Surprisingly, UH’s running made large impact
LAS VEGAS » It wasn't exactly the wishbone, but Hawaii ran the ball way more last night in its 49-14 victory at UNLV than is expected from June Jones' flying circus.
UH rushed 29 times for 96 yards, with freshman Kealoha Pilares leading the way with 11 carries for 62 yards. Pilares also turned a short pass into a 41-yard gain.
Sophomore Leon Wright-Jackson had 19 yards on just three carries, but added 38 yards on three shovel passes.
"They were solid," running backs coach Wes Suan said. "It's good to learn in a win like this."
Quarterback Colt Brennan's nine rushes for 19 net yards included a personal-record three touchdowns, some scrambling and a sack -- all on a bad ankle.
The rushing TDs, especially two of Brennan's that didn't add up to 1 yard together -- were more circumstantial than game plan, Jones said.
"They were situations where they were 4 inches to go," he said. "If it had been a yard I would have probably thrown it. Being that close you've got to do what you've got to do."
UH ran the ball on six of the 11 plays of its first scoring drive and three of the five plays on its go-ahead drive.
"We know we have to run the ball to control the pass rush," Jones said. "Screens are good for that, too. At one point we had seven straight screens."
Since bringing the run-and-shoot offense to Hawaii, Jones has maintained that if the running back position produces 100 yards on the ground, that's all he needs to be successful. The Warriors fell only 4 yards shy of that mark last night. They gained only 37 yards in the season-opening win over Northern Colorado and 45 vs. Louisiana Tech in the Western Athletic Conference opener.
Suan said it's the old take-what-they-give-you approach. And last night, UNLV was willing to give up the underneath routes in the passing game and the short gains on the ground.
"It's just June observing the whole game plan and attacking the weakness," Suan said. "If they rush four and defend the pass, that helps the running game."