CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Oakland native Davone Bess should have a cheering section when the Warriors visit San Jose State on Friday.
UH boasts a Bay Area connection
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San Jose State (3-3, 2-0 WAC) will be an 18-point underdog, but sky-high Friday at home in anticipation of toppling No. 16 Hawaii (6-0, 3-0) and taking charge of the conference football championship race.
Spartans coach Dick Tomey said he expects a big crowd for the nationally televised game. But many of the fans will be cheering for Warriors from the Bay Area, like junior starting slotback Davone Bess.
Bess is from Oakland, where he was teammates with San Jose State running back Yonus Davis at Skyline High School. UNLV running back Frank "The Tank" Summers was also part of the backfield.
"We were unstoppable," Bess said. "We went undefeated my senior year."
UH has beaten San Jose State six games in a row, and is looking to improve its position in the polls with the first installment of the BCS standings coming out Sunday.
Bess, a two-time All-WAC performer, is on his way to another fine season with 41 catches to lead the Warriors for 496 yards and six touchdowns.
He is in the UH career top 10 in receiving yards, all-purpose yards and scoring and needs three touchdowns to catch the record 38 by Michael Carter and Chad Owens.
There's been talk Bess may leave UH a year early for the NFL Draft.
"I don't know. It's still up in the air," Bess said yesterday when asked about the possibility. "I haven't discussed it with Coach or my mom. Right now I'm just thinking about winning football games."
The Warriors were scheduled to leave for San Jose after this morning's practice.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Defensive captain Mike Lafaele expects to hit the field against this week against San Jose State.
When Hawaii plays a road football game, it's usually not a problem for hometown Warriors to get enough tickets for family and friends. Plenty of teammates normally have no use for their allotment of four free passes.
Not so with Friday's game at San Jose State.
"San Jose's the closest road game to Hawaii, so a lot of the (local) guys' families are flying over," said junior receiver Davone Bess, who is from Oakland. "I've got about 50 or so people coming and I've only got 10 tickets."
J.P. Davis is from San Francisco. His mother bought 20 tickets for the sophomore cornerback's friends and relatives.
"I'm ready," Davis said. "There'll be a bunch of little scatter rats out there."
In addition to Bess and Davis, sophomore running back Mario Cox, senior defensive end Francis Maka and junior cornerback Calvin Roberts are from the Bay Area and making the trip. The homes of sophomore center John Estes (Stockton) and junior running back David Farmer (Santa Cruz) are also within easy driving distance.
Bess hopes Spartans running back Yonus Davis, his backfield mate when Bess was quarterback at Skyline High School, is recovered enough from an ankle injury to play Friday.
"This is one of the games you wake up every day and count the days on your calendar -- going home, playing against your former teammate from high school," Bess said. "You want to go in there and not let the hype interfere with your focus and be humble and take nothing for granted because they're definitely going to try to knock us off."
The 16th-ranked Warriors (6-0, 3-0 WAC) are 18-point favorites to win their 11th consecutive conference game and seventh in a row against the Spartans (3-3, 2-0). The game is nationally televised, and starts at 2 p.m. Hawaii time.
Many of Estes' friends from Stockton will see it in person.
"Since I came out here (in 2005), I rarely get to go home. I'm pretty much home just for a month out of the year," he said. "A couple of weeks ago some of my friends saw Hawaii is coming to San Jose. They've been calling me up so I'm telling them to come to the game."
Roberts is from South San Francisco, and almost ended up playing for San Jose State. He's looking forward to greeting about 25 family and friends at the game, especially his 2 1/2 year old daughter, Layla.
"I haven't seen her since August," Roberts said.
Maka, Roberts and offensive lineman Ray Hisatake (who is redshirting) are graduates of San Mateo College, near San Jose.
Roberts recently moved up to No. 2 right cornerback and could see playing time with Ryan Mouton and Keenan Jones not making the trip.
"I found out I was on the trip (Monday) when they moved me up the depth charts," said Roberts, who was not on the 64-man travel roster for the first two trips. "They're working me in on special teams."
After further review
Greg McMackin said the Warriors defense didn't perform its best in Saturday's 52-37 victory over Utah State, but it wasn't terrible, either.
"If you look at the film, we gave up that 77-yard pass, which we haven't all year. Out of six games we gave up one big play, to a pretty good receiver (Kevin Robinson)," said McMackin, the UH defensive coordinator.
UH allowed 370 yards to the nation's 117th-ranked offense, and the Aggies scored 22 points more than their average. But one touchdown was on a kickoff return and 10 points were against the Warrior backups after the issue had been decided.
"The first unit played really well, had six sacks. At halftime they'd only given up two field goals," McMackin said. "I was disappointed when we put in the second unit they went down and scored on us. It maybe wasn't up to our expectation. You always want to get better. But if a person looked at the film, there's a lot of good things that happened."
Also, the Warriors played without defensive tackle Mike Lafaele, the defense's anchor and focal point.
"He makes a very big difference," UH linebackers coach Cal Lee said.
Lafaele was out with a strained hamstring. He practiced yesterday and Monday and is expected to play Friday.
The WAC's "other" QB
San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis is a proven veteran, pinpoint accurate passer, led his team to a bowl game last year and is tough and articulate. He's kind of like another WAC quarterback who gets a lot more attention.
Tafralis said he doesn't get tired of hearing and reading Colt Brennan's name.
"I'm very happy for the guy and wish him luck, except of course against us," Tafralis said. "It's good for the WAC to get media attention and I wish I was in the guy's spot. I'm not sick of hearing about him, I'm just excited to play against him."
Tafralis has completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,361 yards and thrown for 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Brennan's numbers are 73 percent, 1,850 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Sophomore outside linebacker Blaze Soares is expected to play quite a bit Friday. He was supposed to alternate series with starter Brad Kalilimoku last Saturday but did not because of a communication lapse. ... Brennan looked sharp at practice yesterday and his right ankle, sprained 25 days prior, did not seem to be bothering him. ... Junior reserve linebacker and special teams player Tyson Kafentzis was added to the travel roster yesterday. ... The Warriors were scheduled to arrive in San Jose tonight via a charter flight after this morning's practice.