Warriors expecting Boise State’s tricks
The Broncos, riding 26 straight WAC wins, will likely have something up their sleeves
For Hawaii and Boise State, sometimes even incomplete passes are thrilling and novel.
Last week, Warriors coach June Jones was among those in awe of a play in which freshman slotback Davone Bess had the presence to knock a ball out of bounds instead of catching it for negative yardage during UH's 24-0 win at Idaho.
Last season, Broncos quarterback Jared Zabransky faked a fumble and threw a pass to a wide-open receiver that would've gone for a touchdown if he'd caught it. It didn't matter, though, as the trickery was one of the few failed BSU efforts during its 69-3 romp over Hawaii.
The two plays symbolize the Western Athletic Conference teams that square off tonight at what could be a rain-soaked Aloha Stadium.
Hawaii (1-2, 1-0 WAC) is loaded with precocious freshmen like Bess and other newcomers who weren't around for the four losses in a row to the conference-bully Broncos. Their confidence -- combined with the chips on the shoulders of the veterans of last year's massacre in Boise -- have UH believing it can overcome its 10 1/2-point underdog status tonight.
Boise State (1-2, 0-0 WAC) has won 26 consecutive conference outings, going back to 2001, when the Broncos edged the Warriors here, 28-21.
Despite a gaudy 49.6-to-18.2 scoring differential during that streak, Boise State has not done it with overwhelming talent. Coach Dan Hawkins has created an efficient system based on multiple offensive sets and a defense built on one time-honored premise: stopping the run.
The Boise State offense is led by the talented and unpredictable Zabransky. He rushed for four touchdowns, including an 85-yarder, last year against UH.
"They're so good we're going to try to sneak a 12th (player) in. We're looking to play with 12, 13 or 14," defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said. "With our new fronts I don't think they'll notice we have more people."
Jones said the Warriors must avoid mistakes on defense and take advantage of every opportunity on offense.
"It's kind of like when we played Michigan State. You can't give them extra chances. If we're not effective on offense and give them extra chances, the numbers go the other way," Jones said. "We can play with them. We should've beat them, I thought, two years ago, here. Just got to play good in all three phases and raise our game to their level and hopefully we can win."
Jones knows the Broncos will try at least one trick play. The problem is there's no way to know when or what.
"They do a good job with that. It seems like they do a different one every week to somebody," he said. "We've seen them all and they've all been effective at times. We're obviously aware of it and know it's going to happen. Just got to one-snap-and-clear if they hit something."
UH safety Landon Kafentzis said the Warriors need to set the tone early defensively with hard hitting, as they did against Idaho.
"A lot of it is attitude. We came out and we were flat last year. One thing led to another and before we knew it they had a bunch of points on us. A lot of it is just attitude. It'll be different this year," he said. "This year we're attacking a lot more. We're not waiting. We're going after them. We're trying to punish people. And that's how defense should be."
UH quarterback Colt Brennan has completed 73 percent of his passes, and has six touchdowns to just one interception. But he said passing alone won't beat the Boise State defense.
"Against a team like Boise, you need to have every weapon, as many bullets in your holster as possible. They're coming with it, they're a great football team. They're very smart, so we've got to establish a run game," Brennan said.
Hawkins said he's wary of Hawaii at home. He shrugged off any possible benefit of extra preparation time because Boise State's 48-20 victory over Bowling Green was played Sept. 21, and the Broncos did not have a game last weekend.
"I don't know. We've been fortunate the last two times (at Hawaii). I don't know if there's any magic formula," he said. "It's a great venue and the fans will bring a lot of energy."
Hawkins understands underdogs because, in many ways, he remains one himself at heart. The former UC Davis running back said he was happy that his alma mater upset Stanford last month, but he wasn't particularly surprised.
"I know what they've got going on over there (at Davis), so I'm always proud of them," he said.
Hawkins needed something to smile about, as Boise State lost its first two games, at Georgia and Oregon State.
"We just weren't playing Bronco football," senior left tackle Daryn Colledge said. "We just have to make fewer turnovers.
"Jerry Glanville brings a whole new element for us to prepare for. We have to unlearn everything we know for this (3-4) defense. Then we have to forget all about it for our next game," Colledge added. "This is a business trip, but hopefully we'll have something to celebrate."