Thursday, September 9, 1999
Panthers are here
and to win
Eastern Illinois' players and
coaches hope to enjoy their trip to
paradise, but they know the best
way to do that is to win
NotebookBy Paul Arnett
Eastern Illinois didn't arrive at the Michael Jackson gate as Southern California did a week ago.
There wasn't a charter bus waiting on the tarmac to take the Panthers straight to Aloha Stadium as the Trojans had arranged moments after their touchdown.
Make no mistake that veteran head coach Bob Spoo is here to win a football game, first and foremost. But unlike USC, it won't be all business and no pleasure for his Eastern Illinois team.
"It's a combination plate of business and pleasure," Spoo said. "But I want the kids to understand that we're here to win a football game, so they've got to take that into account.
"I think we'll do that. We've got them regulated pretty much as to where we're going and what they're doing. But they'll have some free time to enjoy this wonderful opportunity."
Eastern Illinois didn't have a lot of time to promote this game. Unlike major Division I opponents who schedule years in advance, the Panthers were a replacement for Toledo.
"We first committed to the idea late last year, but we didn't sign anything until the spring," Spoo said. "Still, we were able to tell our recruits we'd be coming to paradise. That didn't hurt."
If Spoo has his way, the young guys will see plenty of playing time on the field. In last week's loss to Central Michigan, Spoo played 52 of the 58 players he took to Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
On this trip, he brought 60. And he plans to play as many as possible in Saturday's nonconference game with Hawaii.
"We want to play a bunch of them, including our true freshmen," said Spoo, who helped former Rainbow player and current Arizona offensive coordinator Dino Babers. He was a Panthers assistant in 1987-88.
"The reason we want to play as many as we can is because later on in the year when we get into our conference (the Ohio Valley) I think it's going to pay off," Spoo said. "At least I hope so."
Eastern Illinois is an established collegiate program that is celebrating its 100th year of existence. In 1978, the Panthers won the Division I-AA national championship by knocking off Delaware, 10-9.
Denver Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Panthers. That year, the former Panthers quarterback helped set 25 Eastern Illinois records.
Among the school's top football players is Burl Ives. The folk singer played both ways on the 1928 team that finished 7-0-1. Ives is quoted in the media guide as saying, "When bigger holes are made, he'll make them."
Spoo isn't sure he has any future singers on his current team. But the 13-year head coach does have some up-and-coming talent, including redshirt freshman running back J.R. Taylor and cornerback Obinno Coley.
Junior quarterback Anthony Buich, who was sacked seven times last weekend by Central Michigan, looks for a shot at redemption. Unlike most of his teammates, the Tiburon, Calif., native has been to Hawaii.
"It's a beautiful place," said Buich, who was 11 of 26 last week for 122 yards. "I'm sure most of the guys are going to walk around here all week with their jaws open.
"But we've come here to win a football game. It's fun playing a Division I program because it gives you an opportunity to compete with the big boys."
Spoo is hopeful this week's opportunity turns into a victory. Last week, Central Michigan was too formidable. Despite Hawaii's current losing streak, Spoo puts the Rainbows in a similar category.
"We didn't start out very well at Central Michigan," Spoo said of the 19-0 deficit at the half. "And that disappointed me. We're not sure what to expect from Hawaii this week.
"I know after watching the film that USC is an outstanding football team. I'm sure Hawaii wants to redeem themselves and will be trying to do so at our expense."
If Hawaii is any worse for wear after last Saturday's 62-7 debacle against Southern California, Rainbows head coach June Jones hasn't seen it.
TODAY'S RAINBOW NOTEBOOK
Rainbows offense works
to get everyone on same page
This morning's practice was the last hard workout for the Rainbows as they prepare for their weekend encounter with Eastern Illinois at Aloha Stadium.
"I thought we had good concentration all week," Jones said. "It's hard to tell as a coach because I've been places where we had good practices and we played badly, and we had bad practices and we played well.
"Until the game starts, you don't know how everybody is plugged in, but I don't anticipate anybody will be anything but ready to go."
Hawaii spent the week working hard on the offensive phase of the game. All week, quarterback Dan Robinson tried to put more air under the football on the long routes down the middle. He also has worked hard to be on the same page as the receivers.
"It's kind of a two-way deal," Robinson said. "We have to come to the line of scrimmage as a unit and recognize what route will work best against the defense we're facing. We'll get there. We'll be better this weekend."
The Rainbows had better be. If they stumble and fall against the Division I-AA Panthers, the season could grow longer each weekend.
Jones said he will work with basically the same starting lineup as last weekend. Wide receiver Attrice Brooks has seen more practice time, which means his game time could increase as well.
"We want to stick with the starters, so we can work together better as a unit," Jones said. "Because we haven't had a lot of hitting in practice, we need to keep guys in there together to get used to game conditions."
Injury updateFreshman linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa was on crutches today after suffering an ankle sprain in yesterday's practice.
Because he hasn't been ruled eligible academically by the NCAA, Tinoisamoa wouldn't have suited up for the game anyway. Jones said it was a mild sprain and that he expected him back in practice next week. As for his academic standing, Jones said they were still waiting.
The coach also confirmed that wide receiver Davey deLaura will not play because of a nasty hamstring pull. Safety Nate Jackson remains sidelined with a knee injury. He could be back as early as next week.
Defensive end Joe Correia will play with a soft cast on his left hand. He broke a bone below the knuckle in last Saturday's loss to the Trojans.
"We expect him to play a lot," UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said. "We've moved Matt Elam out to end. He'll probably see some playing time as well."
Much like last weekend, Tony Tuioti will be in the lineup from 15 to 25 plays. His back is still bothering him. Junior college transfer Doug Sims will get the starting nod, but both defensive tackles will see plenty of playing time.
"It still gets stiff, especially after the half," Tuioti said. "Hopefully, it will continue to get better as the season goes along."
Parking problems addressedAloha Stadium officials announced yesterday that they will open the gates at 1 p.m. for the Eastern Illinois game.
There will also be more police to handle the traffic outside the stadium and to make sure people don't try to save parking stalls for their friends.
If they do after being warned, they could be ticketed. Parking was a problem for the USC game because of the sellout crowd and the swap meet.
By Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin
Ka Leo O Hawaii