RIGHT: COURTESY OF NMSU
Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan and New Mexico State signal-caller Chase Holbrook are two of the top passers in the nation, which could make for a shootout when the Warriors and Aggies meet tomorrow night at Aloha Stadium.
Hawaii’s DBs will be tested often
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The Hawaii secondary might need all the depth it can muster tomorrow night as the 16th-ranked Warriors (7-0, 4-0 WAC) face the Aggies of New Mexico State (4-4, 1-2).
New Mexico State (4-4, 1-2 WAC) at No. 16 Hawaii (7-0, 4-0)
When: Tomorrow, 6:05 p.m..
Where: Aloha Stadium
TV: Oceanic PPV Ch. 255
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Coach June Jones said after yesterday's practice that junior Ryan Mouton will be available to help try to stall quarterback Chase Holbrook and coach Hal Mumme's Air Raid offense. NMSU is seventh nationally and second in the WAC with 316.9 yards per game. Hawaii is second in the country and first in the conference with 464.4.
"He's going to play in the game," Jones said of Mouton, who missed the last two with a sprained knee. "We'll spot him."
Starting linebacker Adam Leonard was out yesterday with the flu, but Jones said the junior playmaker will be ready to play tomorrow. Leonard has returned two interceptions for touchdowns this season, and recovered a San Jose State fumble two weeks ago that helped the Warriors beat the Spartans in overtime.
After a lethargic Monday practice following a bye week, Jones said the team has picked up the pace.
"We had two good days and today was really sharp," the coach said yesterday.
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Shootouts are fun for the fans, but quarterbacks don't always enjoy them as much as you might think.
Just ask Colt Brennan of 16th-ranked Hawaii. He matches spirals tomorrow with another guy with a name that sounds like it could belong to a Wild West gunfighter -- New Mexico State's Chase Holbrook.
The Warriors (7-0, 4-0 WAC) lead the nation in scoring with 52.1 points per game, and are 27-point favorites. But the Aggies (4-4, 1-2) know the way to the end zone, too. NMSU averages 25.5 points per game, including a game against Boise State in which Holbrook did not play and the Aggies were shut out. But Holbrook and his 303.3 passing yards per game will be on the field tomorrow at Aloha Stadium.
"As a quarterback, I don't know if I look forward to being in a situation where the other team has the potential to score a lot of points," Brennan said. "You just have to go in there trying to outplay them. From the offensive standpoint, they're talented and we're talented. You're probably going to see a lot of yards and a lot of points."
Brennan set passing records last season and was sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. But he still gets labeled by some as a quarterback who benefits from a passing system. So he has empathy for Holbrook, who suffers from the same stigma.
"Obviously he's a kid who is a lot better quarterback than he gets credit for," Brennan said.
Last year in Las Cruces, N.M., the Brennan-Holbrook matchup resulted in a 49-30 win for the Warriors, as Brennan passed for 330 yards and five touchdowns and Holbrook 323 and three. Two turnovers late in the game by NMSU helped make the difference.
Despite a tender right ankle that has bothered him most of the season, Brennan continues to put up big numbers. He is second nationally in total offense (405.5) and passing yards (399.2) per game. He has 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
But Brennan doesn't feel the Warriors have lived up to expectations offensively yet.
"We haven't really had an outstanding game," he said. "We've made mistakes and been fortunate to overcome them with big plays."
The bye week was good for his ankle. But like the rest of the Warriors, Brennan is ready to get back into action.
"We're dying to get out there," he said.
Starting linebacker Adam Leonard
was sidelined with the flu yesterday, but Cal Lee
's crew stepped it up anyway with what the unit's coach said was its best practice of the year.
"Today, we probably tackled the best, as a group, as any day," Lee said. "And that's a good sign. If we can carry it through to the game, we'll be in good shape. The form, the technique, the intensity. I told them we need to take this to the game and we'll be fine."
He said no one player stood out.
"Overall," Lee said. "You couldn't tell who was the starter, who was the backup, who was the star, who was the walk-on."
UH senior wide receiver Jason Rivers
leads the nation in most consecutive games with a catch. Hawaii's career leader in receptions and receiving yards has snagged at least one pass in the last 43 games he's played in, going back to 2003.
The No. 2 man in the country on that list will also be playing at Aloha Stadium tomorrow night. New Mexico State's Brandon Allen has caught a pass in 37 consecutive games played.