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Wet weather doesn’t worry University of Hawaii football team

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By Stephen Tsai stsai@staradvertiser.com

Updated 12:21 a.m.

The weather outside appeared to be frightful. But to the Hawaii football players?
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The weather outside appeared to be frightful.

But to the Hawaii football players?

“Very delightful,” quarterback Cole McDonald said following Saturday’s 90-minute practice at Farrington High’s Skippa Diaz Stadium.

The Rainbow Warriors were forced to relocate because UH’s lower campus was reserved for the commencement ceremony. Head coach Nick Rolovich said practicing at Farrington was a “nice change-up.” Practicing in adverse weather conditions added more spice in advance of Tuesday’s SoFi Hawaii Bowl.

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For the first 40 minutes, it was a wet-and-wild adventure. The estimated 30-mph gusts made the palm trees resemble the “C” in the YMCA dance. Umbrellas became kites. Rolovich replaced his familiar fedora with a T-shirt wrapped on his head.

“It was good fun,” said punter Stan Gaudion, whose kicks were left to Mother Nature’s discretion. “It adds a new dimension. (Defensive end) Derek Thomas asked me what it was like punting in this weather. I said, ‘It’s like going against an O-lineman with four hands. It’s like a little extra.’”

Gaudion, who was born and reared in Australia, said he often played Australian rules football in similar conditions. “The weather was like that because we played in winter,” Gaudion said. “My dad used to tell me all the time, ‘The most skillful players play best in the wet.’ It’s good when it’s wet.”

McDonald said he had to gauge the conditions before passing, much like a golfer reading the greens.

“I’ve never practiced in winds as strong as this,” McDonald said. “It was really good to see what type of balls you can throw, what throws you have to work on … The wind was blowing so hard sideways I had to throw the ball 2 yards inside of the receiver for it to curve right to him. It was tough, especially when you have people rushing at you. It was fun practicing out here.”

Rolovich, who is a former UH quarterback, said: “Quarterbacks know how their ball spins. (McDonald’s passes) spin different than (Chevan Cordeiro’s passes). That’s why we threw into the wind. You’ve got to learn how to do it.”

Long-snapper Wyatt Tucker also had to adjust.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Tucker said of his snaps to the punters. “The balls are a little bit more slick, a little bit more wet. Other than that, it’s the same thing. The form stays the same. If you can’t get a spiral on it, just make sure it gets to the punter, and everything should be the same.”

Rolovich conceded the conditions were adverse for a UH practice. “The rest of the world would probably take (Hawaii’s weather) right now,” Rolovich said. “It gave our guys something new, a little adversity. We got in, got our job done, got out.”

Justice Augafa, a safety/returner, said he did not mind the strong winds and rain. After practice ended, Augafa took off his jersey and walked shirtless toward the buses.

“This is real football weather right here,” Augafa said. “I’ll be honest, a little bit of rain gives me more energy. This is beautiful weather to me.”

Augafa grew up in Anchorage, Alaska.

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