Friday, January 21, 2000
set the tone
The Heisman Trophy winnerBy Paul Arnett
is one of several exciting running
backs in tomorrow's game
WAILUKU -- The weather has remained uncooperative this week, but it hasn't dampened the spirits of the players and coaches taking part in tomorrow's 54th annual Hula Bowl at Maui's War Memorial Stadium.
Last year's game was played in a driving rain storm and practice the last several days at Keopuolani Park have taken place in similar conditions, prompting Wisconsin head coach Barry Alvarez to say, "They don't tell you about this in the travel brochure. But heck, a little rain never hurt anybody.''
It certainly didn't hurt last year's attendance as the Maui faithful packed the stadium and remained until the bitter end. There are still tickets available in several sections. But the game is expected to be a sellout.
Those in attendance will be treated to a college all-star game that will highlight Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne and seven players with ties to the island chain. Alvarez won't use Dayne as often as Ricky Williams' number was called a year ago and Hawaii quarterback Dan Robinson isn't expected to play at all for the North squad.
"I told Coach Alvarez I could throw a behind-the-back screen pass if he wanted me to,'' Robinson said, then smiled. "But I doubt I'm going to see any playing time because of my shoulder. I can start rehabing it in two or three more weeks.''
Alvarez said yesterday that he will use Dayne for six to 10 plays and all of those won't be on the run. The main question posed by scouts this week is can Dayne catch the football coming out of the backfield.
"So, we're going to call some pass plays for him to show the NFL scouts he can catch the football,'' Alvarez said. "He would run it 30 times on Saturday if we asked him to, but I'm not going to call his number like we did in the Rose Bowl.''
Alvarez's North squad is blessed with several good running backs, including Marshall University's Doug Chapman. The MVP in the Motor City Bowl has caught the eye of several scouts this week, who believe he could be the star of tomorrow's show.
"I'm just trying to run hard on every play and do what the coaches ask me to do,'' said Chapman, who rushed for 4,249 yards on 816 carries during his career. He not only scored 55 rushing touchdowns, but caught 82 passes for 863 yards and six scores as well.
As ESPN analyst Bill Curry put it, "This kid can flat-out play. He is definitely one of the players the scouts are looking at.''
The South has a solid stable of running backs of its own. Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer said Southern California's Chad Morton has outstanding speed, and this game could be a coming-out party for small-college runners Curtis Keaton of James Madison and Jason Corle of Towson.
"We don't have the big-name guys like the North team has,'' Fulmer said. "But I've been impressed with what I've seen in practice this week. We feel like we'll be able to run the football.''
Both teams have solid passing games as well. The South will unleash Marc Bulger of West Virginia, Todd Husak of Stanford and Arizona's Keith Smith. Husak led Stanford to the Rose Bowl this season. In his career with the Cardinal, Husak completed 465 of 872 passes for 6,564 yards and 41 touchdowns.
His go-to receiver is Trevor Insley of Nevada. He is the NCAA record holder for career receptions (298) and receiving yards (5,005). He also set marks this year for single-season receiving yards (2,060) and yards receiving per game (187.3).
"They look like they could be very explosive,'' said Air Force head coach Fisher DeBerry, who has coached the North's defense this week. "You're limited by the rules and time together on what you can do defensively. It's a lot of one-on-one, which means our guys are going to have to be ready.''
One of those guys in the secondary is UH cornerback Quincy LeJay. He has been a little disappointed with his play in practice this week, but will have a chance to redeem himself this weekend.
"I'm going back to Honolulu (today) for an NFL tryout we're having on campus," LeJay said. "I know Dwight (Carter) and Yaphet (Warren) are going to be there. I haven't practiced as well as I would like. But I'm going to keep on working hard.''
Some other standouts to keep an eye on for the North are Navy center Terrence Anderson, first team All-America defensive tackle Rob Renes of Michigan and Wisconsin offensive tackle Mark Tauscher. The North quarterbacks should be familiar to UH fans. They are Brigham Young's Kevin Feterik and Billy Volek of Fresno State.
Top prospects on the South include Florida State offensive guard Jason Whitaker and San Diego State center Mike Malano. TCU strong safety Reggie Hunt is also a player scouts have kept an eye on this week. WAC defensive player of the year Brian Young of Texas-El Paso is also playing for the South.
"It's a good collection of athletes,'' Alvarez said. "I think you're going to see a very entertaining all-star game this weekend."