Warriors’ Graunke excels in mop-up duty
Hawaii's third-year sophomore expects to be the starting quarterback again someday
A lot of second-string quarterbacks secretly hope the starter plays poorly so he can replace him. It's human nature.
SJSU at Hawaii
Where: Aloha Stadium
When: Tomorrow, 6:05 p.m.
TV: Pay per view (Ch. 255)
Radio: KKEA (1420-AM)
Not true for Hawaii backup Tyler Graunke. Those deep, dark thoughts are unnecessary. He knows the more success Heisman Trophy candidate Colt Brennan achieves, the sooner he gets in the game. That's true in the short term and long term.
When Brennan -- the nation's leader in touchdown passes and several other categories -- gets the Warriors out to an insurmountable lead in less than three quarters, it means lots of playing time for Graunke. It's happened five times this season.
Brennan, a junior, said he's leaning toward returning to UH next year. But if he continues at this pace, it's possible he will get a draft status he can't refuse -- which would make Graunke the No. 1 quarterback heading into 2007.
"The better he does, the better opportunity there is for me," said Graunke, a third-year sophomore.
Brennan is 11 TDs away from the NCAA single-season record, but he's fine with giving way in the fourth quarter of blowouts.
"Everybody's starting to say, 'We can't wait to see Tyler Graunke jump in there.' He's doing better than me right now sometimes when he comes in," Brennan said.
Graunke's statistics are actually better than those of Brennan in several categories, including completion percentage (73.8 to 72.3) and yards per attempt (11.6 to 9.9). He knows that might be an aberration because he's only thrown 42 passes compared to Brennan's 380.
"When you're in there longer, a lot more balls go to the other team and a lot more hit the ground," Graunke said.
He said he doesn't mind that the game is already lopsided when he comes in. It's still fun to run the offense.
"I just go in and see it pretty clearly and just try to complete the ball and score touchdowns because the other team's pretty much shot when we're beating them by 40 points," Graunke said. "So I just try to put the dagger in them. We've been getting some blowouts. I enjoy that."
Graunke started the first two games of last season, losses against USC and Michigan State, before Brennan emerged.
Graunke admits to a bit of an emotional slump at that point.
"I lost my hunger a little bit when I lost the starting job," he said. "I didn't stop caring about football, but my freshman year all I was doing was living football from the time I woke up and I realized there was more to life. I took time to do my own thing for a while."
Coach June Jones has always said he's confident Graunke can lead the team.
"He's held up, he's real competitive," Jones said. "He had to get focused on his classwork (he was suspended from one game this season for missing school) and a lot of other things, but I think he's finally coming around. He's a gamer. The last two years he's proven that."
Graunke has the date Aug. 30, 2008, etched in his brain. Hawaii opens its season at Florida, and unless something strange happens between now and then, he'll be the starting quarterback.
"I can't stop thinking about that. I know that's going to be my senior year, and the way I'm thinking, worst-case scenario I'll be starting for one year if Colt stays (next year)," he said. "Eh, I'm hoping I get two years and he gets an opportunity to (go to the NFL). I'm just going to take it where he leaves it."
Brennan and Graunke are former roommates, but they remain friends.
"I know it's gotta be hard, especially when you're going in as the starter and then in the last year and a half to be sitting there in the shadows," Brennan said. "He really is a team guy. He's gone through his ups and downs, but he's stayed on it, and comes out to practice excited every day."
What took so long?: The first Jerry Glanville job rumor of the season surfaced yesterday, as a national reporter wrote that an unidentified source told him Glanville "could be a factor" in the head coach opening at North Texas.
No one expects Glanville to stay at UH forever, but he seems more comfortable now than last year, his first at Hawaii. Yesterday he clearly indicated he's in no hurry to leave his post as Warriors defensive coordinator.
"I may move (soon)," Glanville said. "But not past Diamond Head."
He said he will be automatically linked to any job in Texas.
"That's just Internet chatter," Glanville added. "I have not spoken one word to anyone. People will always speculate."
Watson's got a shot: Sophomore defensive end Keala Watson (knee) might suit up tomorrow after missing the last two games, joining another defensive lineman, Renolds Fruean (ankle), who was also injured in the Idaho game.
"If you got 93 (Watson) and 97 (Fruean) back healthy, you've got an excellent rotation. Hopefully those two are ready to go, because they are both big-time football players," Glanville said.
Also, freshman kickoff returner and backup wide receiver Malcolm Lane returned to practice yesterday after missing the second hour of Wednesday's workout with a back sprain.
Starting D solidifies: The Warriors, who have allowed an average of 12.3 points in the last three games, look like they may start the same 11 defensive players as the previous game for the first time this season.
"Right now, I don't think we'll have a change before game day," Glanville said.
BACK TO TOP
HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH
Each weekday while UH junior quarterback Colt Brennan is considered a factor in the Heisman race, the Star-Bulletin will provide pertinent statistics and/or tell you what voters and pundits think of him and his chances.
Scott Van Pelt
ESPN SportsCenter anchor
"You really wish that Hawaii could get another shot at Alabama and Boise State now, because I don't believe they could slow Colt Brennan down at this point. Is he a 'system' QB? Sure, to some degree he is. June's offense is like watching a video game, but Colt is doing this for real, which is what he is."
A lesson in selective stat citing
Brennan needs 11 touchdown passes to catch David Klingler's record of 54 in one season, set in 1990 for Houston. Hawaii fans like to point out that, unlike Brennan, Klingler was not pulled early in blowouts, allowing him to throw 11 TD passes in one game.
It should also be remembered that the Warriors' schedule this year includes 14 games (including the bowl game, which counts in stats now), while Klingler's record was amassed in an 11-game regular season.
This doesn't mean a record by Brennan would necessarily be tainted.
Brennan sat out the fourth quarter six times this season, so he has 43 touchdowns in 34 quarters. Assuming Klingler played every quarter of every game, he had 54 TDs in 44 quarters. Brennan averages 1.264 TDs per quarter, and Klingler averaged 1.227.
If Brennan continues his current TD-per-quarter pace, he'll break the record early in the regular-season finale, against Oregon State on Dec. 2 -- that is, if he plays all four quarters tomorrow against San Jose State and Purdue next week. If he plays three quarters in both, at this pace the record would fall late in the OSU game, or early in the Hawaii Bowl.