates for the spot are prep standout Matthew Shipley and Oregon transfer Adam Stack. Shipley, out of Liberty Hill, Texas, was ranked as the No. 7 kicker nationally by Chris Sailer and was invited to the 2020 All-American Bowl. Stack, meanwhile, brings both versatility and veteran leadership. The Kailua native served as both a placekicker and punter for the nationally-ranked Ducks for two seasons before returning home. “It’s competitive,” Phillips says. “We don’t have a starter yet so they’re competing every day for that job. We’ll see how it shakes it out.”
Stan The Man: Aussie Stan Gaudion is back for his fifth and final season as the incumbent punter. The Melbourne native has averaged 41.1 yards per punt for his career and has just two touchbacks in 129 career attempts. “It’s great to have Stan back,” Phillips notes. “He has a very powerful, explosive leg.” UH increased its depth at punter with the addition of Stack and junior college transfer Ben Falck.
Mr. Reliable: Wyatt Tucker returns for his second season as the team’s long snapper. Last year he made good on all 123 of his snaps. “Wyatt is a great snapper,” Phillips sayd. “He can spin the ball and is very accurate in what he does. He takes great pride in it.” Defensive lineman Kamuela Borden, who’s older brother Noah was a four-year long-snapper for the Rainbow Warriors, can also fill in at the position if called upon.
Good Returns: UH boasts a pair of fleet-footed return specialists who have the capability to score every time they touch the ball. Lincoln Victor averaged 22.5 yards on kick returns as a true freshman last year. The dynamic Melquise Stovall received both kickoffs and punts in five games last year, including a 65-yard kick return in UH’s win over Oregon State. “Those guys are explosive and are one step away from making it into the endzone,” Phillips says. “We’re expecting them to be very disciplined with the football, but they’re also fearless. They can make three yards into 30 really quick.”
Number To Know: UH has one of the longest streaks in the country at 143 games without allowing a blocked punt. The Rainbow Warriors last had a punt blocked against Notre Dame in in the 2008 Hawai’i Bowl.