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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Game Day: Hawaii vs Wisconsin

Senior Night. Huge game with huge implications against a huge opponent with huge offensive linemen. GO WARRIORS!!!!!!

Win for Warriors means bowl berth, by Stephen Tsai
There is a lot at stake when the Warriors host 8-3 Wisconsin in tonight's regular-season finale.

Center John Estes will clinch the NCAA Division record for career starts when he plays in his 54th consecutive game.

Left slotback Greg Salas is six catches and 155 yards from setting the school's single-season record for receptions and receiving yards.

But, most important, a victory tonight means "we can keep playing football," UH linebacker Blaze Soares said.
Great quote by Soares, even if I don't know what it means:
Soares said: "You have to love the situation we're in. We win one game, we play our old coach (SMU's June Jones in the Hawai'i Bowl). The way our season started and the way we're trying to finish it, it's a very pleasing feeling. We have to take care of business. We want to go out there, scramble some eggs."
Warriors' defense has big task, by Stephen Tsai, has breakdowns of the offense, defense and specialists of both teams.

Hawaii seniors put it all on line, by Jason Kaneshiro
The (losing) streak could have shredded the team, but the Warriors' seniors kept it grinding into November. One win turned into four and suddenly UH hit December with a fourth straight postseason berth within sight.

"Right there they showed a lot of leadership, and that's probably what brought us back and kept us together," sophomore quarterback Bryant Moniz said. "We could have just folded and ended up a 2-10 team, but we stuck together and kept fighting and now we're on a roll."
Also, congrats to Inoke Funaki:
Senior Inoke Funaki is among 30 student-athletes who will participate in the NCAA Football Coaches Academy set for Jan. 10-12 in Orlando, Fla.

"Coaching is one of my career ambitions and I'm excited to be able to learn from the best in the collegiate coaching profession," Funaki said in a release.
Here's the release from HawaiiAthletics.com.

UH win would top off roller-coaster season, by Michael Tsai. In this excerpt, Rocky Savaiigaea talks about some of the more vocal fans who jumped off the bandwagon during the losing streak:
Still, Savaiigaea said, it was difficult not to notice the turn in public opinion.

"It really hurt," he said. "People were cheering us on when we were 2-0 and saying how they were loyal fans. But then we started losing a few and there was hardly anybody in the stands, everyone was calling for people to get fired, and people were saying that they had no faith in our team."

He credited his coach for taking the brunt of the criticism and for keeping the team together despite the emotional toll exacted by each fresh loss.

"The people who say 'fire him,' or put up these Web sites, they're not the ones waking up at 4:15 every morning and working hard to make us better," he said.
UH to face Wisconsin with bowl eligibility at stake, from the AP via the Maui News
''We're all in,'' said UH coach Greg McMackin. ''This is the point where they don't need a pep talk or anything. They know what's riding on it, and they're working hard. They know how to win. We have a very big challenge, but I believe our guys are up to it.''
Wisconsin Badgers Football: Hawaiian Style, by Jeff Robbins of Channel 3000 Sports
While it will surely be tempting for Bielema and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to let Scott Tolzien finish his at times inconsistent season with a flourish, the smartest offensive game plan will be to let simply let John Clay, Montee Ball, Zach Brown, and whoever else feels like getting into the backfield run the ball and keep Hawaii’s scary offense off the field. The strategy won’t shock anyone, but it should work.
A high-stakes hula dance, by Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and their clever headline writers
The stage is set for both teams and the stakes are high, certainly higher than it appeared they would be just a few weeks ago.

Hawaii enters its regular-season finale Saturday night (10:30 Milwaukee time, ESPN2) needing a victory over visiting Wisconsin to secure a berth in the Hawaii Bowl. The Warriors would face SMU, which, coincidentally, is coached by former Hawaii coach June Jones.

"They'll be playing for a bowl game," UW coach Bret Bielema acknowledged. "They'll be playing on Senior Day. It's a very emotional day and they'll have a lot riding on it."
Five things to watch, by Potrykus
One of the keys in the loss at Northwestern was UW's inability to get to quarterback Mike Kafka. Like Kafka, Hawaii's Moniz relies on three-step drops and gets the ball out quickly. UW's defensive linemen must get to the quarterback, but they'll need tighter coverage by the linebackers and secondary to make Moniz hold the ball longer than he'd like. Unlike Kafka, however, Moniz isn't hesitant to break the pocket and run for yardage quickly if he can't find an open receiver.
Wisconsin vs. Hawaii: 5 things to watch, by Tom Mulhern of Madison.com
UW ranks third in the Big Ten and 18th nationally on third downs, converting 46.7 percent. A big part of that is staying in manageable down-and-distance situations. The goal is four yards on first down, which has happened 168 times. That has resulted in 147 first downs (87.5 percent). Gaining at least four yards on first down makes the offense go.
Wisconsin vs. Hawaii: Who has the edge?, by Mulhern
The closing act of the Badgers’ regular season is a bit tougher than it looked a month ago when Hawaii was 2-6. The Warriors are known for three things: a dynamic passing offense, winning games at the end of the season and defending their home turf with all the passion they can muster.

The Badgers have two big edges: their running game and the fact that Hawaii is tied for 105th in turnover margin. Clay will attempt to reprise big games at Aloha Stadium by former UW tailbacks Ron Dayne, Michael Bennett and Brian Calhoun.
Oates: Finale now the most important game of the year, by Tom Oates of Madison.com
A matchup that seemed neither difficult nor significant is now both for the Badgers, who need a win to keep their hopes for the Outback Bowl alive and will have to get it against a team that has a four-game winning streak and needs a victory to become bowl-eligible. Oh, and the Warriors throw the ball as well as any team in the country, a strength that hits UW in its most vulnerable spot.

"They're playing well now and there's motivation," UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. "You're fooling yourself if you don't expect the best (from them), regardless of circumstances."


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