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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Game Day: Hawaii at Louisiana Tech

A big test and very important game as the Warriors begin their WAC schedule today. Let's hope the offense can keep rolling and the defense gets a boost with the return of Fonoti and Paipai. Cannot wait!

The Sports Network has a game preview.

Here's Jason Kaneshiro's preview.

Stephen Tsai's preview has breakdowns of the offense, defense and specialists for both teams. Here's an excerpt about the UH receivers:
Salas has an astonishing yards-after-catch (YAC) average of 22.3. Bradley's YAC is 14.23. What's more, Bradley has a yards-after-hit (YAH) average of 8.64. Part of their success can be traced to Pilares, who has earned the nickname "Decoy" for drawing the extra defensive back away from the left-side receivers. In the four-wide offense, Pilares is the rat-a-tat jab that sets up the knockout punches by Bradley and Salas. Pilares is a sure-handed receiver who has caught a team-best 83.8 percent of the passes when he is the primary receiver. He also is a dangerous post-catch runner, averaging 0.84 broken tackles per reception.
Tsai writes about UH preparing for the worst.
The Warriors worked on worst-case scenarios, such as hurrying the field-goal unit onto the field.

They also choreographed returns after recovering fumbles. In one drill, 300-pound defensive tackle Rocky Savaiigaea took an option pitch.

The drills were amusing to the 100 or so middle-school students who attended yesterday's 45-minute workout at Trinity High in a Dallas suburb. But for the Warriors, they served a purpose.

"We have to be ready for everything," UH head coach Greg McMackin said. "We don't want any surprises."
Ferd Lewis writes about the importance of this game.
Get through this one, where they are 3 1/2-point underdogs on the Las Vegas betting line, and things will be looking up for the currently 2-1 Warriors, who return to Aloha Stadium next week for their first home game in 36 days.

But history tells us an opening loss in the eight-game conference schedule would be a severe, if not devastating, setback. In six of the past seven years a team has had to go unbeaten to win the WAC. In 2007, UH was one of them. And, only once in the last nine years has anybody taken the title with more than one loss.
Lewis writes about the potential recruiting benefits of the Warriors' stopover site.
The reason for the 34-hour stopover made more sense, however, when you saw where the Warriors practiced Monday and Tuesday: nearby Trinity (Texas) High School.

The Trojans, who won the Texas state large school championship in 2005 and '07, have a large Polynesian, mostly Tongan, enrollment, including some players with family ties in Hawai'i.

"We wanted to build a relationship here," UH head coach Greg McMackin said after yesterday's practice. "This is the biggest Polynesian school in Texas and it is right by the airport so you can fly in and get in and out easily."
While in Texas, Jason Kaneshiro caught up with June Jones.

Bobby Curran has a game preview.
“This is by far the best defensive front we’ve seen so far,” says offensive line coach Gordy Shaw. “We’ve gotten better each game and that has to be the case for this one.” Hawaii’s passing game is very good and could get better - only three receivers are really involved so far - and Greg Alexander has superb numbers, but he can improve his accuracy, particularly on long throws to speedy Rodney Bradley. What once looked like a certain loss now looks like a possible win, but only if Hawaii brings it’s A game.
Bob Hogue has been pleasantly surprised so far this season.
Compared to last year’s quarterback merry-go-round, conservative play-calling and overall uncertainty, this is very good news for fans!

Why is it happening, you ask? There are a few factors. One is maturity of the coaching staff. A year ago, despite their years spent in coaching, most of the coaches were in their first year in the position they had been elevated to. Anybody who has ever received a promotion knows that there’s a learning curve that goes on in your first few months on the job. The Hawaii coaching staff experienced that last year.
And finally, Bob Highfill of The Record profiles UH center John Estes.
Estes' work ethic, his ability to perform seamlessly at two positions - he was a guard his freshman season - under two head coaches and five different offensive line coaches, and his blocking skills especially in pass protection, have earned him the respect of his teamates and coaches.

Gordon Shaw, in his first season as the offensive line coach at Hawaii after spending 14 of the previous 15 years at Minnesota, said others on the team have followed their captain's lead.

"He's a very steadying force," Shaw said. "Younger players look at what he's achieved and they learn from that."

Estes has caught the attention of pro scouts, as well. Recently, 18 NFL teams had scouts at Hawaii's practices in Seattle prior to its game at Washington State, and 11 teams were represented two weeks ago before the UNLV game in Las Vegas.


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