UH gets breather before final 2 games
AFTER playing eight straight weeks, the Hawaii football team finally gets a chance to catch its breath.
Following a 50-23 win over Utah State on Saturday, the Warriors (4-6, 4-4 Western Athletic Conference) have a week off to rest and recuperate heading into a challenging stretch run. They host No. 25 Wisconsin on Nov. 25 at Aloha Stadium and San Diego State in the season finale on Dec. 3.
"Just getting a win before a bye week goes a long way," UH coach June Jones said at his weekly press conference. "We've got our hands full with these last two teams, but certainly we can compete with them and hopefully we've grown up enough to learn how to win these type games."
The Warriors haven't had a break since the week following their loss to Michigan State in September. They'll practice today through Thursday, hit the weights on Friday, and take the weekend off to recharge as they prepare for Wisconsin.
The Badgers (8-3) of the Big Ten also have a bye and will look to send coach Barry Alvarez out with a win in his final regular-season game. They dropped their home finale 20-10 to Iowa last week at Camp Randall Stadium.
Alvarez announced his retirement from coaching and will remain as athletic director at Wisconsin.
"It's going to be a tough game, but we can deal with that and I think we have some pluses in our favor, too," Jones said. "It'll be fun to watch that game."
Kamehameha graduate Donovan Raiola is the Badgers' starting center. James Kamoku, a junior defensive back from Kealakehe, has played in 10 games and has seven tackles this season for Wisconsin.
The week off also gives the Warriors a chance to heal as Jones said defensive end Melila Purcell and center Derek Fa'avi are among the players nursing injuries following the Utah State game.
"I don't know that they would play this week if we had to play," Jones said. "So hopefully they'll be able to go two weeks from now."
UH enters the bye week having ended a two-game skid with last week's win. The Warriors sputtered early, but hit the gas before halftime to pull away from the Aggies.
The offense scored 28 points in the second quarter and the defense limited Utah State, which ranks close to the bottom of the national rankings in total offense, to 81 yards in the first half.
"I think we had a pretty good handle on what they were going to do and (defensive coordinator) Jerry (Glanville) did a good job with his game plan, too," Jones said.
"Defensively, I thought we hit and hustled and physically beat them at that part of the game. The players have really been buying into what Jerry's been doing and I think it's starting to show up."
Kelly honored: UH kicker Dan Kelly was named the WAC's special teams player of the week after accounting for 12 points in the Warriors' win over Utah State.
Kelly got UH on the board with two first-quarter field goals, including a career-long 46-yarder, then hit all six of his extra-point attempts.
Kelly, a freshman, is 9-for-13 on field goals this season and 32-for-35 on PATs.
"We've had to live through a couple of his learning experiences," Jones said, "but as he spends an offseason and really focuses on the techniques of his position, I think he's got a chance to be a good one and go along with a history of good kickers who have come out of the University of Hawaii."
Upset special: As much of the nation is anticipating a USC-Texas matchup in the Rose Bowl for the national championship, Jones thinks Fresno State could disrupt those plans this week.
The No. 16 Bulldogs (8-1) take their shot at No. 1 USC (10-0) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Hawaii lost to both teams earlier this season, falling to the Trojans 63-17 in the season opener and 27-13 to Fresno State on Oct. 29.
"Fresno State doesn't have anything to lose, and they've got a little bit of an attitude themselves, and I think they'll play them well," Jones said. "Whether they can beat them or not, who knows, but I think they'll give them a game."