Rainbow Warriors earn a short break

University of Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald saw the light — and it felt weird.

“You’re sleeping in,” McDonald said of the Rainbow Warriors’ recent three-day break from practicing. “You’re seeing the sun in your room and you’re like, ‘Oh, man, am I late for practice?’ Then you realize, I don’t have practice.”

After playing on 11 consecutive Saturdays — a schedule in which they made five road trips and played in four time zones — the Warriors have a bye this weekend. The schedule was made more demanding because the Warriors played on Week Zero, forcing training camp to open a week earlier and condensing the offseason workouts.

UH coach Nick Rolovich did not conduct practices until Thursday afternoon.

“It was kind of a refresher,” McDonald said of the break. “We got to recharge our batteries, and get our bodies and minds right.”

Rolovich said there were several players ailing following the past week’s game against Utah State. After a 6-1 start, the Warriors lost four in a row. They are a victory away from clinching a winning 13-game regular season and accompanying berth in the Dec. 22 Hawaii Bowl.

“There would have been a bunch of guys who probably would have been questionable if we played Saturday,” Rolovich said. “Now, we’ll have a bunch of guys ready to go next Saturday.”

On Nov. 17, the Warriors will play UNLV on senior night at Aloha Stadium. They close the regular season with a road game against San Diego State on Nov. 24.

“I know this bye, for sure, is a blessing for us,” slotback John Ursua said. “We can use it to recap on how things are going, and regroup, and make sure our bodies are 100 percent.

We have a lot at stake (against UNLV) — the Pineapple Trophy, the bowl game. We have to take it one day at a time.”

In 2016, Rolovich’s first season as UH head coach, he asked his daughter to create a trophy for the rivalry against UNLV.

“They didn’t like the one my daughter made,” Rolovich said. “They’ve got the big Pineapple Trophy now.”

The Warriors’ 90-minute practice began Thursday night and finished under the lights at the Ching Athletic Complex field. The players went through several light-contact drills. Rolovich said the drills might intensify for this afternoon’s practice.

“It’s not really a bad time for a bye during a 13-game season,” Rolovich said. “They grinded through 11 of them. They took a break for a few days. They didn’t see each other. They’re happy to be back together.”

Several UH coaches spent the break evaluating prospects on the mainland. Of the coaches’ no-pause schedule, Rolovich said: “If they were good enough to be players still and they were young enough, they could have gotten a break.”

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