Kelly cool under pressure
RENO, Nev. » The weather was fairly warm here Friday, in the 50s at game time.
But the Iceman was totally chill.
That's Hawaii kicker Dan Kelly, who treated Nevada coach Chris Ault like Matt Damon's character in "Rounders" did to John Malkovich's: "I can stay and bust you up all night if you like."
This was 45-yard field goals to win a game, not a movie scene about playing heads-up Texas Hold 'em against a Russian gangster. But the idea was the same. Mess with me and it just gets worse for you.
The veteran Wolf Pack coach tried the latest trend in football, icing a kicker after he kicks it by calling a timeout at just the right time.
It didn't work against Kelly, who claims to be oblivious to pressure, until after the event.
Kelly's first try barely made it, and it looked like 13th-ranked UH had come from behind to reach 10-0 and 7-0 in the WAC. But then Ault's well-timed timeout meant Kelly and the UH field goal team had to line up and do it again.
This time Kelly smacked it true, a kick that would've easily been good from at least 60 yards.
Hawaii wins, 28-26, thanks to the Iceman.
"It's an old nickname from back when I played club soccer. It's stuck with me from the time I was a freshman in high school. It died when I came to the rock, the islands, because no one else knew it," Kelly said.
It's back now.
Of course there was more to it Friday, including quarterback Tyler Graunke's solid performance in place of Colt Brennan, and a defensive plan that took away just enough of Nevada's forte, the running game, and exposed its weakness, the pass.
"Greg (defensive coordinator McMackin) had a pretty good game plan," UH coach June Jones said. "We felt like we wanted to make them pass. They're one of the best running teams in the country. So we loaded up the box and had guys on (Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick)."
Graunke said he tried to keep it simple, especially on the final drive from the UH 12 to get into Iceman range.
"Just trying to get it out quick, be accurate, get first downs and stop the clock," said Graunke
The Warriors won without Brennan (in for only two plays), who suffered a concussion last week against Fresno State.
"It's unbelievable how we played together tonight," Graunke said. "(When Kelly lined up for his kicks) everybody was just saying, 'Gotta believe, gotta believe.' That's the motto for this team."