Tuesday, September 28, 1999
Miners will test
Their D-coordinator is well-By Paul Arnett
versed at defending the
If Hawaii entertains any real thoughts of competing for their second Western Athletic Conference title in 20 years, beating Texas-El Paso would be a good place to start.
Granted, the Miners don't roll off the tongue when talking about conference championships. They have never won the WAC in football since joining the league in 1968. But to hear UTEP head coach Charlie Bailey tell it -- and he said as much in the WAC meetings this summer -- the Miners have as good a chance as anyone to be playing in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 18.
"After watching them on film, you can see they are a talented football team," UH head coach June Jones said after this morning's practice. "They come at you in a lot of different ways on offense and their defense is solid. The two cornerbacks (Nick Salinas and Crance Clemons) may be the best we have seen this season."
UTEP defensive coordinator Ronnie Jones is also well-versed in defending the run-and-shoot. He served as Buddy Ryan's strength and conditioning coach in 1987 at Philadelphia. From 1988-90, he was the linebackers coach for the Eagles, before handling the same job for the Los Angeles Rams under John Robinson in 1991 and the Oakland Raiders for head coach Art Shell in 1992.
"I know Ronnie also went back to work for Coach Ryan with the Houston Oilers and the Arizona Cardinals (before joining the UTEP staff in 1995)," June Jones said. "He understands the principles of the run-and-shoot because he has seen it and practiced against it."
The Miners are led by preseason defensive player of the year Brian Young, quarterback Jay Stuckey, running back Paul Smith, tight end standout Brian Natkin and kicking specialist Ricky Bishop.
They are coming off a huge 54-23 victory over previously unbeaten New Mexico State in front of the largest crowd (52,247) in Sun Bowl history. Prior to the loss to the Miners, the Aggies had stunned then No. 22-ranked Arizona State, 35-7.
"This is going to be a big test for us," Jones said. "They are coming off a big emotional win and like us, I feel like they're starting to believe in themselves.
"They've already played at Oregon and Kansas State, so they know what to expect on the road. I feel like this game will let both programs know where they're at and what to expect the rest of the way. We're not thinking about the postseason. The only thing on our minds is UTEP."
There haven't been many teams in the weekly Scripps Howard News Service computer poll that have moved up the charts faster and farther than Hawaii.
TODAY'S RAINBOW NOTEBOOK
Bows racing up the rankings
After the 62-7 loss to Southern California, the Rainbows were ranked No. 161 of the 237 Division I and Division I-AA teams.
But thanks to three consecutive victories over Eastern Illinois, Boise State and Southern Methodist, Hawaii is now ranked No. 92 with a power rating of 82.19.
By comparison, Florida State is No. 1 with a power rating of 115.84. That means on a neutral site, the Seminoles would be favored by about five touchdowns over the Rainbows.
Hawaii is the fourth-ranked team in the WAC. The top three are Texas-El Paso, Fresno State and Rice. Hawaii plays UTEP this weekend.
The Miners have a power rating of 90.22. Give Hawaii four points for home-field advantage and the Miners should be favored by 4. According to today's odds at the Imperial Palace, the Miners are a 4-point choice.
"I don't know anything about odds and polls, but I do know this is the best team we've faced since playing USC," UH head coach June Jones said today. "They do a lot of different things on offense that could pose problems for us."
Hawaii is 2-1 against the spread so far this season. The Rainbows have yet to be favored. The Eastern Illinois game was not on the board because the Panthers are a Division I-AA team.
Injury updateSlotback Davey deLaura was not in pads today, making it unlikely that he will be up and ready to play in the UTEP game Saturday.
DeLaura has been slowed with a nasty hamstring pull through the first month of the season. Jones said today that safety Daniel Ho-Ching saw some playing time on the scout team.
"But we're still going to hold him out until after the bye to get that shoulder stronger," Jones said today. "He would play if we asked him to."
Ho-Ching dislocated his shoulder in the first half of the game with Eastern Illinois. It was the same one he hurt on the last play of the spring game.
Jones said that Joe Correia continues to be bothered by a broken hand and a sore knee, but the defensive end will play this weekend. So will wide receiver Attrice Brooks. He saw limited playing time in the last two games because of a sprained thumb.
"We've got some bumps and bruises, but fortunately, the guys have toughened up and played hurt," Jones said.
Homecoming bluesHomecoming games have not been particularly kind to the Rainbows in recent years. Not since knocking off Utah, 41-30, in 1993 have the Rainbows won a homecoming game.
They came close in 1997, losing to Northeast Louisiana, 23-20 in overtime, on the famed hook-and-ladder play.
"I'm hoping we have a big crowd come out and celebrate these guys winning three games in a row," Jones said. "I hear about 35,000 is the expected crowd. I would hope it would be more than that."
Tinoisamoa likely to sitEven if the NCAA rules that Pisa Tinoisamoa is eligible to play, Jones said this morning that he plans to sit the linebacker for the remainder of the season.
"We haven't heard anything yet on his academic eligibility," Jones said. "But even if we do, we'll probably keep him out unless we have to have him because of injuries at linebacker."
Tinoisamoa didn't receive clearance from the NCAA because of a math credit in high school. Hawaii is appealing the decision, but no decision has been reached.
By Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin
Ka Leo O Hawaii