STAR-BULLETIN FILE / 2007
UH coach June Jones recognizes an intricate passing offense when he sees one.
UH’s Jones says Pats’ offense looks Warrior-like
When June Jones tuned in to the hyped NFL matchup of undefeated New England and Indianapolis on Sunday, he immediately noticed something familiar.
"So, I find it interesting now when I turn on the game, (New England) is running our offense," the Hawaii football coach said with a wry grin at the podium of the weekly Honolulu Quarterback Club luncheon. "(Patriots coach Bill Belichick) kind of learned what it takes to move the football."
Jones had been asked what he thought of Belichick, whose placid and stoic demeanor was compared to his own.
The coach paused and weighed the question, proving the analogy somewhat justified.
"He's kind of a cerebral guy, who watches and studies," Jones said, then added that in several games coaching with the Houston Oilers (as an assistant) and later as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, he had never lost to a Belichick-coached team.
"When I got my head job at Atlanta (1994-96), he was the head coach at Cleveland," Jones said. "We would go to Cleveland and spend two weeks there and practice against him. The reason he wanted to practice against us was because he couldn't stop us, and he kind of always wanted to know and watch how we did things."
Jones will take his same run-and-shoot offense against Pat Hill's Fresno State Bulldogs this Saturday at Aloha Stadium. Hill, coincidentally, was a Browns assistant under Belichick in the mid-90s.
While Jones likes to air it out, stopping Hill's smashmouth-style running game will be paramount for the Warriors -- one of only three undefeated Division I teams in the nation -- in making a run at a Bowl Championship Series bowl game over the final four weeks of the regular season.
Jones, in full-blown NFL-reminisce mode, made another analogy to his days in the NFL.
"This is kind of a playoff run, when I was in the NFL, at this point usually in early December or late November, you had to win four in a row to stay alive," he said. "That's kind of what it feels like right now. We've got four big games, and three at home (Fresno State, Boise State and Washington). The kids are pretty focused and have been able to put everything in perspective from week to week."
The focus did indeed seem to be there at practice yesterday from receivers Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne, recent invitees to the Hawaii-based Hula Bowl, along with offensive lineman Hercules Satele. They weren't daunted by the fact that the Warriors dropped two spots in this week's BCS rankings (from 14 to 16) after the bye week.
Hawaii needs a top-12 ranking in the BCS or a higher ranking than a BCS conference champion ranked in the top 16 to get into one of the coveted bowl games.
"We think (the drop) is kind of unfair sometimes, but honestly none of us really cares," Rivers said. "What we can control is on a weekly basis as far as how we play and perform. The focus for us is to win every weekend, and as long as we do that on our part then you can't really say much on what other people see how our schedule is (easy) and all that."
Hawthorne can't help but overhear the critics, but it adds a sense of motivation for him.
"We all love watching ESPN," he said. "I always see it as we're the underdogs anyways. Nobody believes in us but us. We know that's going to be the rap no matter what. Almost in a sense they're waiting for us to lose. We just have to realize we're gonna have that opposition."
Junior kicker Dan Kelly flew home to Temecula, Calif., for the day to attend his parents' wedding anniversary. Backup Briton Forester took over on the team's kickoff coverage drills at practice.
WAC gives weekly honors
Fresno State kick returner A.J. Jefferson was named the Western Athletic Conference's special teams player of the week yesterday. The sophomore returned three kicks for 158 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 38-27 win over Utah State last week.
Nevada's freshman quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, was named offensive player of the week for putting up 373 yards and five touchdowns against New Mexico State.
Louisiana Tech safety Antonio Baker notched the league's defensive award for amassing eight tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery in the Bulldogs' win over Idaho.