Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stamp of Approval To Go On American Haka

It's the haka, but not as we know it.

As the All Blacks international fame grows, an American college football team has taken to performing a whooping, crowing, hybridised version of the team's haka Ka Mate before games.

Ka Mate guardians Ngati Toa said they have no problem with the team using the haka – but they could do with a bit of discipline and technique.

The San Mateo Bulldogs American Football team has posted footage of its pre-match haka on its Facebook page and it is clearly based on Ka Mate.

The players stand in a circle whooping and jumping during the routine which then breaks into part of another haka, possibly Ngati Kahungunu's Tika Tonu, at the end.

"You can't fault their enthusiasm," said Teariki Wi Neera, who is on Ngati Toa's Ka Mate sub-committee.
But he said their rendition was a bit like "a bad Coke ad".

"We're incredibly proud of Ka Mate and we prefer to see it done properly."

Wi Neera said Ngati Toa would be happy to provide some instruction, an offer Bulldogs assistant coach Tim Tulloch said his players would be "ecstatic" to receive.

Tulloch said the players started performing haka before their games in 2009 and that year the team won the Northern California championships.

"I think it catapulted us to that championship. There's not a game since we have been doing this that we have not been ready for battle."

The team performs the haka in the dressing room as performing it on the field is a "decorum violation". Two decorum violations see a team suspended from the competition.

Tulloch said San Mateo, just south of San Francisco, had a large Polynesian population and one of the players on the team, Samoan Lyman Faoliu, had selected the haka they wanted to perform.

Faoliu had taught the team about the haka's history and significance but some input from a real Maori tribe would be "amazing", Tulloch said. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New York Jets Add Martin Tevaseu to Active Roster

The Jets have signed defensive tackle Martin Tevaseu to the active roster.

The UNLV product was activated for the AFC Championship Game last season and played well in the snaps he got. He also started over Kenrick Ellis in preseason when Sione Pouha was hurt. This move probably makes it less likely you will see Ellis on Monday.

The move is timely since the Jets are facing a backup quarterback getting his first start of the year Monday.

I like Tevaseu. He has played pretty well in that Playoff game last year and then in stretches of preseason ball. This coaching staff seems to do very well drilling consistent technique into defensive linemen. The undrafted player could potentially work himself into the equation as part of the rotation if he plays well.

This might also send a message to the defensive line as the Jets have given up big rushing days two of the last three times out. It could also have to do with a knee injury Ropati Pitoitua is allegedly nursing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pride Pushes Te'o To Greatness

He's more than just a big man on campus.

Manti Te'o is Notre Dame's Big Kahuna.

The junior Irish linebacker is the most popular export from paradise since pineapples and the Elvis Presley Classic, "Blue Hawaii."

Here on the mainland, or any other land, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Te'o is special.

He's a tackling machine, fueled by skill and precision. Every stop is a clinic, heavy on fundamentals.

Te'o is so good, Notre Dame football fans might be tempted to take him for granted. Opposing offenses certainly won't.

If he's not making 21 tackles, like he did last season against Stanford, Te'o's efforts risk being considered pedestrian.

In last week's win over Purdue, Te'o had eight tackles. Hardly eye-popping. But with three tackles for loss, including a sack, his performance caught the attention of head coach Brian Kelly.

"He might have had his best game against Purdue," Kelly said. "He was very detailed. He's never a guy we worry about in terms of how he's going to play. Sometimes he tries to do too much. I thought that was his most disciplined game.

"He can recognize things before they happen. That's film study. The really great players have that."

Te'o had somewhat of a challenge going into the Purdue game. Coaches didn't hesitate to remind him that last year's season-opener against Purdue may have been his worst game.

"We talked about (how bad he played against Purdue last year)," said Irish defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Bob Diaco. "He had a lot of opportunity for production that didn't happen."

"I obviously understand what kind of game I had last year," Te'o said. "It wasn't the kind of game I want to have. I was just looking to get better, make sure it didn't happen again."

While cutting his teeth as a big-time contributor within the Notre Dame defense last year, Te'o dealt with growing pains. Consistency suffered. One time he'd lay the wood. The next, he'd whiff.

"We identified liabilities in every single player," Diaco said. "The players that are really at the top of their game, it's easy to just overlook them and focus on ...

"(Te'o) had things in his scheme that he needed to clean up. In the offseason, I made a cut-up of plays of just him and gave him an opportunity to watch it. It made a pretty big impact on him. From that moment, he's made a concerted effort, not only to do the things that we're working on, but he takes a lot of time and focuses on his liabilities - angles, foot action, transition from speed to power. He's basically eradicated that from his game."

"That cut-up (Diaco) made, showed me the mistakes I made," Te'o said. "It started from my angles. I got to see what happened. When you look at it like that, you can visualize, analyze and correct it. My dad (Brian) helped me a lot, reminding me of basic tackling fundamentals.

"I'm still trying to find a balance (in tackling). I'm trying to knock somebody out every time I hit them. I'm learning, when I'm in space and it's open-field tackling, it's not necessarily smart to try to take somebody's head off.

"If there's an opportunity to take somebody out, I'll take advantage of that. If it's open-field and I need to get the guy down, I'll get the guy down."