Hawaii getting healthy
» Hawaii threatening Boise State’s rule
Hawaii starting defensive tackle Fale Laeli was expected to practice today after an X-ray on his ribs showed no damage that would keep him out of Friday's game against Boise State.
Laeli came out of last Friday's game after getting hit in the ribs early on at Nevada.
"He called me and said he'll be OK," defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said yesterday. "We'll probably be light on him but he'll practice (today)."
Laeli has 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries this season.
Keala Watson stepped in admirably in the 28-26 win, forcing a key fumble in the fourth quarter and falling on the ball to get the No. 14 Warriors another possession.
"We've been playing 10 linemen, so Keala came in and we didn't miss a beat," McMackin said. "He came out of the stack, went in on the hit, and got the fumble, which was big time. Keala played really well."
Team captain and right tackle Mike Lafaele, who was knocked out a portion of the game when a Nevada player undercut him, was back practicing in drills yesterday.
"He's fine, he's fine," McMackin said. "He actually, I think, had his best ballgame. He went off the ball, and I think what he did really disrupted Nevada's offense."
Also, running back Kealoha Pilares returned to practice yesterday after missing the last two games with a knee sprain. Pilares is UH's leading rusher with 305 yards and three touchdowns in eight games.
Hawaii threatening Boise State’s rule
The mutual respect is there.
The wins on one side of the equation aren't.
Since Boise State joined the Western Athletic Conference in 2001, the Broncos have made a mockery of the rest of the league in compiling a 52-3 conference record -- including a 6-0 mark against Hawaii -- on the way to winning or sharing the last five WAC championships.
The parking gates will open at 11:30 a.m. at Aloha Stadium on Friday, with the Lower Halawa Lot opening at 10:30 a.m. Parking is $5. Alternate parking is available at Leeward Community College and Kam Drive-In. Stadium turnstiles open at 1 p.m. for the 4:05 p.m. kickoff.
Two Boise State players have been ruled out of Friday's game.
Freshman starting safety Jeron Johnson, who is third on the team in tackles per game (6.3), has a hip injury.
Also, No. 3 running back D.J. Harper has a fractured ankle. Harper has carried 84 times for 373 yards and five touchdowns.
But with an outright WAC title on the line Friday and No. 14 Hawaii posing perhaps its biggest threat to the No. 17 Broncos' reign yet, Boise State coach Chris Petersen is weighing every option and contingency.
That might include planning for a return appearance of backup quarterback Tyler Graunke, but Hawaii coach June Jones voiced confidence in a full-fledged appearance from starter Colt Brennan yesterday. Brennan played just two downs against Nevada in recovering from a concussion incurred against Fresno State the week prior.
"Coach Jones, they run their offense, they do what they do," Petersen said yesterday via conference call. "We're pretty confident Colt is gonna get in there."
Boise State stunned the college football world with its 43-42 Fiesta Bowl overtime victory over Oklahoma last year, and is trying to get back into the BCS party despite an early-season loss at Washington. Hawaii (10-0, 7-0 WAC) is currently 15th in the BCS standings, while Boise State (10-1, 7-0) is 19th. A WAC team would need a top-12 BCS finish, or top-16 finish and higher position than a BCS conference champion, to qualify for one of the five lucrative bowls.
Before either can worry about that, though, the WAC title must be secured.
"We're just worried about, this is a completely different (Boise) team than in the past," Petersen said. "This is about this year and now, and we're just totally focused on playing our best against Hawaii."
Jones is equally intense about what many consider the most important game in Hawaii history.
"We were hoping to get it to this game and this situation all year, just like they were the same way, so it'll be a heck of a football game," Jones said.
Petersen expects another high-scoring shootout, following wins of 44-41 and 41-34 the last two years. Hawaii had its chances in both games, but special teams miscues hindered the Warriors each time. The latter defeat was Hawaii's last WAC loss; the Warriors have rattled off 14 straight conference wins since.
"Hawaii, they score a heck of a lot of points (NCAA best 48.0)," Petersen said. "We're going to have to get some things done on offense, which is so challenging because Hawaii's playing as good defense as anybody out there."
Boise State's Heisman Trophy candidate, Ian Johnson, missed some time earlier this year with a bruised kidney, but is now fully healthy. He posted 108 yards and two touchdowns in the Broncos' 58-14 win against Idaho last week.
"If you're gonna be a good team it's not about one guy," Petersen said of both of the WAC's poster boys -- Johnson and Brennan -- missing time for their teams. "Certain positions get a lot of attention, but if you're gonna have a really good team, you're gonna have a lot of good players. At certain times, guys get banged up, and other guys gotta step up and carry the flag, and I think both teams have had that happen."