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Full Court Press

BY PAUL ARNETT

Sunday, November 4, 2001


[ UH WARRIOR FOOTBALL ]



Defense’s overtime was
quality time

UH finds a way past San Jose



HOWARD Cosell once said time of possession is one of the most useless stats on the sheet. But Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa begs to differ.

Despite the lopsided 34-10 victory last night over San Jose State, Hawaii had the ball only 20 minutes, 30 seconds. That translates to the defense being on the field 30 seconds shy of 40 minutes. Or as Lempa put it, "Oh my God. We played two games."

Fortunately for the Warriors, when they did have the ball, they made the most of it on offense, scoring 34 points off only 16 first downs. Several turnovers in the first half put the UH defense on notice, but despite the numerous minutes on the field, for the most part, Lempa's unit responded.

"We played a lot of different guys," Lempa said. "We lost Pisa (Tinoisamoa) on the first play. ... He's our best guy. We played eight defensive linemen and six defensive backs."

This shuffling in and out of the lineup is a key reason Hawaii's defense can play so many minutes well. The high-powered Spartans managed only 375 total yards, including a meager 124 on the ground.

Sack attack: San Jose State was second in the nation, allowing only three sacks in seven games. But the Warriors doubled that number with three sacks of their own.

"We did a good job pressuring their guys," Lempa said. "To be able to get as many sacks in one game as they had given up all year was huge for us. I'm proud of the way we played."

Ball on the ground: Coming into last night's game, Hawaii had lost only two of 11 fumbles. But all that changed in the first half as the Warriors let three of four fumbles slip away.

Despite the miscues, the Warriors refused to yield to the Spartans, who had scored 103 points the last two weeks in wins over Tulsa and Texas-El Paso. San Jose State scored only three points in the first half and a touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter. After that, there was little San Jose State could do.

"It wasn't pretty, but the sign of a good team is one that wins when things aren't going well," UH head coach June Jones said.

In the red zone: In the first half, Hawaii managed only 13 points on four trips inside the red zone. Quarterback Nick Rolovich fumbled at the San Jose State 5 on the first journey inside the 20. Two other times produced field goals by Justin Ayat.

Things picked up after that, as Rolovich threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Craig Stutzmann, and Thero Mitchell scored from 18 and 20 yards to keep Jones from having to answer questions about the run-and-shoot inside the red zone.

"Bill Walsh said 20 years ago that the run-and-shoot can't score touchdowns inside the 20," Jones said. "I'm tired of having to answer that question. We've proved you can score from inside the 20 this season."

Injury update: Tinoisamoa had X-rays done after straining his lower calf muscle on the first play from scrimmage. They proved negative, but Jones opted not to play him anyway for precautionary reasons. Fellow linebacker Chris Brown suffered a shoulder injury in the first half, but came back in to play the entire game.

Overall, the Warriors remained healthy. Cornerback Abraham Elimimian missed the game with a sprained ankle, but Hyrum Peters came in and did a solid job. He is still battling back from a hamstring pull that sidelined him earlier in the season.





Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.
Email Paul: parnett@starbulletin.com.



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