Warriors look unprepared for the big stage
NEW ORLEANS » The Fox Network might ask Herman Frazier for its money back after last night's less-than-titillating performance by Hawaii.
From the opening drive on which the Warriors' first two plays were delay of game and false start, it was clear they were not ready for a command performance. All the fears June Jones had about his football team freezing up on one of the biggest stages in America were realized as the No. 4-ranked Georgia Bulldogs plowed under the Warriors 41-10 in last night's Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Colt Brennan didn't resemble a Heisman Trophy finalist, fumbling twice after sacks and throwing three interceptions to set up three touchdowns for the Bulldogs, who didn't need his help.
Spending much of the evening dodging linemen, who took advantage of Hawaii's silent count by firing off the football on every play, Brennan rarely found his rhythm. Georgia's front seven came hard off the ball, but it was the secondary that deserves much of the credit.
When Brennan is on, it's one-two-three throw, but many times last night, it was one-two-three, nobody open and the O-line couldn't get him to four. By then, Brennan was either ducking for cover or getting knocked around like a bad boxer. He was sacked five times in the first half alone.
Most folks with a balanced view were not surprised by this outcome. What makes the Cinderella story so charming is it doesn't happen often. Georgia had a month to prepare and Hawaii had a month to grow stale, not a good combination against a team that played more BCS opponents this season than Hawaii has the past four years.
In the pregame warm-up, Brennan looked cool, calm and collected as he hit his receivers against air time after time. But when the lights came up at the famed Superdome and the Bulldogs took their cues from defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, Brennan was extraordinarily ordinary.
BY THE HALF, most of the country had switched from this pumpkin to their local news, leaving the other mid-majors wondering if they'd ever be invited to the party again. Many believed Brennan had enough of the right stuff to overcome any obstacles Georgia threw at him, but they were wrong.
Brennan spent most of the second half fighting to stay alive as Hawaii's tackles looked as if it was their first day of practice. Time and again, they got beat off the edge, leaving Brennan exposed as Georgia's Marcus Howard pounded him into submission with three of the eight sacks.
One of the drawbacks of the run-and-shoot is not having a tight end to protect the quarterback, especially in obvious passing situations. Martinez took advantage of the O-line's less-than-stellar play and the secondary did its part by limiting the yards after catch.
Everything Martinez asked of his unit, he got. The Georgia fans also did their part in the first and third quarters when Hawaii was on that end of the field where thousands made so much noise, Brennan couldn't hear himself think. By the time he escaped, this game was over and Hawaii was down for the count.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org