Thursday, November 16, 2000
Louisiana TechYou would think the University of Hawaii defense knows pretty much what Louisiana Tech likes to do offensively. There are enough similarities in the two philosophies of Warriors head coach June Jones and Bulldogs counterpart Jack Bicknell to call them first cousins.
has own version
The Warriors' defenseWarriors notebook
know what's coming, but
stopping it is the trick
By Paul Arnett
"But just because you might know what's coming, doesn't necessarily mean you'll stop it," Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. "This is a very athletic football team that has played a tough schedule. We've got to play well this weekend and try to create some turnovers."
There are days the UH defense does just that against the offense in the team phase of the morning workouts. If safeties Nate Jackson or Jacob Espiau aren't taking practice passes the other way, linebackers Rinda Brooks and Pisa Tinoisamoa are. They know the tendencies. The one real difference will be defending a tight end.
Louisiana Tech vs. HawaiiSaturday 6:05 p.m. Aloha Stadium
"And he's a big guy," Lempa said of the 6-foot-7, 244-pound David Newman. He is fifth on the team in receptions with 22 for 202 yards and two touchdowns. "We definitely have to be aware of him when he's on the field. They like to throw to him out of trip sets on the other side. We run a similar play with our slotback.
"We also have to watch out for (James Jordan) at wideout and their running back (John Simon). Those two are very dangerous on the football field. They can run that funnel screen, catch you in a blitz and turn a short pass into a huge play. We've got to be ready for that."
Jordan may be the most proficient receiver Hawaii has faced this season.
He has caught 98 passes for 873 yards and three touchdowns. Simon has 63 receptions for 642 yards and four scores. He also has 513 yards rushing on 102 carries.
Now that Bicknell has settled on Luke McCown as his starting quarterback, the offense of the future is in place. McCown is a true freshman, who has completed 216 of 322 passes for 2,289 yards and 20 touchdowns. If the vote for newcomer of the year were held tomorrow, he would be the winner, not fellow freshman Tim Chang.
"This guy already has a lot of poise out there," Lempa said. "But what makes him even more dangerous is the system he's in. Like our offense, it's very difficult to defend. If you don't put pressure on him, he'll find somebody. It's the nature of the run-and-shoot."
Jones can only hope his offense can keep pace with these Bulldogs, who have played a much more difficult schedule en route to a 3-8 mark. The future Western Athletic Conference school lost badly to Kansas State (54-10) and Penn State (67-7) early on, but recent defeats to Auburn (38-28) and second-ranked Miami (42-31) reflect marked improvement.
"They have a very good defense that likes to mix its fronts and dog out of those looks," Jones said. "They use three-man and four-man sets. It's stuff we've seen this year, but you know they'll do something different.
"Everybody who has played us this year has come out in a new look. We just have to adjust on the fly."
The offensive line may find that a bit more challenging if right tackle Kynan Forney doesn't get better soon. He has not practiced this week, preferring to stand on the sidelines, supported by his crutches. The UH trainers expect him to play, even if his practice time the rest of the week is limited.
In the meantime, Jones moved Vince Manuwai to right tackle and Shayne Kajioka to right guard just in case. It's possible Forney can return, but he could injure himself again.
With a new offensive front, Chang will have to be prepared for any and all eventualities. While Forney has yielded only one sack this season, it's asking a lot of Manuwai to produce similar results this weekend. It's a different position where quickness and technique are as important as strength.
Chang is only now shaking the effects of the hit put on him nearly three weeks ago by San Jose State linebacker Josh Parry. Still, the former St. Louis School standout has completed 164 of 312 passes for 1,936 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"We need Timmy to have a good game and I believe he will,'' Jones said. "He was a little rusty last week, but we still won the game. He'll be fine this weekend. We expect them to mix their man and zone coverages, and try to blitz to put pressure on Timmy."
Hawaii will try to counter this with an effective running game. With James Fenderson back there, the Warriors have been stronger on the ground. He has three 100-yard games this year and four touchdowns. If Hawaii establishes the running game, it will make the passing attack against an average secondary that much more dangerous.
TODAY'S WARRIORS NOTEBOOK
One of the more pleasant surprises of the season for the University of Hawaii has been the play of running back James Fenderson.
Even though it didn't appear the former Mililani High player had that much chance of seeing time behind starters Avion Weaver and Afatia Thompson, Warriors head coach June Jones alerted the National Football League scouts to the potential of Fenderson, who was a linebacker at Long Beach City College before transferring to Hawaii last year.
"We got the word out on him last spring," Jones said after today's light workout at Cooke Field. "We sent films out to all the NFL teams and we told the scouts all about him on our four road trips. They'll see his play on the film and know he has the ability to compete on Sunday."
Fenderson only had two carries last year, but they were for 22 yards. He needed that season to adjust to running back at the Division I level and only now is coming into his own.
"It's takes awhile to learn how to be a back in this system," Jones said. "It's not just about running the football. You have to be able to catch the football and you have to be able to block. James has made great improvements on his blocking in the past few games."
He's also the leading rusher for the Warriors with 444 yards on only 72 carries. His average of 6.2 yards a rush would be among the top players in the WAC had he had enough carries. Fenderson also has four touchdowns.
"It feels great to get the opportunity to show what I can do," Fenderson said. "We all felt bad about the injuries Avion and Afatia had. I even had bruised ribs and missed one game.
"But we all want whoever is back there to do well to help the team win. We're a family first. For me, I'm just trying to run as hard as I can. I just keep bouncing off guys and twisting and turning until they get me down and the whistle blows."
Injury updateThe good news for offensive lineman Kynan Forney is he lost the crutches at this morning's workout. The bad news is, he didn't practice.
"And my rule usually is, if you don't practice, you don't play," Jones said. "We'll have to see how he is Saturday night before the game with Louisiana Tech. But right now, we're planning on going with Vince Manuwai and Manly Kanoa during the game."
UH trainers were hopeful Forney would be back on his feet sooner, but the bad ankle sprain suffered in the fourth quarter of last week's win over Nevada took more time to heal than first expected.
Forney tried to put pressure on it, but he labored throughout the morning. Unless he has miraculous healing powers over the next two days, it's unlikely he will play.
The news was a little better for defensive linemen Miles Garner and Mike Iosua. The two tackles have nagging ankle injuries that have limited their time of late. Iosua hasn't played in three games and Garner has been in and out of the lineup for a month of Saturdays.
Outside linebacker Robert Kemfort returned from bruised ribs, but is not likely to start. Jones was happy with the linebacker play of Anthony Smith, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Rinda Brooks. That trio created the kind of havoc Hawaii has been looking for all season.
"Robert will see playing time," Jones said. "But he probably won't start."
Everyone else is fit for duty. This is the healthiest UH has been in weeks.
Maui timeMaui Mayor James Apana announced today that Hawaii will play the University of Montana next year on Sept. 8 at War Memorial Stadium.
The plan has been in the works since last summer, but was finalized last week as reported in the Star-Bulletin.
Tickets will likely cost $30 and will not be a part of the season-ticket package, although those fans will get the right of first refusal.
The stadium can hold about 20,000, but could possibly be expanded to 25,000. Hula Bowl officials Marcia and Lenny Klompus will help in the logistics of pulling off the game. It's the first time Hawaii has played a regular-season matchup off Oahu.
Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin
2000 UH Football Special