San Jose State's Yonus Davis ran over Boise State's Marty Tadman during the Broncos' 23-20 win last Saturday.
Spartans playing spoiler
SAN Jose State's forays into national football prominence have been few over the decades. But there the Spartans were, sitting at No. 20 with a 9-1 record going into their final game of the 1975 season.
The Rainbows whacked the Spartans 30-20, knocking them right out of the poll.
Now, 31 years later, San Jose State can get some revenge. Hawaii isn't ranked, but the Warriors are knocking on the doors of all three polls. An upset by the visiting Spartans would probably lock them out for the rest of the season.
Here's what to watch for as UH tries to complete its Western Athletic Conference season at 7-1 tonight:
When San Jose State has the ball: If running back Yonus Davis gets going, which is usually the case, it opens up the entire Spartans offense, especially play-action passing by accurate quarterback Adam Tafralis. He completes 68.5 percent of his throws. His 14-5 TD to INT ratio isn't Brennanesque, but it's still quite good. Receivers James Jones and John Broussard are both dangerous on a variety of pass routes.
The Warriors expect to start the same 11 players on defense as the previous game for the first time this season. Myron Newberry and Gerard Lewis have finally nailed down the cornerback spots, unless they go on missed-tackles and blown-coverage sprees. Both intercepted passes against LaTech last week, both tend to be in the right place at the right time, and both are tough little guys.
"The corners hardly make any mistakes," free safety Leonard Peters said. "They mix in really well. Sometimes young guys come in and want to do it their own way. Egos fly. But those two, and (strong safety Jake) Patek, have been doing good. Myron's just playing hard-nosed football. He and Gerard are the smallest guys on the field, but you can't stop them."
Defensive linemen Renolds Fruean (ankle) and Keala Watson (knee) might play after missing the last two games with injuries, Fruean more likely than Watson.
When Hawaii has the ball: The Warriors have enjoyed continuity along the offensive line, with the same five starters every game.
"Because most of it is pass blocking, our linemen are less vulnerable to injuries," said UH coach June Jones, who noted that his 9-4 team in 1999 had the same five starters for every game.
"We've just been doing our job up front," center Samson Satele said. "Colt and Nate and the receivers have been clicking."
Running back Nate Ilaoa is expected back after resting a tender ankle last week. That looks like a brilliant move by Jones, since the Warriors' leading scorer wasn't needed in UH's 61-17 win against LaTech, but he might be tonight.
Colt Brennan is in an interception "slump" (by his standards). He's thrown one in each of the last two games after going four entire games without any. He still sports a nation-pacing 43 touchdowns to seven picks.
With 60 yards tonight, sophomore Davone Bess joins junior Jason Rivers in UH's all-time top 10 for receiving yards.
Special teams: The Spartans have blocked only one kick this season, but historically it's one of Tomey's favorite plays.
Jones and Broussard are solid but not spectacular return men. The kicker, Jared Strubeck, has made four of five field goals in the 40-49 yard range.
UH's Kurt Milne had a strange game against LaTech. For the third time this season, he wasn't needed for his usual duty as a punter. This time though, he kicked off three times after Dan Kelly booted out of bounds three times in a row. Kelly, who normally booms kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, will get a chance to redeem himself tonight.
Ross Dickerson is No. 3 in the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 31.24 yards per. Newberry dashed for a 25-yard punt return last Saturday, his longest of the season.
Hawaii linebackers vs. San Jose St. RB Yonus Davis
Yonus Davis is among the nation's most underrated running backs. He averages 7.28 yards per carry and has 912 for the season, ranking him 16th in the country.
Davis, a high school teammate of UH slotback Davone Bess at Skyline (Oakland, Calif.), rushed for 71 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown last year in the Spartans' 45-38 loss to Hawaii.
Warriors linebacker Tyson Kafentzis and defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville remember him as strong for his size (5-7, 180 pounds) and elusive.
"He's tough," Kafentzis said. "He's a little big man. He's kind of like a spawn between (former UH running back) Michael Brewster and Davone Bess. He's huge for someone that height and he's fast, quick. Those guys are harder (to tackle) because they're so low to the ground. You can't even see 'em behind the O-linemen. Then once you see 'em, getting a hand on 'em (is hard) because they're so shifty. And plus, if they're strong, like he is, that's better than being 6-foot, 230."
Davis is "a challenge for anyone who's trying to tackle him," Glanville said.
"He's got great, we call it, avoidability. He can make the first guy miss, just about every time. I wish this one game we had a grass field, because he'll slip, he cuts so quick."