It doesn't get any better than Brennan's bodyguards
Hawaii's offensive linemen can accomplish anything as long as they can do it together
It was the greatest upset in the history of University of Hawaii sports. But hardly anyone saw it, and few can even remember the score.
"Well, if you ask them, they'll say they weren't trying," Samson Satele said. "But it wasn't a fluke. We beat them by four."
It was the UH football team offensive line's triumph over the defensive line two summers ago -- in basketball.
HAWAII AT UTAH STATE
When: Saturday, 10:05 a.m. Hawaii time
Where: Romney Stadium, Logan, Utah
TV: ESPN Regional Television on KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
"We have these little tournaments between units and we have the best five on the team," starting right tackle Dane Uperesa said. "Me, Tala (Esera), Sam (Satele), Keoni (Steinhoff) and (John) Estes."
A formidable five, especially under the boards. But the defensive line's team had former UH basketball players Ikaika Alama-Francis and Tony Akpan.
"And Mel Purcell, he can play," Uperesa said. "But we made our shots."
Who played point guard?
"Estes," Uperesa said. "He's like a fatter Steve Nash. He knows how to handle the rock."
This fabulous five is even better in pads. Just sub in Hercules Satele for Steinhoff, and you have the starting group that paves the way for the nation's most productive offense. Heading into Saturday's game at Utah State (1-7, 1-3 WAC) the Warriors (6-2, 4-1) are atop Division I-A in points scored (45.4 per game), total offense (529.2) and passing (421.9).
A veteran NFL scout said the group might be the best in college football, and that all three
seniors -- Esera, Satele and Uperesa -- will be drafted.
"Texas might be close. But I certainly don't see any better at pass blocking," the scout said.
Coach June Jones has sent five offensive linemen to the NFL in his previous seven seasons at UH. He says this group is the best overall.
"They're physical pass blockers. Normally you think of that as a passive thing," Jones said. "But they're initiators and they're very aggressive in their approach to blocking. And they finish the plays, playing the play longer than the opponent. I think this is the best, going by the way the whole group plays."
Quarterback Colt Brennan is the main beneficiary of the efforts, which have led to just 15 sacks compared to 353 pass attempts.
"They're walking into every game to make a statement with the way they block and that has a lot to do with the fact that they punish guys. That's one of the funnest things I like to watch on film. I watch guys come blitz at me hard in the first quarter and try to get me off track. By the second, third, fourth quarter, guys are tired of coming up and meeting these guys in the hole. You can see when they blitz, guys don't even come hard. Once they come to the O-line they stop and try to go around them," Brennan said. "They just wear teams out and hit 'em and hit 'em and hit 'em. As a QB, I get to just stand back there and have a day."
Hawaii has started the same five offensive linemen all season. Here are their numbers and what offensive line assistant Dennis McKnight has to say about the five starters:
Pos: Left tackle
Career starts: 41
McKnight: "Tala I think right now is the most dominant game-in and game-out offensive lineman we have."
Pos: Left guard
Career starts: 8
McKnight: "Herc's the glue who was the final straw to make it a good line. I think he's the most improved player we got. On the whole team."
Career starts: 47
McKnight: "Sam, for having moved inside and playing his third position in four years, has done a phenomenal job at center. He makes all the calls. He's so smart. If we lost Sam, Marques (Kaonohi) would be able to step inside and do a good job."
Pos: Right guard
Career starts: 8
McKnight: "John Estes is 10 times better than he was his first start, and he was pretty damned good then."
Pos: Right tackle
Career starts: 16
McKnight: "Dane just played his best game of the year."
Laupepa Letuli is getting settled in at defensive end. The former offensive guard was moved to the other side of the line to help out because three defensive ends were injured Saturday.
Letuli came up with a sack in practice yesterday.
"I think I just caught my teammate off guard because I was breathing hard, so maybe he took it easy on me," said Letuli, who played some defensive tackle in high school two years ago. "I'm in the learning process all over again.
"Right now they say it's temporary. We'll see how it goes. I can go both ways, it's fine."
Letuli's uncles, Leo and Larry Goeas, played at UH.
"Leo was an offensive lineman, so he used to give him advice," said Larry, who was a defensive lineman. "Now he's in my world."
Oregon State game on ESPN2:
The Warriors' regular-season finale against Oregon State will be televised on ESPN2. Kickoff at Aloha Stadium remains at 6:05 p.m.
Pay-per-view package purchasers will now receive the Purdue game instead of the Oregon State game.
Punter Kurt Milne was a scout-team quarterback and kicker Dan Kelly a receiver at yesterday's practice. Kelly will handle PATs this week, as Jones decided not to bring Briton Forester on the trip. Forester made eight of nine extra points in his debut Saturday against Idaho, while Kelly continued to handle kickoffs. ... Junior-college transfer free safety Waikoloa Noa took a lot of reps with the starters yesterday, but did not make the trip.