so I'll do it for him.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!
Thanks to all you readers for being fans of UH. Hope this year is a good one for all our Hawaii teams as well as to all of you too.
Word we’re getting is that C.J. Hawthorne did a great job on the Buffalo Bills practice squad this year, and they want him back next season. With his speed, versatility and sincere team-first attitude, don’t be surprised if he makes the team next year as a special teams player and backup at either receiver or cornerback.Stephen Tsai writes about the generosity of Colt Brennan. Colt also talked to Ryan O'Halloran of the Redskins 360 blog about what he expects going into next season.
Although Jim Zorn seems to be inclined to bring back Todd Collins as Campbell's back up, Brennan will get another good look in the preseason. "I think I established myself as far as my position on this team," Colt said. "I think I did some good things with the scout team and basically, I think people respect what I was able to do. I’m interested to see what I can offer in the future."And Tsai wrote that Dane Uperesa has retired from football.
Uperesa said he chased the pro dream but, in the end, decided, “I’d be happier trying to live life in the real world.”
Uperesa’s fiancee is in dental school at Creighton University in Omaha.
He has moved to Nebraska, and plans to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
“I wanted it to be a decision made completely by myself,” Uperesa said. “Football was always a way to get things I wanted. I got a great education (at UH), and I had the best five years of my life (there). I met some great people. I had a ton of fun. Now it’s over. I’m ready to move on. I’m very happy.”
Athletic director Jim Donovan, who late yesterday sent out an in-house e-mail about "belt tightening" to staff and coaches, said, "Our (income) numbers have softened up from about Nov. 1st on and we're looking at ways we can achieve some savings."
Donovan stressed he is not considering cutting any of the 19 sports UH operates, aid to athletes or coaches' positions. "When it comes down to it, we're here for the student-athlete," Donovan said. "Making cuts in those areas can have a detrimental impact for years to come."
Much of the slide in ticket sales came "in the second half of the (football and women's volleyball seasons)," Donovan said. "The two rainy football games really hit us hard. I knew the economy was impacting us when we were playing the 13th-ranked team in the country (Cincinnati) on a sunny day, had just clinched a bowl berth and only (35,309) showed up."Ferd then writes how the athletic department is reducing concession prices to make it a little more affordable to attend games.
In addition, stock-based endowments have taken "major hits" and contributions have slowed, Donovan said.
Beginning with Saturday's Western Athletic Conference men's basketball opener against Boise State, 105 of the 110 items sold at UH athletic events at the Stan Sheriff Center, Les Murakami Stadium and Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium will be cut from 10 to 20 percent, according to UH officials. Food items will be reduced by 20 percent and alcohol by 10 percent.
Donovan said the impetus for the changes came from his family's experience at a men's volleyball match in March, his first week on the job. Donovan, who had been away from UH for five years, said he was surprised at the $80 tab to take a family of four to the match.
Since then he has set about repricing tickets and looking at other ways to, in his words, "make our events more fan- and family-friendly. We want to make it so fans can go to our events without feeling the hurt in their wallets," Donovan said.
Approximately 3 million households saw Notre Dame blow out the University of Hawai'i, 49-21, in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Christmas Eve, record viewership for the seven-year-old game.Yay.
The bowl's owner, ESPN Regional Television, operates six bowl games and the Hawai'i Bowl viewership was the highest in the history of those bowls, according to David A. K. Matlin, executive director of the Hawai'i Bowl.
The game, thanks to the first appearance by storied Notre Dame, did a 3.03 rating live and, combined with the replay, a 3.70, equating to 2,974,000 households for the live showing and 3,636,000 households for the replay.
"It came out of the blue," said Nielsen, who admitted the idea of going to play in the game was a "no-brainer" as he has orally committed to the University of Hawaii and plans to sign a national letter-of-intent on Feb. 4.
Even though his Hawaii-Polynesia all-star team lost to the Mainland all-stars, 22-8, it was a very pleasurable venture.
"It was the best time I had in my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything," he said. "It was a blast."
Nielsen, who has been promised a chance to win the starting QB job when he reports to school over the summer, did his best to give Hawaii fans a preview of things to come.
"I wanted to show them what to expect of me next year and for the years to come," he said.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he also expects defensive end Travis LaBoy to play. LaBoy missed the past two games because of an ankle injury.Pisa Tinoisamoa, who finished the season as the Rams' top tackler with 135, spoke out in support of retaining Jim Haslett as head coach.
"I think he understands what is going on," Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "He has been here for a while, so he understands the issues, he understands the personnel. I don't think we're that far off, and he knows that. I think the benefit of having him here is that he knows what to do, he knows how to attack the problems, whereas if somebody else comes in, they're going to have to go through the same growing pains that Linehan went through."Stephen Tsai had a short interview with Davone Bess yesterday. Here's an excerpt:
How are you feeling?Speaking of Samson, EMQB.com is taking questions for a New Year's Day interview they're doing with him.
“It feels great, man. Words can’t describe it. Knowing how hard we worked … it’s just a great feeling. I’m happy for Chad (Pennington, the quarterback). The Jets kicked him to the curb.”
How’s Samson (Satele, the former UH center)?
“He was so excited. He was going around the locker room yelling, ‘Chee-hoo! Chee-hoo!’”
"My offseason goals are to find offseason goals," Brennan said, before following the rest of the Cooley crew out the door. "You can use that," he added, since I kept asking them whether I could use their comments. "You can use the fact that I said you can use that," he added, which was too meta even for me.And this is where Redskins head coach Jim Zorn stands regarding the QB situation heading into the offseason.
Near the end of today's season-ending press conference, Jim Zorn committed to keeping Jason Campbell as the team's starting quarterback going in to next season.
Zorn also mentioned bringing back Todd Collins and Colt Brennan (who's having knee surgery) back, and working with all three of them during the summer.
Zorn also reiterrated that he doesn't see Brennan unseating Campbell.
David Veikune was selected for his utmost character, intelligence, and of course great athletic skills. The Veikune family is originally from Alaska. After a couple of moves, they moved to Hawai`i when David was a junior in high school. David graduated from Campbell High School and was recruited by the University of ColoradoThe article is accompanied by lots of photos from the ceremony.
. David returned to Hawai`i in 2006 and began playing for the Warriors. On his experience attending a mainland school then coming back home, David said, “Beautiful campuses and facilities cannot compare to playing in front of your family and friends at Aloha Stadium…”
Twenty-five years ago, assistant coach Rich Ellerson was in the living room of Ken Niumatalolo's La'ie home, selling him on a football scholarship to the University of Hawai'i.
For three years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they coached together at UH.
A couple of years ago, they were in Niumatalolo's Annapolis, Md., front room comparing notes on offenses and defenses, demonstrating techniques.
Now they'll step way beyond living rooms and decades-long friendship, going head-to-head for recruits and ultimately, come November, standing on opposing sidelines as head coaches in college football's grandest rivalry, the Army-Navy game.
Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Colt Brennan suffered a slight tear to the meniscus in his left knee and will undergo surgery. A sixth round pick in the 2008 draft, Brennan first experienced discomfort in his knee about two months ago in practice, and an MRI revealed the extent of the injury.Davone Bess had six catches for 39 yards, and returned two punts for an average of 12 yards as the Dolphins made the playoffs by beating the Jets. The Herald Dispatch has a photo gallery from the game, which includes shots of Bess and Samson Satele.
“It isn’t really painful, it’s just a nagging pain,” Brennan said. “I’ve been practicing with it and was moving around fine, but after speaking with doctors, they said it would be a quick fix; it’s just a slight tear.”
The expected recovery time for Brennan is three weeks.
“It’s fun and a great feeling to have the last practice, but it also sucks that it’s over,” said Sopoaga. “I’m looking forward to next year and having a longer season. I know I can’t wait to get back on the practice field and work for that.”Ikaika Alama-Francis had one solo tackle as the Lions finished their season 0-16.
UH linebacker Solomon Elimimian has signed with agent Wynn Silberman of the Morgan Advisory Group. He joins snapper Jake Ingram, who signed with Silberman last Thursday. … Silberman said it won’t be a problem if Elimimian doesn’t play in an all-star game because of his body of work over four years at UH.
"I'm going to take about a week to evaluate the season and make some decisions and go from there," McMackin said before departing yesterday for Las Vegas, where he and his wife, Heather, own a home.Geez. The defense will also have to replace nine starters. Let's hope Blaze comes out blazin' and healthy next season. Also looking forward to what Paipai Falemalu, Alema Tachibana, Geordon Hanohano, Haku Correa and the rest of the redshirt, grayshirt and incoming players can do. And another key to next year:
Two days after the season-ending loss to Notre Dame in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, McMackin had already identified two areas of emphasis for next season -- sacks and penalties.
Hawaii quarterbacks were dropped for losses an NCAA-record 59 times. The Warriors also tied a school record with 122 penalties and broke the UH mark with 1,097 yards in infractions.
The Warriors will have to replace all of their specialists in kicker Dan Kelly, punter Tim Grasso and long snapper Jake Ingram.The Star-Bulletin has a look back at 2008, which includes short game summaries, final statistics and Dave Reardon's five key plays of the season.
Hope you liked that transition season, Hawaii football fans.Speaking of those who are leaving, Reardon writes that Ryan Mouton and David Veikune have signed with an agent.
You've got another one coming up.
Technically, every year's a rebuilding year. But this is going to be a doozy, more of one than the just completed 7-7 campaign.
The Warriors lost a lot more than the Hawaii Bowl the other day. They lost 35 seniors -- most of whom were in three bowl games and were on teams that went a combined 23-4 in 2006 and 2007. Many played major roles in the greatest two-year run in UH football history.
That's more than one-third of your team, 35 seniors.
Agent Kenny Zuckerman, who has an excellent track record with Hawaii football players including Olin Kreutz and Davone Bess, has signed Ryan Mouton and David Veikune. Both will train at Athletes Performance Institute in Carson, Calif., at the Home Depot Center where UH does its annual pro day.And Stephen Tsai writes about Alex Gerke leaving UH.
Alex Gerke, who helped coach the offensive line and the running backs for the University of Hawaii this past season, will leave to take an assistant coaching position at Utah State.
UH head coach Greg McMackin said he will not fill Gerke's position until after the recruiting season in February.UPDATE: Here's Jason Kaneshiro's story about it, while Dave Reardon writes that this was in the works for a couple weeks.
We were told last night that UH running backs coach Alex Gerke was on his way out of Manoa for a few weeks, and that yesterday he was at Utah State formalizing his hiring there. It had nothing to do with the loss to Notre Dame.
Tinoisamoa leads the Rams with 131 tackles, marking the first time in three years that he's reached the century mark in tackles.Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch also writes about Tinoisamoa's re-emergence.
Tinoisamoa was the Rams' top tackler his first three seasons in the NFL, averaging 133 tackles per season from 2003 through 2005.
Then injuries cut into his playing time and effectiveness in the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
"It is very gratifying because I kind of felt like I raised the bar early on, and then I kind of feel underneath it the last few years," Tinoisamoa said of returning to his old form. "To get back to where the bar was already set, and to basically jump over it these days, is a great feeling. I'm happy to be still playing after these past couple of years."
He dedicated his offseason to improving his well-being by eating better and working out harder. Already a bit undersized at 6 feet 1 and 240 pounds, he thought he'd add some bulk in the process.Davone Bess is mentioned in a Dolphins-Jets preview by Scout.com.
"The funny thing is that I ended up losing weight," said Tinoisamoa, who is now at 220 pounds. "So maybe it wasn't that I needed to put on more weight as much as I needed to get in shape. I'm a lot lighter and it's probably not ideal for a linebacker. But I'm comfortable, I'm healthy, and I think that's all that really matters."
WR Davone Bess has also become a major component to Miami's offense since that Jets loss in September. He has 48 catches for 515 yards and averages 10.7 yards-per-catch. His style has been compared favorably with top slot receivers such as Wes Welker and former Jet Wayne Chrebet. Bess is the second-most prolific undrafted rookie receiver in NFL history, behind Chrebet's 66 catches.And he's among the "The Starting 11" in this NFL weekend preview from USA Today.
Rookie watch: Davone Bess. A season-ending knee injury to the team's leading receiver, Greg Camarillo, thrust the undrafted wideout from Hawaii into the starting lineup. Bess has started the past five games, and produced 29 of his 48 catches during that span. Among AFC rookie receivers, only Denver's Eddie Royal (80 receptions) has been more productive than Bess, who was groomed in a pro-style scheme in college. Given Miami's creativity with its Wildcat formation, there seems to be potential for Bess' role to expand. He played some quarterback at Skyline High in Oakland.Travis LaBoy is listed as doubtful for Arizona's game vs the Seahawks.
Cal Poly's Rich Ellerson was hired as Army's football coach Friday, joining a team that hasn't had a winning record since 1996. Ellerson is a former University of Hawai'i player and assistant coach, and the second UH alum to become head coach at a U.S. service academy.So what's the coaching situation like at Air Force?
Ken Niumatalolo, a Radford High and UH graduate, recently completed his first year as head coach at Navy.
Jake Ingram signed with agent Wynn Silberman of the Morgan Advisory Group, which is based in Santa Clara, Calif.MAG represents quite a few pro football players, but its most well-known client may be Kerri Walsh.”It’s a great year,” Silberman said. “We got the No. 1 beach volleyball player in the world and the No. 1 long snapper in college football.”Nice. Reardon is also looking for readers' thoughts on how the team can improve next season.
"We'll take a look at the film and see what we did (against Notre Dame), every game you play is a good learning experience," junior quarterback Greg Alexander said. "Saying that, our offensive output was just unacceptable. We're going to look at it and hopefully learn from it. It was just one of those games."
"Just have to train harder and come back strong next year," said sophomore running back/slotback Kealoha Pilares. "We have a lot of good people coming back, so we just have to build on this year and just get better."Stephen Tsai writes about the sacks.
"Right now, we've got a lot of work to do," said McMackin, who was 7-7 in his first season as UH head coach. "We've got to eliminate sacks. We can't give up that many sacks."Mack also talks about rebuilding the secondary, going into spring with Greg Alexander as the #1 QB, and Inoke Funaki moving to running back. Let's hope we see some Wild Inoke formations in '09! Tsai writes about Warriors training for the pros:
The Warriors relinquished 59 sacks, more than any other NCAA Division I-A team has allowed in a season in the recorded history of the sport.
They were sacked 18 times in the final three games.
Asked if reorganization would be part of the solution, McMackin said: "I have to do some more thinking about that."
Linebacker Adam Leonard will train in Tampa. Middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian also will train on the Mainland.Ferd Lewis writes about the work that needs to be done in the offseason.
Ingram, Mouton and defensive end David Veikune will rent a house in Carson, Calif., where they will train. UH's Pro Day is scheduled for early March in Carson.
Shake up the coaching staff, re-wire some of the offensive and defensive approaches, change the culture on penalties, you name it, there is much that needs to be done and there is little time to waste.
Greg Alexander alone was sacked 32 times, which is not only a school record but remarkable for someone who played only nine games, including seven starts.And Ferd writes that the PAC-10 may have a hard time providing a Hawaii Bowl representative once again.
Part of the problem is Alexander's footwork is slow, he takes time to release the ball and didn't chuck some away when he should have. Elements that can be worked on. And must be. But the overriding failure was an inability to give him time to do more than count "one Mississippi, two Mississ..." — and gulp.
While bowl officials say they are hopeful of pairing UH with a Pac-10 opponent in the 2009 game, "it will be a challenge," acknowledges David A. K. Matlin, executive director of the bowl.
The Hawai'i Bowl is scheduled to get the seventh pick of bowl-eligible Pac-10 teams, if the conference qualifies that many for the postseason. This year the Pac-10 was contracted to send its sixth to Hawai'i and seventh to the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego but only managed to field five that were bowl-eligible. The Pac-10 had eight bowl-eligible in 2006.
"When they (the Pac-10) went to round-robin scheduling it made it harder to get teams (bowl eligible)," Matlin said.
Asked which hurt more — the Warriors' disheartening 49-21 loss to Notre Dame in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl or saying farewell to each senior — McMackin, his eyes moistened with emotion, said: "Both."Much like previous years, UH had a record-breaking season:
"I love these guys, and I wanted them to go out with a win," he added. "It would have been really neat. But give credit to Notre Dame. They played a great game."
Against the constant pressure, Alexander had little time to wait for the deep routes to develop. He was sacked eight times, giving the Warriors the NCAA record for most sacks allowed in a season.D'oh.
The previous record of 58 was set by Notre Dame last year.
"It hurts even more, I feel, because this was our last game and we felt this was a bowl game we should have played better in," said senior linebacker Solomon Elimimian. "To know we can't take that back, we can't say, 'OK there's next year.' That's the part that hurts the most."There's also wrap-ups from BlueandGold.com, South Bend Tribune, and CFN.
It's not that Hawai'i senior receiver Aaron Bain isn't appreciative of the honor — he earned the losing-team recognition yesterday with eight receptions for 109 yards and a pair of touchdowns — but it's just not him.Billy Hull has more from Bain.
"I'd trade it in a second just to have another win on our belt," Bain said. "I'd sacrifice anything I could just for that win. I appreciate that award, but I really wanted to win this game for the seniors and for the state of Hawai'i.
"To me, any loss for the University of Hawaii and Warrior football is tough," Bain said. "I don't care who we lose to or if it's a bowl game or not, it's a disappointment because I know this team could be a great team."Stacy Kaneshiro and Nick Abramo write about Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate, who caught six passes for 177 yards and three TDs.
The only good thing here for Hawaii was that the tourism authority got its postcard. And too bad the schedule is full for the next few years -- UH would have no problem booking opponents that saw this.Ferd Lewis compares this loss to the Sugar Bowl loss.
Hawaii made Notre Dame look like ... well, Notre Dame. Not the passionless barely-Fighting Irish who didn't bother to show up for some games this year, losing to mighty foes like Syracuse. No, this was the old Notre Dame, the one of Heisman Trophy winners and national championships. The four- and five-star recruits finally displayed some synergy.
Give some credit to Notre Dame's smart game-planning of screens early to slow up UH's penchant for blitzing. It made the dangerous Clausen-to-Tate combination unstoppable.
The thumping in the Superdome was at least administered by a top 10 team that could have — and probably should have — been playing for the national championship.The Star-Bulletin has some news and notes on Jimmy Clausen's performance, Charlie Weis calling the game from the coaches' box, the Warriors' sack record, the Hawaii Bowl's attendance record, and Inoke Funaki's possible position change next season:
This one was at home, of all places, and inflicted by a 6-6 team that hadn't won a bowl game in an NCAA-record nine previous appearances dating to the 1993 season.
"Whatever (the coaches) want to me to do," Funaki said. "If they want me to fight it out (at quarterback) I'll do that. If they feel my athleticism can be utilized at another position, I'll do that. I'm open to suggestions come spring.Kalani Takase has some news and notes about the Fighting Irish.
"I was joking with the other quarterbacks that that was my last hurrah," Funaki said of the touchdown pass to Washington, his seventh TD pass of the season.
Thank you to the 2008 team and all of its Seniors!!!
Thank you for spilling your guts for us.
Thank you for waking up at the crack of dawn all those mornings to strap it on and string it up to practice play after play.
Thank you for your sacrifice to play for your teammates, for us, and the state of Hawaii.
No matter what people think with their opinions and judgements, you are the ones out there playing your butts off wearing the H on your helmet and jersey, against another team who is also practicing and playing with all their might.
Sometimes the ball bounces our way, sometimes it bounces theirs. Thats the game you play.
Thank you to your families for sharing your time with us.
Thank you to the coaches, staff and their families for giving all that they could day after day, night after night.
Jimmy Clausen set Notre Dame bowl records with 406 yards passing and five touchdowns to lead the Irish to their first postseason victory in 15 years, 49-21 over Hawaii on Wednesday night in the Hawaii Bowl.Here's a game summary from the Advertiser. UPDATE: The article has since been updated to include the AP article.
Golden Tate had six catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns, also Notre Dame bowl records, including a 69-yarder that sparked a 28-point outburst to help the Fighting Irish (7-6) ended their NCAA-record bowl losing steak at nine.
Greg Alexander completed 23 for 39 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked eight times.There's also wrap-ups from The Sports Network and WNDU.
Notre Dame received the greatest Christmas gift of all Wednesday night--- a bowl victory for the first time in 15 years.
Maybe it was the Hawaiian weather, playing on Christmas Eve, Charlie Weis calling plays from the press box or the names on the backs of their jerseys.
Whatever it was, Notre Dame should nail it down and duplicate the pattern in 2009, because it worked to perfection.
Attention UH football fans! Now you can receive free text message updates of all UH football games directly on your cell phone. If you can't be there or watch it on TV, you can still be in on all the action. Just text "optin oceanic uhfootball" to 32862 from your mobile phone. Then wherever you are, you'll get the updates on your phone and still be able to follow the Warriors!
The Warriors are hopeful that they have solved their pass-protection problems. They have allowed 49 sacks, including 10 in the past two games. They were unsuccessful even when they unveiled a double-tight-end formation.Pete Fiutak of CFN and Fox Sports
Hawaii will win if ... : it can protect Alexander. The Hawaii offensive line has been a disaster this season in all phases. John Estes is a special blocker, but he hasn't been able to do everything. The line is among the worst in the nation in pass protection and isn't good enough to blast away with the running game, but fortunately for the Warriors, Notre Dame doesn't do much in the backfield.Irish Eyes
Hawai’i has 34 sacks in 13 games and whether or not the Irish offensive line is able to hold up against the Warriors’ pressure could determine the game.The News-Sentinel
“The thing they do the best is rush the passer. You don’t have 30-plus sacks for a team if you’re not getting after the passer,” Weis said of Greg McMackin’s defensive unit. “He’s got a lot of fast guys and he lets them run to the ball.”
Beyond the bowl streak, the Irish are trying to avoid consecutive losing seasons for the first time since the mid-1980s and ease at least some of the heat off of coach Charlie Weis.Bleacher Report
Hawaii wins if...ESPN Insider
The Warriors can jump in front early against what has actually been a very solid Notre Dame defense. Hawaii is 7-1 when scoring 20 or more points, and if the Irish feel the pressure of playing from behind, all that negative bowl history and self-doubt will creep in.
Alexander and his deep receiving corps are more than capable of keeping Hawaii in this game. However, look for a deeper and slightly more talented Notre Dame team to get the win for embattled head coach Charlie Weis.The Journal Gazette
Daniel Libre leads Hawaii with 35.92 yards per game, but that could change against the Irish, who have been vulnerable against the run. Notre Dame has allowed 142.67 yards per game on the ground and are 112th in the country in tackles for loss, which is usually a barometer of how good a team is of stifling a running game before it starts.Blue and Gold
Whichever team can establish some semblance of a ground game and avoid the turnover plague will likely come out on top. The X-factor will be who wants it more. Hawaii wants to win this game, but Notre Dame really needs to – similar to the Michigan contest this year after a 3-9 season and barely surviving the opener against San Diego State. The Irish are backed into a corner again, and they traditionally have responded well in such situations.::::::
Like the Yankees in baseball or the Celtics in basketball, Notre Dame occupies a sphere of recognition that far exceeds the boundaries of collegiate football.Billy Hull
Touchdown Jesus, Rudy, The Four Horsemen, Knute Rockne and the slogan "Play Like a Champion."Stephen Tsai
Notre Dame and Hawai'i are polar football teams, as different as gold and lava.Dave Reardon
Today's Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl opponents are opposites in tradition.
Everyone says Notre Dame is the most tradition-rich college football program of all.Jason Kaneshiro, who recounts some memorable performances in Sheraton Hawaii Bowl history and writes about the game's origins.
That may be so.
Let's take a decidedly unscientific look at how Hawaii matches up in some of the legend and lore departments anyway.
Greg McMackin trudged toward the stage set up in the Aloha Stadium hospitality room, the angst clearly evidenced on his brow.Ferd Lewis writes that Notre Dame is giving UH chance, so UH gotta chance um.
Moments earlier he had watched San Jose State celebrate a 20-17 victory over Hawaii, the result of a mistake-riddled performance that dropped the Warriors to 1-3 a month into his first season as head coach.
He then made a vow before the assembled media, and those still tuned in to the pay-per-view telecast, that the Warriors would end the season in a bowl game.
"I remember ... saying that I believe in my players, I believe in my coaches and we're going to end up being in a bowl game," McMackin recalled. "I really believed that."
UH is appearing in its fifth Hawai'i Bowl and seventh postseason at Aloha Stadium and it could play in several times that many and not have the pre-Christmas present it unwraps today. Hawai'i is only the second of what we now consider non-Bowl Championship Series schools to get a postseason date with Notre Dame. The Warriors are the only team of any pedigree with six losses to get a bowl meeting with the Fighting Irish.Greg Couch of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that this game is a chance for Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen to begin living up to the hype.
And they get it here in front of the home crowd and a national cable audience with a buzz that transcends their accumulated records.
"Their secondary is good, to tell you the truth," Washington said. "(Scheme-wise), we haven't seen anything different — everything we've seen we've also seen against other teams. They've got nice safeties, good corners, nice speed. We have to run our routes and execute to the best of our ability.And Curtis Lum writes that this game is good for tourism.
"I think we match up quite well. In our scheme of offense, everything the defense does gives us an option. You've got to execute to the 'T,' though, because they have make-up speed if we beat 'em deep."
Here are a few questions that will help determine the outcome:The New York Times' Quad Blog has a game preview.
- Will Sam Young and others be able to handle the pass rush of David Veikune?
- Will the Irish gain 150 yards rushing, which is the average yield for Hawaii’s defense?
- Can Notre Dame pressure Alexander and force a lot of third down incompletions?
- Will the Irish win the battle of field position through good special teams play?
- Which struggling kicker will come through for his team?
- Which team can avoid devastating turnovers?
- Will Notre Dame play a full game with the intensity it has lacked against other less talented teams?
One of only a handful of F.B.S. teams to play 13 regular-season games in 2008, the Warriors may have showed more in their penultimate contest (a 29-24 loss to Big East champion Cincinnati) than they did in any of their seven victories. Hawaii took the Bearcats down to the wire, actually leading late in the fourth quarter before a late safety altered the momentum of the game. So while this 7-6 campaign (5-3 in the WAC) may pale in comparison to Hawaii’s magical 12-1 season of a year ago, there is reason to believe the Warriors are beginning to hit their stride at the right time.Olin Buchanan of Rivals.com takes a look at the matchups on offense, defense, special teams, coaching, etc.
The key to stopping Notre Dame will be two things. Stop the running game (which includes no big runs from scrmmage) and pressure on the QB. This team is the second most talented team we will play all season after Florida so don't let their record fool you! There are more high school All Americans on this team than you can imagine. Do they have speed? Yes! Do they have size? Yes! So why haven't they won more games? Tough question because it has nothing to do with talent. This is a mistake prone team and a "mess up at the wrong time" team which usually means there is a mentality on the team that probably expects something bad to happen. That being said for them to mess up early (fumble, penalities, interceptions) will be extremely important. If there offense scores often and early it will be tough for UH to come back.
At the end of his speech, UH head coach Greg McMackin said the Warriors had their own chant. He then flashed the shaka sign to defensive tackle Keala Watson, who led teammates in a rousing ha'a.WNDU has video from the banquet, but unfortunately no ha‘a. Instead:
"That was the best one we ever did," McMackin said.
At one point, Watson, who co-authored the UH ha'a, knocked over two chairs and a serving cart.
Some Warriors tossed kukui-nut lei into the air.
"Keala was a little intense," middle linebacker Solomon Elimimian said.
"It was a good thing there were no kids around," said safety Keao "Ao Boy" Monteilh, who co-authored the ha'a. "(Watson) might have thrown a table. ... It was good. We had 100-percent participation, which is rare. Even Malcolm did it."
The Warriors and Irish had a dance-off and chant-off during the Banquet.WSBT, another South Bend station, has video previewing the game and breaking down the Warriors.
It was wild.
Hawaii broke out in various songs and dances. The Irish, meanwhile, danced to Hawaii Five-O and then "Cranked it Up."
The Warriors may have had the last laugh as they chanted "Rudy" back at the Irish.
Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis will call the offensive plays against Hawaii in Wednesday's Hawaii Bowl instead of offensive coordinator Mike Haywood.Neil Hayes of the Southtown Star has a game preview and lists reason why this game is important for the future of Notre Dame.
"I'll be calling the game," Weis said during his first media availability Monday. "He's here. Don't worry. Coach Haywood and I are on the same page on this one."
Another lackluster performance would put a negative exclamation point on an already grisly late-season slide that turned a 4-1 start into a 6-6 derailment. A loss to the Warriors (7-6) would make it even more difficult to imagine Weis winning the nine games next season that it likely will take for him to keep his job.Jeff Carroll of the South Bend Tribune compares quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Greg Alexander. In the article, Adam Leonard talks up Clausen:
It's the last game of the 2008 season. It's the first game of the 2009 season. And it might be the most telling of Weis' four years at Notre Dame.
"Tebow's a physical specimen," Leonard said. "He's got a strong arm. He runs the ball well and he plays great in that system. But I would say as far as a pure quarterback — decision-making, looking off safeties and the arm strength — (Clausen) is unbelievable.Rivals.com has more gracious quotes from the Warriors.
"He's the only quarterback we've seen on film who from the opposite hash he can throw all the way to the other sideline. It jumps off the film when he throws."
"For us to play a team like Notre Dame that has a status around it is special," said Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander, who is from Santa Rose, Calif. "They're one of the better programs in the nation. So everyone is excited and can't wait to play Wednesday."Jason Kaneshiro has a game preview with stats, probable starting lineups, and this key matchup:
"It is special [to play Notre Dame]," said slot receiver Michael Washington, who is from Aliquippa, Pa. "Notre Dame always has athletes. They get the U.S. Army All-Americans. They have tremendous alumni, movies, Heisman trophies ... They've got so much prestige.
"So to have them come to the island and to play against a team like that is awesome. ... I'm excited to play against a team like that."
Hawaii DE David Veikune vs. N.D. OT Sam YoungAnd hopefully I didn't embarrass myself or anybody else too much as I answer five questions from Her Loyal Sons, an excellent, in-depth Notre Dame blog. Be there!
Facing Young represents one of the biggest challenges Veikune has had this season.
How big? Try 6-foot-8, 330-pounds big.
"He's a big man and moves his feet well," UH defensive line coach Dave Aranda said. "He has a great reach, a good punch and very athletic. David is very aware of what he's going against."
Young has started the last 37 games for the Irish, anchoring a line in which 6-foot-4, 302-pound center Dan Wenger is considered the small one.
Hawaii's quarterbacks have been sacked 49 times in 13 games, and most of the time, it's been Greg Alexander, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior who started the season opener against Florida as well as the final six regular-season games.
"They gave up 49 of them I think," Notre Dame sophomore linebacker Brian Smith said. "That's one thing we've been focusing on: creating space within our lines so we can get to the quarterback."According to Jeff Carroll of the South Bend Tribune, the Domers are "packing a sack lunch."
"They do give up a lot of sacks," said senior defensive tackle Pat Kuntz, who is the Irish co-leader in sacks (3.5) with outside linebacker Harrison Smith.
“That’s one big thing we’ve been focusing on,” said linebacker Brian Smith, who will return to the lineup after missing the regular season’s last two games with an injury. “You can bring different pressures without worrying, ‘We’re going to leave him out to dry or we’re going to leave him out to dry.’ We can come with a lot of pressures more comfortably.”Stephen Tsai talks to Warrior coaches and players about those sacks.
"I'm not happy with the number of (relinquished) sacks we've had this year," UH head coach Greg McMackin said. "In the offseason, that's going to be a deep project for us."
"Sacks come from a lot of things," McMackin said, listing "quarterbacks not getting the ball off, receivers running the wrong routes, trying to go deep when (the defense) is blitzing. It's not always on the offensive linemen. It can be one of 11 guys' problems. Everyone always puts it on the offensive line. I don't point fingers at anybody. It's the entire offense's problem. It will take them all to work together as a team."Tsai also writes about Notre Dame's kicking woes, Jayson Rego's key role on the punt team, and Tuiatua Tuiasosopo recovery from a staph-like infection.
After a little more prodding, Kuntz saved his biggest smile for when Hawaii's FBS-worst 49 sacks allowed were brought up.Hmmm, if I didn't know any better, I'd think Billy Hull was being a bit cheeky!
"They do give up a lot of sacks," he said. "I HAVE noticed that."
The 6-foot-3, 283-pound senior is licking his chops to get after Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander when the Fighting Irish (6-6) and the Warriors (7-6) face off in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve at 3 p.m.
"I'm sick of seeing us give up sacks," Estes said.Lou Somogyi of BlueandGold.com lists some top storylines for the UH vs Notre Dame matchup. They include 1.) Who wants it more? 2.) The QB quotient and 3.) Season of Giving, which discusses the propensity for turnovers by both teams. It also has one statistic which I was unaware of or had blocked from my memory:
"When we give up sacks it's usually not the guys just beating us, it's us beating ourselves. We just have to eliminate the mental mistakes and if a guy makes a play, he makes a play. You just go on to the next play. You can't dwell on the past because you can't do anything about it."
However, there is one other area of gift-getting where Notre Dame could benefit: Hawaii led the nation in penalties (114) and penalty yardage (1,028, or 79.08 per game) this year.Seriously? Well yes on the yardage per game, but looks like that TCU has us beat in penalties per game. Still, whether the refs are more prone to calling penalties on the Warriors or not, this may be another "deep project" for Coach Mack and the players to focus on in the offseason.
"It does have physical effects on you," said cornerback Terrail Lambert, blinking in the midday sun after an Aloha Stadium practice yesterday.Hah.
Wait a second -- this is the wrong place to moan even a little about the rigors of travel. Hold on while Greg McMackin and his team that plays you this week tune up the world's tiniest ukulele.
Notre Dame, Hawaii feels your plane -- and more.
The Warriors went back and forth to the mainland five times this season, including once all the way to Gainesville, Fla. That's twice as far in itself as any trip Notre Dame made before Friday.
Hawaii totaled 38,173 miles.
A Fighting Irish official said he thinks that with this trip, Notre Dame will have traveled more miles than any other continental college football team ("We don't even count Hawaii," he said).
"Considering this is the NFL, he might as well add lipstick and a handbag," said one person who begged to remain anonymous.And Pride of Hawaii Sports has a shirt and autographed picture for sale to coincide with "An Evening with Colt Brennan", a benefit for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Here's the official website for the event, which includes ticket info.
"It's not too typical for an NFL player to drive a Prius," said Eric Heitmann, a 6-foot-3, 312-pound center who drives an F-150. "Especially a tough linebacker like Jeff."
In a team parking lot last week, 16 of the 22 vehicles were mammoth sports-utility trucks or sleek foreign sports cars. Big men like big vehicles, and when Ulbrich rolled quietly into camp last summer, the razzing was more intense than an all-out blitz. His No. 1 abuser was linebacker Takeo Spikes, new to the team this year and now a friend.
"He thinks I'm a goober, a little nerd driving around in my Prius when he's got his fancy Range Rover over there," said Ulbrich, 31, smiling as he recalled the locker room banter.
Notre Dame reached its oceanside Waikiki hotel at 2 a.m., just as South Bend was waking up, and had to report to breakfast five hours later. No one seemed to mind.Jake Veyhl of Athlon Sports has a game preview.
"Back in South Bend it was snowing. Out here it's 80 degrees," quarterback Jimmy Clausen said with a wide grin.
Save for an embarrassing loss to Utah State, this season has been a success for Hawaii, which was unsure about its direction following the departure of Colt Brennan to the NFL and June Jones to SMU. Greg McMackin has done a fine job coaching this team to seven victories and Greg Alexander has shined at quarterback since taking over full time against Nevada eight games into the season.HawaiiAthletics.com has some excerpts from Friday's Hawaii Bowl press conference.
Notre Dame went through some basic offensive sets in the first of two closed practices this weekend. It was a must considering the Christmas Eve bowl game is now just three days away.Some guy named Manti Teʻo showed up to the practice.
Leonard will finish his Hawaii career against the Fighting Irish on Wednesday in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. After the clock hits zeroes, there will be much to reflect on.Stephen Tsai profiles Fighting Irish lineman Eric Olsen, writes about Notre Dame's flight to Hawaii and talks to UH players about the Hawaii Bowl gifts they received.
If not for a knee injury that ended a standout career at Rainier Beach High in Seattle prematurely and chased away some of the programs that had been pursuing him, Leonard might not have ended up in the islands in 2005.
Then there wouldn't have been those back-to-back seasons of triple-figure tackles as a Warrior, the Sugar Bowl experience, a WAC title and the lasting relationships with his teammates to savor.
"I'm so thankful for that," Leonard said of the fork in his path that led him to Hawaii. "God is good and he blessed me with this opportunity."
But yesterday, the Warriors received Oakley sunglasses, a visor, a custom backpack and ... a silk tie.Haha.
Still to come are an Aloha shirt and iKick 500 dock for an iPod or iPhone (retail value: $349.99).
While the swag bag drew a so-so rating from ESPN — "Aloha Means Goodbye" was the headline of an Internet story that tsk-tsk'd Notre Dame with "lose four out of your last five games and all this can be yours!" — the Warriors expressed polite gratitude.
"I have no complaints," offensive lineman Austin Hansen said. "The backpack looks like it's made with extreme high quality and fine workmanship."
You can't win a bowl game on the Vegas Strip or South Beach, but you can certainly lose one if too many players spend their evenings and early mornings working on the neon tan.
As the Hawaii Warriors know, the same is true on Kalakaua Avenue and Bourbon Street.
The UH upperclassmen have experienced both sides of this phenomenon. They beat Arizona State in the 2006 Hawaii Bowl with a decisive late rally. (Tired Sun Devils?). And they were blown out by Georgia at the Sugar Bowl when some key players forgot to bring their game with them from the French Quarter.
"It's been a learning experience," said Kelly, whose 332 points ranks third on UH's career scoring list. "With everything, whether good or bad, it's got to be a learning experience. I learned a lot, so I feel like it was a success."Stephen Tsai has news and notes about Greg McMackin skipping practice to attend today's graduation, Kealoha Pilares slowly recovering from his foot injury, Keoni Steinhoff cutting his hair, and Steele Jantz being a utility man.
Kelly provided two of the signature moments in UH's Sugar Bowl run in 2007 with last-second kicks against Louisiana Tech and Nevada, earning him the "Iceman" moniker.
Preparing for a holiday-season bowl means more practice days and fewer participants. With many players taking final exams, that created more opportunities for quarterback Steele Jantz.Kaneshiro has news and notes about Coach Mack's trust in his players, Hawaii Bowl ticket sales at over 40K, UH playing Wazzu in Seattle next year, and the JC mid-year transfers signing with UH.
The past week, Jantz has played running back and receiver, and served on the kickoff-coverage unit.
Jantz has been, well, steel-like. In a coverage drill, he floored linebacker Josh Rice. On another play, he ricocheted off would-be tackler Mana Lolotai. Yesterday, he made several graceful catches.
"I'm helping out because a lot of people left to take tests," Jantz said. "This was an opportunity to play. It's been cool."
According to a news release, UH and a Hawai‘i-based representative for June Jones jointly announced the “resolution of all issues involving the contract between UH and the former head coach.”Tsai has more details including statements from UH president David McClain and June. Pretty cool comments from JJ:
According to the release, “the resolution was accompanied by the receipt by the University of Hawai‘i Foundation of two donations to the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa totaling $200,010.”
"Hawai‘i is my home; therefore as I look beyond our past achievements in fooball, maintaining a healthy relationship with UH and sustaining productive contributions to our island communities will always be important to me. On Christmas Eve, beat Notre Dame.”Here's a link to the press release.
(Solomon Elimimian): Said the team learned a lesson from the Sugar Bowl. Kind of a young team. A lot of guys went out and partied. Now a lot more mature. A lot of guys not going out even though no curfew.
(Greg McMackin): Last game for a lot of seniors. 8-6 sounds a lot better than 7-7. He said it would be good to send the seniors out with a bowl win. It would be good as a set-up for next year and recruiting, but more as a completion of this season.
Watson has taken some lengthy strides during his five years in Manoa. He's overcome a rare blood disorder to take a leadership role on the Warrior defensive line, got married, and is looking forward to fatherhood as well as graduation.Kaneshiro has some news and notes, including Aaron Bain's ties to Notre Dame and Jake Santos' brother playing in the Aloha Bowl in 1993.
Nearly being forced to take another route early in his career heightened his appreciation for each step along the way to reaching this point.
"Every time I walk out here I do a prayer right there on that cement slab before I touch the grass," Watson said, pointing to the walkway leading to the entrance to the practice field.
"I'm thankful that I'm here and have an opportunity to play the game I love to play and go to school and better myself."
The Irish players have different motivations for wanting to end the streak.
"This truly is my last chance to leave a mark in the program, and also give those guys who are coming back something to build off of," said linebacker Maurice Crum, a fifth-year senior.
Safety David Bruton, part of coach Charlie Weis' first recruiting class when Weis was helping the New England Patriots prepare for the Super Bowl, believes it's a chance for him and his classmates to prove something after seeing the Irish go 9-15 the past two seasons.
"That would be a major accomplishment, especially since mine and David's (Grimes) class, 'the forgotten class' or 'the worst class in Notre Dame history.' But it would be great to say we broke that streak along with the fifth year seniors and start a new streak in itself."
"It would help with a lot of sleepless nights," said senior defensive end Pat Kuntz. "If we win, there will be a lot less regrets. And it would ease a lot of pain."Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune writes how important the Hawaii Bowl is to the Warriors.
"Slowly but surely, kind of in the darkness, we've been building up a program where we have good athletes who can play ball," Leonard said. "We just haven't had the opportunity to showcase that. That's why we have to take full advantage of the opportunities we have now— Christmas Eve, ESPN, against a program like Notre Dame."Christian McCollum of Irish Eyes writes about Notre Dame scouting the Warriors.
“They’re just a basic offense. They’re not as complex as they were when they had Colt Brennan there a year ago,” (linebacker Brian Smith) says. “They’ve got a new head coach and new offensive coordinator. They do kind of the same things like a Purdue and a Michigan mixed in one, so it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before. We’ll be ready.”
Expect Hawai’i to use the same defensive approach as Notre Dame’s second-half opponents and play Cover-2 and force the Irish to run the ball. But Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate is hoping that the return of Michael Floyd opposite him will make a difference.And the Fighting Irish are taking the biggest plane to ever fly out of South Bend to make the trip to Hawaii.
“They run a lot of Cover-2 and Cover-8,” says Tate. “I think it’s going to force them to try different things because we’ve got Michael on the other side.”
A Boeing 747-400 will fly into South Bend Regional Airport Friday afternoon.
275 passengers, including players, coaches staff and dignitaries will board.
The jumbo jet will be the largest and heaviest commercial aircraft ever to utilize the airport.
Watkins will enroll at Baylor for the spring semester in January. Butte's other four early signees on Wednesday — defensive back Lametrius Davis (Hawaii), Alex Green (Liberty), receiver Justin Hilton (Liberty) and kicker Augie Heath (Sacramento State) — will do the same at their respective schools. A verbal commitment made by defensive back Preston Pace with Louisville remained unofficial when he didn't sign a letter of intent.And it looks like JC corner Lee Aguirre will choose between BYU and UH today. Here's a SportsHawaii.com thread discussing it.