McMackin says short week will not be a factor in Reno
Hawaii defensive coordinator Greg McMackin realizes he has to do more with less.
With the Warriors' nationally televised game at Nevada bumped up to tomorrow to accommodate ESPN2, UH (9-0, 6-0 WAC) faces several challenges in remaining undefeated for a two-game stretch run at home against Boise State and Washington.
Besides the questionable status of Colt Brennan and the absence of leading rusher Kealoha Pilares, who didn't take yesterday's team flight to Reno because of an injured right knee, there was simply less time to prepare against the Wolf Pack. Then there's the cold weather factor, which coach June Jones figures to remedy with "heaters on the bench."
But McMackin will make no excuses about the No. 13 Warriors' final regular-season road game, especially regarding the quick turnaround from a physical Fresno State contest.
"This is a Thursday for us because we lose a day," he said of yesterday's team practice, "(but) we worked on Nevada during the bye week (before Fresno State). So, we broke down the film and looked at what they did and plan, then compare it to what they've done. We've had enough time, it's just the players getting refreshed. I think we've had a chance to be prepared."
McMackin lavished praise on Nevada junior running back Luke Lippincott, who is tops in the conference in rushing yards per game at 117.1, and respects the dual threat of freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has shown a propensity for both the run and pass.
Nevada is ninth nationally in total offense at more than 494 yards per game. Hawaii is third at more than 534, and also leads the WAC in rushing defense.
"I think (Lippincott) is a great player, a great downhill player," McMackin said. "He hits it hard, and doesn't stop. I think he's a (former Dallas Cowboys great) Walt Garrison, hard-nosed running back. He's got 1,000 yards, and they throw to him a little bit. I think he's one of the best runners in the country."
Meanwhile, offensive line coach Dennis McKnight was wary of the Wolf Pack defensive front, calling them "probably the best D-line we'll play." He knows the Pack's D-line coach, Jim House, and his team's tenacious game plan.
"Their ends are up the field, and if you lean on them they'll spin back inside on you," he said. "Their inside guys press the pocket and are relentless like junkyard dogs, which is what you want."
Brennan up for Johnny U.
Quarterback Colt Brennan
was named yesterday as one of five candidates for the Johnny Unitas Award, along with Oregon's Dennis Dixon
, Kentucky's Andre Woodson
, Boston College's Matt Ryan
and Louisville's Brian Brohm
The award, in its 21st year, honors the top quarterback in the country. Past recipients include Peyton Manning, Eli Manning,Matt Leinart and last year's winner Brady Quinn of Notre Dame.
Freshman safety Kenny Estes
wore an arm sling yesterday at practice and didn't make the team's flight to Reno. The Waimea graduate will be replaced by sophomore Viliami Nauahi
on the trip. Meanwhile, sophomore backup receiver Malcolm Lane
sat out practice, but did accompany the team.
The Star-Bulletin's Jason Kaneshiro contributed to this report.