RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH cornerback Kenny Patton is back from injury and is expected to start for the Warriors on Saturday at Nevada.
UH's Brennan has the road down cold
The quarterback looks forward to playing in the high altitude and low tempuratures of Reno
Here's another one for the lengthy looking-at-the-bright-side file of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan:
"You can throw the ball a lot further when you're at higher altitude," he said yesterday, when asked about going to play football at Nevada, 4,500 above sea level. "It's like hitting a golf ball."
Hawaii has lost both its games at Reno, 28-20 in 2001 and 24-14 in 2003. The Wolf Pack knocked the Warriors out of the conference championship race two years ago on a wet and cold afternoon at Mackay Stadium. This time, a bowl berth could be at stake for both Nevada (4-3, 3-1 WAC) and Hawaii (3-5, 3-3). UH needs to run the table and finish 7-5 to be bowl-eligible.
The Warriors were scheduled to leave for Reno after this morning's practice.
The mountains in the area were dusted with snow last week, and lows in town have gotten down to close to freezing this week. Brennan, who leads the WAC in most passing categories, said the climate Saturday won't matter to him.
"I played football in Boston and Colorado, cold weather, high altitude. If anything, I'm excited to get back into that weather and play," said Brennan, who is from Southern California, but played at Worcester Academy, a prep school in Massachusetts three years ago, and redshirted at Colorado in 2003.
"There was this one day when we had to practice, right before Halloween (at Worcester)," Brennan said. "It was one of those days when it was right around 32 degrees, 33 degrees and pouring rain. We were absolutely drenched and it was freezing. It was by far the most painful thing I've ever been in in my life. Right when the rain hit you it would freeze up on your body and freeze on your skin."
Boulder, Colo., also had its share of foul weather, he said.
"We had some snowstorms and ice storms in Colorado, but they had great cold-weather gear. I got used to it. I enjoyed the cold weather. I thought it was fun," Brennan said. "Playing football you get so hot and sweaty it's nice to be in cold weather because it balances you out."
Patton back: Cornerback Kenny Patton has returned to the starting lineup. He's been plagued by a variety of injuries from the start of the season, when he came back quickly from preseason knee surgery only to bang up his shoulder in the opener against USC.
"I'm feeling really good right now. I haven't really played for two weeks, so I've been able to get healthy," Patton said.
Lamar Broadway, who started the last two games at cornerback, moves back to free safety. Turmarian Moreland, with four interceptions in the last three games, is at the other corner and Lono Manners remains at strong safety.
That leaves freshman Dane Porlas the odd man out for now. Porlas sealed the San Jose State win with an interception in the final minute.
"It's musical chairs," Broadway said.
Wolf Pack plea: Hawaii isn't the only WAC team with football attendance problems.
Three Nevada senior co-captains made a special appeal to fellow students and others to turn out for Saturday's game.
Despite a 49-14 loss at Boise State last week, the Wolf Pack remains in contention for the WAC title at 3-1, 4-3 overall, said offensive tackle Adam Kiefer.
"It can do nothing but help us to have more people there," he said.
Kiefer, defensive back Kevin Stanley and linebacker Roosevelt Cooks appeared at a news conference yesterday to discuss attendance woes.
"We thought it was an issue that needed to be addressed because there are too many empty seats in the stands," Stanley said. "Of course, we need to give our fans a reason to come out -- and that is winning games."
Through four home games this year, attendance is averaging 15,241 per game at 31,900-seat Mackay Stadium.
Keith Hackett, Nevada's associate athletic director in charge of facilities, said this year's attendance is ahead of last year's numbers, when the Wolf Pack averaged 9,275 for six home games
The Wolf Pack drew a season-high 23,457 for rival UNLV on Sept. 17, but only about 20,000 combined the past two home games -- 11,584 for Idaho on Oct. 8 and 8,377 for Louisiana Tech on Oct. 15.
"It can be a little disheartening. ... because I have been here for a packed house," Kiefer said.
"There is nothing like running on the field when there are 30,000 people screaming for you. To get back to that would be great especially if we could be end our careers with a full house," he said.
Another senior co-captain, running back B.J. Mitchell, sent an e-mail to students earlier this week saying the team "would really appreciate" their support and attendance for the final two homes games. Nevada closes the season Nov. 26 at home against Fresno State.
In a series of stories by the Reno Gazette-Journal, fans and school officials cited a number of possible reasons for poor attendance, ranging from conflicts with hunting season and other entertainment, to the cost of tickets and rules prohibiting any food or water to be taken into the stadium.
The Associated Press contributed to this report