RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
San Jose State's Jason Evans brought down Hawaii running back Nate Ilaoa during the third quarter last night. SJSU held the Warriors to 20 points in the first half, a season-low at home.
Tomey knows defense when he sees it
And the former UH coach was impressed with the Warriors on that side of the ball
Most opposing coaches leave Aloha Stadium singing the praises of Hawaii's offense.
Not Dick Tomey. The San Jose State coach was more impressed with Hawaii's defense last night after the Warriors' 54-17 blowout victory.
"Frankly, I thought their offense was about the same as last year," Tomey said. "It was as much about the defense as anything. The defense was the major difference."
Tomey's defense started out pretty well, too. The Spartans gave the nation's leading offense more trouble than it's accustomed to in the first half, holding Hawaii to 20 points before the break -- the lowest total by the Warriors at Aloha Stadium this year.
The key to SJSU's early-game success was two-fold. With ball-control offense, the Spartans limited Hawaii to five possessions in the first 30 minutes. Secondly, the SJSU defensive unit buckled down twice, forcing the Warriors to kick two field goals in addition to UH's two touchdowns.
Even more impressive (in comparison to other recent visiting teams that get routed much earlier) was San Jose State was in striking distance, 20-10, heading into the second half. But, after hanging around all the way until 27-17 late in the third quarter, the optimism of a possible upset quickly evaporated as the Warriors scored 27 unanswered points.
"That's not impressive," Tomey said. "We got our asses kicked. We were in the game for a while, but we were trying to win it. They (the Warriors) are much better than we are."
Tomey blamed the loss on getting manhandled at the line of scrimmage.
"Their guys (on the line) whipped our guys and that's what wins," he said. "They kicked our butts up front. And three turnovers on three straight possessions (two fumbles and an interception in the second half), that'll kill ya. They outcoached us and outplayed us."
SJSU senior left guard Marcel Burrough was in the firing line of Hawaii's hungry defense that held the Spartans to 192 scrimmage yards.
"They out-physicaled us," he said. "It wasn't that close. When it was 20-10, we were lucky to be in the game. We didn't move the ball like we should have. They (the UH defenders) were doing some really loud talking after they made plays and maybe we let it rattle us. We weren't doing the right things. We just handed it to them. It was like we said to them, 'Here's the ball, you want it?' "
Tomey, who is known as a defense-minded coach, would prefer not to have three freshmen starting in his defensive line.
"We've been scrambling (this year) to be a good defensive team," he said.
Tomey was highly impressed with UH safety Leonard Peters.
"He makes a big difference," he said. "He's such a savvy guy."
As for his thoughts about the future of his own team, which is sitting at 6-4 and within reach of a winning record with games left at Idaho and at home against Fresno State, Tomey said, "We're a family trying to finish the season with a smile on our faces and we didn't have one tonight."