'U-turn' to NMSU next for Hawaii
The Warriors return after their rout of Fresno, but they'll soon be off to play the Aggies
The Hawaii football team is rolling up offensive numbers at nearly the same rate as frequent-flyer miles these days.
The Warriors returned to Honolulu early yesterday -- before the earthquake hit -- flying high from a 68-37 blowout of rival Fresno State, and will have a couple of days to kick back at home before heading right back to the mainland for Saturday's Western Athletic Conference game at New Mexico State.
"It's a big U-turn, but we'll be ready," Hawaii center Samson Satele said.
UH spokeswoman Lois Manin said last night there was no word if the Warriors' travel plans for next Saturday's game at New Mexico State would be affected. The team is scheduled to fly into El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday night.
"At this point, it looks like it will be as planned, especially since it's a charter flight. But we have no way of knowing for sure yet," Manin said.
This week's trip marks the midway point of a stretch of three road games over a four-week span. The Warriors will host Idaho next week, then travel to Utah State for a Nov. 4 meeting.
As they pack their bags for another lengthy flight, the Warriors will take with them the confidence that comes from putting together a dominant performance previously unseen outside of Aloha Stadium.
"We've never done it on the road before, so it makes me
proud of the kids," Hawaii coach June Jones said after the Warriors broke the school record for points in a road game and fell just four points short of the overall record in the victory at Fresno State.
Hawaii (4-2, 2-1) broke the 60-point mark for the first time since a 61-36 win over Eastern Illinois to open the 2002 season, and posted their highest total since the 72-point explosion against Brigham Young in 2001.
Hawaii enters the week atop the national rankings in passing offense and total offense, and ranks fourth in the country in scoring at 41 points per game, trailing only Clemson, Texas and West Virginia.
"It's a great lift, and it sets the tempo for the rest of the season," said quarterback Colt Brennan, the nation's leader in total offense.
Once the Warriors arrive in Las Cruces, they'll gear up for a shootout between the top two passing offenses in the country.
As of Saturday's games, Hawaii topped the NCAA Division I rankings with 420.8 yards per game through the air. The Aggies entered their game yesterday against Boise State just behind Hawaii at 415.
The Warriors operated efficiently in hanging big numbers on UNLV, Eastern Illinois and Nevada at home this season, and took that level of execution with them to Fresno to win their first road game since beating San Jose State 45-38 nearly a year ago.
"We know we're on the road, everybody's saying we can't play on the road," said defensive lineman Ikaika Alama-Francis. "We wanted to prove everybody wrong and prove that Hawaii belongs and we can play football."
The Warrior secondary will have to adjust to the loss of starting cornerback Kenny Patton, who suffered a broken collarbone on Saturday. A.J. Martinez and C.J. Hawthorne played most of the game at the corners, with Myron Newberry and Gerard Lewis also getting significant playing time.
"We looked at all of them," UH defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said.
To the top:
Brennan's string of big games has pushed him to the top of the national charts.
The junior came out of Saturday's game first in the country in total offense at 395.7 yards per game, with NMSU sophomore quarterback Chase Holbrook second at 388.8.
Brennan was also first in total passing yards (2,271) and points responsible for (152). He ranks second to Holbrook (403.6) in passing yards per game with 378.5.
Brennan is third in passing efficiency (179.2) with a completion percentage of 73.1 and 23 touchdowns -- most in Division I -- against five interceptions.
Backup Tyler Graunke is 13-for-14 for 126 yards and a touchdown in relief of Brennan this season.
Slot receiver Davone Bess remains first in the country in receptions per game with 8.17 and ranks seventh in receiving yards per game with 94.83. The sophomore had eight catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday.
Running back Nate Ilaoa ranks 19th in all-purpose running with 130 yards per game. He has 430 rushing yards and 352 receiving this season and leads the Warriors in scoring with seven touchdowns.
Note: Several media members covering the Warriors in Fresno, including Star-Bulletin reporter Jason Kaneshiro, were stuck on the mainland because of the earthquake.
"They said we might not get to leave until Tuesday night at the earliest," said Bobby Curran. The KKEA-1420 play-by-play radio man was stranded at the San Francisco airport with color analyst Robert Kekaula.
Star-Bulletin reporter Dave Reardon contributed to this report