CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Colt Brennan and his Hawaii teammates got to practice side-by-side with Hawaii Bowl-bound Boise State yesterday.
BCS busters getting cozy
UH and Boise share the practice facility
» Dawgs tough test for O-line
For the Hawaii Warriors, some things are more fun with the Boise State Broncos working out a few feet away. UH broke practice a little louder than usual yesterday.
"It's even better when we say our yell, 'WAC champs.' We do it every day," senior cornerback Ryan Keomaka said. "For them to be right there and hear it is pretty cool."
The Hawaii football and soccer practice fields were bizzaro world yesterday, as the WAC rivals practiced next to each other: the Warriors for the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl and the Broncos for Sunday's Hawaii Bowl.
There wasn't a whole lot of path crossing, but there were some curious stares and acknowledging nods.
Several reunions, though, involved Boise State director of football operations Keith Bhonapha and UH players. Bhonapha played at Hawaii and was a graduate assistant for the Warriors.
"He used to drill me. It was good stuff, and we're still doing it today," Keomaka said. "He's a real good coach and a real good person."
Bhonapha is the only man with a connection to both of the WAC's BCS busting programs.
He helped get UH star slotback Davone Bess to become a Warrior.
They didn't talk after Hawaii's 39-27 victory over Boise State on Nov. 23.
"We kind of spoiled and shattered their little dreams," Bess said.
The two graduates of Skyline High in Oakland, Calif., greeted one another warmly yesterday.
"I'm waiting for you," Bhonapha said to Bess with a big grin. "I don't want to step on your shine."
Dawgs tough test for O-line
By Dave Reardon
The Hawaii offensive line reached its high and low points in the same game this season.
When UH played Fresno State on Nov. 10, the Warriors dominated scrimmage early, building a 24-7 first-quarter lead.
In the second half, though, quarterback and team MVP Colt Brennan was sacked and knocked unconscious by the Bulldogs' Marcus Riley. The UH offensive linemen took it hard. They felt they'd let down their quarterback and their team.
Left tackle Keith AhSoon tried to blame himself, but Brennan wouldn't let him.
"We talked about it," AhSoon said. "I told him, 'My bad.' He just told me, 'Don't worry, it's not your fault, it's my fault.' We always try to point at ourselves, that's why I love this team.
"I appreciate what he said to me because it made me comfortable that he still trusts me. That's the best feeling in football, when your teammate trusts you."
Brennan will put his trust in AhSoon, Hercules Satele, John Estes and Keoni Steinhoff for the 13th time when the Warriors (12-0) play Georgia (10-2) in the Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on Jan. 1. They take on one of the better defensive lines in the country in ends Roderick Battle and Marcus Howard and tackles Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins.
They're the first wave of a UGA defense that produced 34 sacks. UH center John Estes said the group looks on tape to be better than any other D-line the Warriors have faced this season.
"They have a combination of size, strength and speed," Estes said. "Most teams, one guy will be quick, but he won't be strong. Vice versa. But these guys, all four, they can change up with swim, speed rush, they can bull you."
Steinhoff said the fact that the Dawgs are tall along the front doesn't bother him.
"To me, the height doesn't really matter. Sometimes the taller they are the easier they are to block. It's just going to be a matter of getting off the ball faster and staying in front of them the whole time."
The Warriors have allowed 27 sacks this season, and given Brennan and the other Hawaii quarterbacks the time to throw 606 passes.
"Our tackles are good players, but everybody's got a challenge this game," coach June Jones said. "Those defensive ends can rush. So can the DTs. The O-line is going to be challenged. They'll play hard. They started off a little slow against Washington and then played really well."
Having a month to prepare helps an offensive line more than the defensive line, Estes said.
"I would say (advantage) for us, just because we don't really give away what we do pre-snap," he said. "Watching tape, they're straightforward. They're going to show up and say, 'Can you block us?' We had good games, but we had breakdowns almost every game. It's time for us to have a game that everything goes right for us."
Estes said UH needs to keep Brennan on his feet from beginning to end.
"Fresno, first half we were blocking so well. Then the low point was when Colt got hurt," the All-WAC center said. "That's the life of an offensive lineman. You might be kicking someone's (butt) the whole game. One play he beats you or you slip and he gets a sack, and then everyone is, 'So-and-so had a bad game.' Even though you had your way with him the whole game."
Bo Levi Mitchell, one of the top two quarterbacks in passing efficiency in Texas, committed to accept a scholarship from Hawaii on Monday, sources said.
Mitchell is 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds. He plays for undefeated Katy High School, the alma mater of UH defensive back Ryan Mouton.
Katy plays in the state 5A championship game this weekend.
The Fox network is in town this week, filming segments for use with its Sugar Bowl coverage.
Yesterday, starting receivers Davone Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullins, C.J. Hawthorne and Jason Rivers were taped.
Another shoot last night featured Heisman finalist Brennan at Diamond Head.
On Monday, 10 players were taped for another segment on the ha'a.
UH players and coaches will be available for autographs on Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. at the UH soccer field, adjacent to the football practice field.
Brennan's autograph will be limited to one item with his signature only per person. Items will not be personalized or include special notes. In order to accommodate as many fans as possible with autographs, he will not pose for photographs.
This is the last time before the Sugar Bowl that UH players and coaches will be available for autographs.
Practices are closed to the public.