Kalani Simpson Sidelines

Kalani Simpson

Sunday, September 5, 2004

Owls blind Warriors
with science

WHEN the last ball dropped, and it ended for good, Florida Atlantic corner Willie Hughley whooped, and went running for the crowd that had come all this way to see this game.

Ryan McNally, a backup running back, dropped to his knees, and started testifying, talking in tongues. Over and over and over and over:

"Hallelujah!" he said, again and again. "Thank you, Jesus!" Just on his knees, yelling into the night.

An equipment assistant hollered into his cell phone: "We just won!" he said.

In Florida, it was a little after 4 a.m.

The players took pictures.

And the crowd that had come chanted, over and over again:

"F-A-U! F-A-U! F-A-U!"

No, this was not your everyday Division I-AA team. And this was not your everyday coaching staff. And these players were not everyday for I-AA.

"I explained to them all," their coach, Howard Schnellenberger, rumbled, "the theory of force is mass times velocity squared."

For FAU, the discovery of science never felt so good.

And this has to raise some level of alarm, especially considering the styles played by upcoming Hawaii opponents like Rice, Tulsa, Boise State (who laid big lickings on almost-WAC opponent Idaho. The Vandals really bring a lot to the table, don't they, folks?).

And though I may have occasionally made snide remarks to the contrary, everybody in the conference is, by definition, definitely Division I.

This Hawaii defense needs to get faster. Right now. That much we learned last night.

Maybe some of these fab freshmen we've been hearing so much about can help, ready or not. Maybe that's the key.

But what about all the takeaways, you say?

Good point. That certainly looked good, last night. You can never complain about three interceptions, and only a fool would try.

But in the end, Hawaii didn't have it. Not on either end. Not enough offense. One too few stops. UH was out-big-played and out-quicked.

Hey, Florida is loaded with talent. That state has more football players than it knows what to do with, that's obvious.

And Howard Schnellenberger is a legend, and his staff is probably one of the country's best. You don't match wits like these every day.

(Let's put it this way: UTEP's Mike Price is going to love coaching in the WAC.)

Yeah, these guys are the real deal, even for I-AA.

But here's another thing not to forget: This is a team whose dream it is to join the Sun Belt Conference.

The hype ends here, now. You can't afford it when you're 0-1 against I-AA.

"It's a tough loss for us," Tim Chang said. It was. It is.

"You can't do that against good teams," June Jones said.

Someone asked if UH was sluggish. But no. On this night, another team was better. Florida Atlantic. At least in its first game, this is the level Hawaii is at. And this season might be a little more interesting than you had previously hoped.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com



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