June Jones and the Hawaii Warriors will have an extra week to prepare for the Sept. 16 home opener against UNLV.
Time is right for UH's bye week
Jones is glad the Warriors can recharge after "outhitting" and "outhustling" the Crimson Tide
Before turning its attention ahead to its next opportunity, the Hawaii football team spent some of its Labor Day looking back at the one that slipped away.
After a second-half rally came up just short in a 25-17 loss at Alabama last Saturday, the Warriors were left to take the lessons learned in their visit to one of college football's storied venues into their only bye week of the season.
"It's definitely one opportunity that would have been an unbelievable deal to accomplish," UH coach June Jones said yesterday to open his first press conference of the season. "It's frustrating because after looking at the tape I really thought we outhit them, we outhustled them, we outplayed them. We just had a lot of things to overcome and we weren't able to do it."
The week off gives the Warriors a chance to recharge following their much-anticipated visit to Bryant-Denny Stadium and refocus entering a 12-week stretch of games starting with the Sept. 16 home opener against UNLV.
After running and lifting yesterday, the Warriors return to the practice field this morning. They'll practice again tomorrow and Thursday and work out on their own on Friday before taking the weekend off.
Jones cited nerves for some
of the Warriors' mistakes early in the game. Other key miscues -- most notably two lost fumbles and a botched punt resulting in a safety -- proved critical and provided an object lesson heading into the remainder of the season.
"Like I told them today, if you have five turnovers against UNLV it doesn't matter what you do in the other stuff again, you're not giving yourself a chance to win," he said. "Every game it doesn't change. You have to tackle, you have to take care of the football."
Jones said the bye comes at an opportune time following the team's cross-country journey, and with a UNLV team that racked up 506 yards in total offense (332 passing) in a 54-10 rout of Idaho State last week coming to town next week.
"It probably is because of the long week, and UNLV has a little bit of a Florida, Urban Meyer offense. Like a wishbone out of the shotgun deal. So it takes a little more time," he said.
After reviewing the tape, Jones had high praise for the UH defensive front for its performance against Alabama. The Warriors limited the Crimson Tide to 22 rushing yards after halftime, and the defensive effort helped the Warriors rally from a 22-3 third-quarter deficit and give the offense a shot at tying the game on its final drive.
"Our defensive line just played fabulously," Jones said. "(Defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville's) got a good scheme against the run, he always has ever since I've known him. We had guys in the right place and sometimes we didn't. But having (safety) Leonard (Peters) back there the difference was they didn't go for a 70-yard run, he tackled them for an 8- or 9-yard gain."
The secondary remained a question mark for Jones after Alabama rolled up 253 passing yards with receiver Keith Brown catching six passes for a game-high 132 yards and a touchdown.
Transfer cornerback Keenan Jones, who was expected to help solidify the defensive backfield, wasn't cleared in time to make the traveling roster, and will have time to learn the system during the bye week.
"When I look at the tape, I'd say it's still a concern," June Jones said. "Hopefully we'll get Keenan a bunch of reps, we've got two weeks to get him ready. He'll help us. But if I was looking at it, I would be expecting a whole lot of balls in the air because there aren't much places to run the ball."
The UH offense struggled early before getting into gear in the second half to finish with 372 yards and put a scare into the Crimson Tide.
"I think the guys were excited more than nervous," Jones said. "I thought early we just were so anxious, we felt good about ourselves and felt confident and felt we could do it. And looking at the tape, we had an opportunity to do that. After today we'll forget about it and go to the next one."
Another benefit of the bye is the chance to recover from injuries suffered on Saturday. Running back Nate Ilaoa sat out the second half with a concussion and backup Reagan Mauia sprained both of his thumbs. Linebacker Solomon Elimimian had a sprained knee.
"I don't think we have anything major, so I think well be OK," Jones said.
Although Saturday's game came down to the final play, Jones didn't think the NCAA's new rules implemented to speed up games factored in the outcome.
"We handled it pretty well I thought," he said. "I thought there was one time after a change of possession where we should have snapped it 5 to 6 seconds earlier. But other than that I thought it was pretty good.
"The bottom line is if we didn't fumble on the 2-yard line and we didn't eat up 6 minutes to get the next touchdown, that would have been the difference right there."
Jones also had an instant-replay challenge upheld, erasing an Alabama touchdown in the fourth quarter when Brown was ruled out of bounds.
"I was kind of amazed they didn't reverse it already," he said. "They looked at it, and why they wouldn't reverse it (before Jones made the challenge) I have no idea."