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Saturday, December 4, 2004



[ WARRIOR FOOTBALL ]


Bowl, pride at
stake tonight

Hawaii is after a postseason bid
and MSU a .500 record

You're bigger and faster. You've got a stable of solid running backs. The other team is last in the nation against the run.

Michigan State at Hawaii

Where: Aloha Stadium

When: Today, 6:35 p.m.

Tickets: $17 to $35, $3 for UH students for this game.

TV: Live, ESPN2 (no local blackout)

Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM

Internet: KKEA1420AM.com

Just line up and pound away, right? It worked for Fresno State against Hawaii.

Michigan State coach John L. Smith says it's not that easy. He wishes it were. Then he could have spent more time jogging on the beach this week instead of prepping his Spartans (5-6) for the Warriors (6-5) in a final regular-season game for both with bowl implications for UH and pride implications for MSU. The teams square off in an ESPN2-televised game today at Aloha Stadium, kickoff at 6:35 p.m.

"You can say they're weak against the run. Well, if we find a mismatch, we'll definitely try to exploit it," Smith said. "But is that enough?

"Thirty (points) might not be enough. Fifty might not be enough," Smith said.

Smith's fear of Hawaii's run-and-shoot passing attack sounds genuine. Although MSU has some local knowledge with former UH defensive coordinator Chris Smeland in the fold, his tenure here was long before Hawaii coach June Jones brought the four-receiver scheme to Manoa. The Spartans don't see much of that kind of thing in the Big Ten, and that unfamiliarity is what did in MSU's conference cohort Northwestern last week, a 49-41 victim of UH's aerial circus that ranks third in the nation with 325.5 yards per game.

"We're going to have a good rotation of players coming in and out," Spartans defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "Because of their offense, and because of the heat."

Jones says he has the willies, too, after watching a horror film entitled "Michigan State 49, Wisconsin 14."

"They're fast and big. The scheme John L. brought in is unique to the Big Ten. You combine that with the size of their receivers and the speed of their running backs, and it's pretty scary," Jones said.

The Spartans attack by committee, with Jason Teague (654 yards), DeAndra Cobb (600) and Jehuu Caulcrick (587) sharing the load.

Quarterback Drew Stanton is a threat, too. He rushed for 611 yards with five TDs, when he wasn't throwing for 1,271 and seven. He and fellow QBs Damon Dowdell and Stephen Reaves were vulnerable to the interception, though, combining for 17 picks allowed.

Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang did an outstanding job of decreasing his interceptions this season. Although he is the NCAA all-time leader in the category, as he is in passing yardage, Chang has thrown only 13 INTs this season. That's really good when put next to 30 touchdown passes.

If the Warriors lose, it's the last game for Chang, and he and 24 other seniors will be honored in the annual senior walk. (Receiver Rene Melson is a senior, but he is petitioning the NCAA for an additional season and will not participate in the festivities.)

"It really hasn't hit me yet," Chang said of the impending end of his college career. "I guess because we're still trying to win a big game."

A victory would give the Warriors a third consecutive Hawaii Bowl bid. A loss would leave the game with a matchup of Alabama-Birmingham against Troy or Akron.

The UH seniors who began playing in 2001 enter the game with a 34-17 record; they are 37-26 since 2000, when most of them redshirted but Chang and defensive tackle Lui Fuga played. (Fuga was also on the 1999 team that went 9-4).

Key Matchup

MSU punter Brandon Fields vs. UH punt returner Chad Owens
A punter with a great leg like Fields (nation-leading 48.3 yards per kick) is a great asset, especially in a low-scoring, field-position battle. But what about in a high-scoring shootout as tonight's game promises to be, when one of the most dangerous return men in the nation is salivating 50 yards downfield? Fields will have to decide whether to kick shorter and away from Owens, or risk allowing him an eighth career TD return. Hawaii is 6-0 in games in which Owens has taken a kickoff or punt to the house.

If the Warriors win tonight, defensive back Abraham Elimimian, offensive lineman Uriah Moenoa and kicker Justin Ayat will be the first Hawaii four-year starters to finish their careers with four winning seasons since 1982.

"There's a lot of emotion when your senior year is ending and you played from young time," said senior Chad Kapanui, a key special-teams performer all four years. "This year went by so fast."

Kick returner/receiver Chad Owens has started the past three seasons, but was also a key to UH's late run in 2001 that ended with a 72-45 thumping of Brigham Young that featured two touchdowns on returns by Owens.

In addition to four touchdowns receiving last week, Owens got his fourth touchdown on a punt return last week. Tonight, he is matched up against the Spartans' Brandon Fields, who leads the nation with 48.3 yards per punt.

"That's a good thing and a bad thing," Smith said. "Brandon's a great punter, but he could give Chad a lot of room to run. We might want to just keep it away from him. He's the best return man I've seen this year."

UH special teams coach Mouse Davis said Fields creates problems with his directional kicking.

"We've been watching tape, but it's difficult to get a line on where he punts," Davis said.

Hawaii is 6-1 at home and Michigan State is 1-4 on the road.

"The trip to get here, to play football is a very long and tenuous journey. It's a complete day. And then there's the distractions," Smith said.

MSU must put the disappointment of not having a bowl game behind it. The Spartans do have something to play for, though -- a non-losing record.

"If we think about (no postseason), this Timmy Chang guy will tear us up," linebacker Tyrell Dortch told the Detroit News. "A 6-6 record won't get you to a bowl game, but it's not a losing season. You'd rather be even-Steven than be a loser. There's a big difference."


Probable starters

Michigan State
Offense
X 6 Matt Trannon 6-6 217 Jr.
LT 72 Stefon Wheeler 6-5 330 Jr.
LG 74 Kyle Cook 6-3 303 So.
C 51 Chris Morris 6-4 298 Jr.
RG 76 William Whitticker 6-5 329 Sr.
RT 79 Sean Poole 6-7 290 Sr.
TE 81 Jason Randall 6-5 269 Sr.
Z 3 Kyle Brown 6-1 208 Jr.
S 32 Jerramy Scott 5-10 188 So.
QB 5 Drew Stanton 6-3 225 So.
RB 20 Jason Teague 5-9 193 Jr.
Defense
RUSH 59 Clifford Duke 6-3 258 Sr.
DT 96 Domata Peko 6-2 297 Jr.
NG 99 Brandon McKinney 6-3 320 Jr.
STUD 92 Clifton Ryan 6-2 288 So.
MIKE 44 Ronald Stanley 6-0 234 Sr.
WHIP 41 David Herron 6-1 251 Jr.
BANDIT

34 Tyrell Dortch 5-10 208 Sr.
LC 31 Jaren Hayes 5-9 186 Jr.
FS 25 Jason Harmon 5-11 202 Sr.
SS 36 Eric Smith 6-1 193 Jr.
RC 17 Roderick Maples 5-10 190 Sr.
Specialists
PK 16 Dave Rayner 6-2 209 Sr.
P 8 Brandon Fields 6-6 234 So.
SS 51 Chris Morris 6-4 298 Jr.
LS 56 Brian Bury 6-0 240 So.
H 8 Brandon Fields 6-6 234 So.
KR 21 DeAndra Cobb 5-10 197 Sr.
PR 2 Agim Shabaj 5-10 195 Jr.
or 3 Kyle Brown 6-1 208 Jr.

Hawaii
Offense
X 84 Jason Rivers 6-1 189 So.
H 2 Chad Owens 5-9 177 Sr.
LT 70 Tala Esera 6-3 291 So.
LG 65 Hercules Satele 6-2 279 Fr.
C 64 Samson Satele 6-2 278 So.
RG 66 Brandon Eaton 6-2 291 Jr.
RT 74 Jeremy Inferrera 6-2 284 So.
Y 38 Gerald Welch 5-7 216 Sr.
Z 9 Britton Komine 5-10 188 Sr.
QB 14 Tim Chang 6-1 196 Sr.
RB 6 Michael Brewster 5-5 185 Sr.
Defense
LE 98 Mel Purcell 6-4 266 Jr.
LT 99 Lui Fuga 6-1 294 Sr.
RT 91 Matt Faga 6-2 324 Sr.
RE 30 Kila Kamakawiwo'ole 6-3 241 Jr.
SLB 51 Ikaika Curnan 5-10 221 Jr.
MLB 55 Watson Ho'ohuli 5-11 222 Sr.
WLB 45 Tanuvasa Moe 5-11 210 Jr.
CB 37 Abraham Elimimian 5-10 185 Sr.
SS 42 Leonard Peters 6-1 184 Jr.
FS 8 Landon Kafentzis 6-0 194 Jr.
CB 24 Kenny Patton 6-0 187 So.
Specialists
P 25 Kurt Milne 6-0 196 So.
K 47 Justin Ayat 6-0 201 Sr.
LS 61 Bryce Runge 5-11 236 Jr.
PR 2 Chad Owens 5-9 177 Sr.
KR 21 Jason Ferguson 5-5 157 Fr.
Hold 25 Kurt Milne 6-0 196 So.

Schedules

Michigan State (5-6, 4-4 big ten)
Sept. 4 at Rutgers L, 19-14
Sept. 11 Central Michigan W, 24-7
Sept. 18 Notre Dame L, 31-24
Sept. 25 at Indiana W, 30-20
Oct. 2 at Iowa L, 38-16
Oct. 9 Illinois W, 38-25
Oct. 16 Minnesota W, 51-17
Oct. 30 at Michigan L, 45-37 (3OT)
Nov. 6 Ohio State L, 32-19
Nov. 13 Wisconsin W, 49-14
Nov. 20 at Penn State L, 37-13
Today at Hawaii
Hawaii Warriors (6-5, 4-4 WAC)
Sept. 4 Florida Atlantic L, 35-28 (OT)
Sept. 18 at Rice L, 41-29
Oct. 2 Tulsa W, 44-16
Oct. 9 Nevada W, 48-26
Oct. 16 at Texas-El Paso L, 51-20
Oct. 23 San Jose State W, 46-28
Oct. 29 at Boise State L, 69-3
Nov. 6 Louisiana Tech W, 34-23
Nov. 12 at Fresno State L, 70-14
Nov. 19 Idaho W, 52-21
Nov. 26 Northwestern W, 49-41
Today Michigan State

Statistical comparison

MSU Category UH
28.6 Scoring 33.4
235.8 Rushing 94.8
211.6 Passing 325.5
447.5 Total Offense 420.4
22.1 First Downs 22.0
11.4 FD Rushing 5.1
9.5 FD Passing 15.6
1.2 FD Penalty 1.3
25.9 Points Allowed 38.3
177.2 Rushing Allowed 258.5
190.2 Passing Allowed 210.0
367.4 Total Offense Allowed 468.5

(above stats are per-game averages)
8-45 Interceptions -- Yards 13-65
45.0 Punting 38.0
60-529 Penalties 67-569
18-7 Fumbles-lost 18-7
29:16 Ave. Time of Possession 27:54
65-163 Third Down Conversion 63-147
6-12 Fourth Down Conversion 4-13

Key players

Rushing A Yards Avg TD
Jason Teague, MSU 137 654 4.8 5
Drew Stanton, MSU 84 611 7.3 5
Michael Brewster, UH 100 622 6.2 6
West Keli'ikipi, UH 52 261 5.0 5
Passing A C I Y TD
Drew Stanton, MSU 188 119 6 1,271 7
Damon Dowdell, MSU 114 66 6 657 4
Tim Chang, UH 507 298 13 3,437 30
Kainoa Akina, UH 19 7 4 84 0
Receiving Rec Yards Avg TD
Matt Trannon, MSU 33 386 11.7 2
Jerramy Scott, MSU 34 337 9.9 3
Chad Owens, UH 81 893 11.0 11
Jason Rivers, UH 64 779 12.2 6
Tackles S A Tot FL/S
Ronald Stanley, MSU 70 48 118 8/2
Eric Smith, MSU 64 41 105 3/0
Jason Harmon, MSU 45 50 95 1/0
David Herron, MSU 48 39 87 6/3
Roderick Maples, MSU 49 17 66 1.5/1
Leonard Peters, UH 64 36 100 6/1
Melila Purcell, UH 42 22 64 15.5/6
Watson Hoohuli, UH 36 26 62 6/.5
Tanuvasa Moe, UH 26 26 52 5/2
Abraham Elimimian, UH 36 11 47 2.5/.5
Kenny Patton, UH 32 15 47 .5/0

WAC standings


Conference Overall

W L Pct W L Pct Str
Boise State 8 0 1.000 11 0 1.000 W22
UTEP 6 2 .750 8 3 .727 L1
Fresno State 5 3 .625 8 3 .727 W5
Louisiana Tech 5 3 .625 6 6 .500 W1
Hawaii 4 4 .500 6 5 .545 W2
Nevada 3 5 .375 5 7 .417 L3
Tulsa 3 5 .375 4 8 .333 W2
SMU 3 5 .375 3 8 .273 L1
Rice 2 6 .250 3 8 .273 L6
San Jose State 1 7 .125 2 9 .182 L7

Today's game
Michigan State at Hawaii



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