Q&A: Saint Louis QB coach Vince Passas

Longtime Saint Louis quarterbacks coach Vince Passas has been invited to coach at the prestigious Manning Passing Academy in July.

Passas and former Kaiser head coach Rich Miano are believed to be the first two Hawaii coaches ever invited to the event, which is held at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. This year’s camp is July 10-13.

Here’s a quick Q&A with Coach Passas.

Saint Louis assistant coach Vince Passas. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
Saint Louis assistant coach Vince Passas. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Hawaii Prep World: Congratulations on the invitation, Coach.

Coach Passas: It’s a real honor to learn from those guys. You can learn from experience more than anything. I always tell our guys to get better every day and this is my opportunity to get better.

HPW: How did this happen? Did you seek it out or were you nominated?

Coach Passas: The Oregon coach (director of football operations Jeff Hawkins) had called and asked if I’d be interested and he passed my name along. I got the invitation and I sent my bio.

HPW: How do you feel about going?

Coach Passas: I have mixed feelings. I’m just looking at it as a way to get better at teaching the positions. You can always get better with new teaching ways, new vocabulary, doing the same things with new words, applying it differently.

HPW: You mentioned mixed emotions.

Coach Passas: I’ll be away from the team for a little bit and we work out during the summer, some pass league games during that time. Traveling all the way over there, it’s pretty far away from where we’re at. It takes time away from us getting ready for our season, it’s a blessing and an honor, coaching with my two mentors, Cal Lee and Ron Lee.

HPW: Do you pay your own way?

Coach Passas: They pay you (for coaching) at the camp. It’s more the experience and the learning tools and just to be around those guys in meetings, to talk and soak in as much as I can to get better.

(Note (5/8): Clarifies info — Coach Passas will be paid to coach at the camp, but he will pay for his transportation. He added that Oregon (and former Saint Louis) quarterback Marcus Mariota will also be at the camp.)

HPW: To me, you are the quarterback guru, and with the NFL draft tomorrow, when I see clips of some passers who have or don’t have the fundamentals that I’ve heard you talk about, it gets interesting. I wonder what you think about Johnny Manziel.

Coach Passas: He’s pretty accurate. He does things you can’t teach, and he can throw under pressure. Excellent reads. I think he’ll do well in the pros. I had a chance to talk to (former Saint Louis and current Texas A&M wide receiver) Jeremy Tabuyo when he came back for spring break. I asked what kind of guy Manziel was, and he said, he’s a really nice guy.

HPW: Do you think NFL teams scheme offensively enough when they have a mobile quarterback?

Coach Passas: A pocket guy, you don’t have to account for the quarterback. A guy who runs a lot, you have to get out of bounds and not take the hit. He seems to be that type of quarterback.

HPW: What about Blake Bortels?

Coach Passas: He’s more the prototype of what they look for, a guy in the pocket, good size. That’s what people are looking for. Getting adjusted to the game, whoever makes the best adjustment, from college to the pros, that’s like 100 mph faster, guys are faster, bigger, they hit harder. For some quarterbacks, it takes time, sometimes years, to really develop.

HPW: Are you surprised that Marcus Mariota stayed in school?

Coach Passas: Gosh, whatever he does, he’ll be successful. It’s amazing. I probably would’ve came out (of college), but he knows better than I know. Making his mom and dad and family happy. He’s really genuine and we’re so proud that he’s from our family at Saint Louis. With all the blessings, hopefully, he’ll stay healthy and find ways to get better every day. The people in Oregon can appreciate him one more year. He could run for president of that town. After that, he’ll be just like an ordinary guy.

HPW: The outflow of talent to Las Vegas is mind-blowing. First, it was linebacker Nela Otukolo two years ago. Now it’s Haskell Garrett, who was a 6-4, 240-pound receiver/slotback/defensive lineman as a freshman on the JV team. That’s two losses for Saint Louis. Then there’s Isaac Slade-Matautia leaving Kaiser. All going to national powerhouse Bishop Gorman.

Coach Passas: Garrett is also a good basketball player. He’s a complete player who can handle the ball, shoot, rebound, and play big inside. Just real athletic and skilled. And then in football, to catch the ball in the open field and really outrun guys, oh my gosh. Three technique or even on the edge with his hand down, I don’t think anybody can stop him one-on-one. I’m sorry to see him go, but he did what he had to do for himself and his family. I haven’t seen a guy like him in a long time. He’s only going to get bigger and grow some more. Him and the Matautias of ‘Iolani and Kaiser. They’re cousins of Haskell.

Kahi Neves (of Kaiser) is going up. He gave me a hug at our camp. He said, “It’s my last Sunday with you.” He’s going to Bishop Gorman, too.

HPW: That’s another big loss for Kaiser. He’s a big guy (6-3, 225) with a strong arm and he’s only a sophomore.

Coach Passas: Yes, but they still have Justin (Uahinui). He left Saint Louis and now he’s at Kaiser. He throws the ball just as well as Kahi. He’s not as big. He’s going to be a sophomore. He was really sad to go. He played on the JV last year and came up (to the varsity) near the end. He’s been coming to our camp since eighth grade or so and has made steady improvement. And he works out with Chad Ikei, getting stronger.

Kahi is throwing the ball 60 yards out. These guys are all pretty close. Montana (Liana, Farrington quarterback) comes to the clinic. He’s been putting on some muscle.

HPW: Saint Louis has lots of talent, especially at quarterback with Ryder Kuhns returning as a senior this fall. But it seems like it’ll take time to build the kind of depth they had years ago, especially since freshmen aren’t allowed to play varsity football in the ILH.

Coach Passas: With Cal back, gosh, all the guys that he’s coached over the years, their kids are now starting high school. Our school has a tradition that no one else has. Our alumnus want our kids back instead of sitting in other people’s cheering sections. The timing for Coach Cal coming back is God-sent.


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