Hawaii recognizes WSU has potential for upset


POSTED: Saturday, November 29, 2008

The numbers appear to add up in Hawaii's favor.

The Warriors face a Washington State team that has just two wins and ranks 103rd or lower in 13 categories nationally, placing next to last in scoring offense and defense.

Those stats contribute to Hawaii entering today's matchup as a 28 1/2 -point favorite.

But the only figure that really matters to the Warriors is one—as in the number of wins they need to qualify for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

“;We're not going to look at any team's record or anything like that,”; Warriors linebacker Solomon Elimimian said. “;We're going to look at every team as a threat. They're trying to take something away from us.”;

The Warriors enter the game at less than full strength, with Kealoha Pilares, Hawaii's leading touchdown producer, and defensive back Ryan Mouton out with injuries.

They won't get much sympathy from Washington State, which has struggled with injuries throughout coach Paul Wulff's first season. But the Cougars' spirits got a boost with a dramatic win in last week's Apple Cup game with rival Washington.

“;Hopefully there's a level of confidence that should build off of that,”; Wulff said.

The following is a look at the matchup as Hawaii aims for its first three-game winning streak of the season:

When Hawaii has the ball: In reviewing quarterback Greg Alexander's progress of late, Hawaii coach Greg McMackin pointed to the junior's increased comfort in throwing the ball downfield.

Alexander enters the week with a streak of 118 consecutive passes without an interception, and hit two deep throws for touchdowns to Malcolm Lane in last week's win over Idaho, including an 82-yarder. He averaged 18.9 yards per completion last week, up from 12.1 in his previous three games.

“;He understands the offense now,”; Hawaii head coach McMackin said. “;You can see now he's starting to hit deep things. Before it was shorter things, now he's going on top.”;

Daniel Libre and Aaron Bain had been rotating with Pilares, who shuttled between running back and slotback, and have six touchdowns between them in the last two games.





Washington State linebacker Greg Trent leads the Cougars with 86 tackles, including 10 1/2 for losses. But the Cougars, who have given up 58 points or more six times, haven't put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, coming up with just 11 sacks in 12 games.

“;We're going to be truly tested,”; Wulff said. “;They're very committed to (the passing game) and we have to be good at trying to keep things in front of us and not allow a lot of big plays.”;

When Washington State has the ball: Injuries have hampered a Cougars offense that was shut out in three of the past five games.

Two quarterbacks, Gary Rogers (neck) and Marshall Lobbestael (knee), suffered season-ending injuries. Kevin Lopina, who came back from a back injury early in the season and a concussion against Arizona State two weeks ago, is looking for his first touchdown pass of the season against 11 interceptions.

Running backs Dwight Tardy and Logwone Mitz have carried the rushing load. They combined for 145 yards last week, 54 coming on a touchdown run by Mitz.

Receiver Brandon Gibson, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection last year, is Washington State's all-time leader in receiving yards and will face a UH secondary that came up with four turnovers last week, but could be missing two starters.

Injuries to Mouton and fellow safety Erik Robinson moved Desmond Thomas and Keao Monteilh back into the starting group and both came up with interceptions last week.

Special teams: Even if he doesn't get the ball, Malcolm Lane can positively impact Hawaii's field position. Lane ranks sixth in the country in kickoff returns, averaging just under 30 yards per return. His productivity prompted recent opponents to kick the ball short rather than put the ball in his hands.

“;Malcolm understands that. If we get the field position for him on offense, it's a shorter field. So he wins either way,”; UH special teams coach Ikaika Malloe said.

Aaron Bain will resume punt return duties after Pilares took a turn at that spot last week.

Washington State kicker Nico Grasu made three clutch kicks in the Cougars' Apple Cup win to earn Pac-10 special teams player of the week honors. He made a 28-yarder on the final play of regulation to force overtime, then made two more in the extra periods, the second giving Washington State its first win over an FBS opponent this season.






Hawaii front four vs. Washington State O-line

After recording eight sacks in their first seven games, the Warriors have 19 in the last four, seven coming from the line in last week's win over Idaho.

UH head coach Greg McMackin called off the blitz early on. The front four's ability to control the line of scrimmage left the linebackers free to flow to the ball and helped limit Idaho to 1.2 rushing yards per carry. The pressure also contributed to three interceptions.

Tackles Keala Watson and Josh Leonard controlled the middle of the line, while David Veikune and John Fonoti are playmakers off the edge.

They'll face a Washington State line that hasn't had much chance to develop continuity in starting seven different combinations this season. The Cougars have surrendered 38 sacks for 311 yards in losses.

Center Kenny Alfred and right tackle Micah Hannam are the only linemen who have started all 12 games this season. Vaughn Lesuma, who is from Laie, has started the last four games at left tackle.



HawaiiCategoryWASH. ST.
6.5Rushing first downs/game5.6
10.4Passing first downs/game7.0
1.7First downs by penalty/game1.6
13-230Interceptions-return yards9-118
39.6Punting avg.39.9
35%Third-down conversion rate27%
45%Fourth-down conversion rate53%



Dwight Tardy, WSU1204283.62
Logwone Mitz, WSU773895.13
Daniel Libre, UH793784.85
Kealoha Pilares, UH542815.25

Kevin Lopina, WSU14785118180
M. Lobbestael, WSU1035345714
Inoke Funaki, UH16895121,1196
Greg Alexander, UH1308421,0448

Brandon Gibson, WSU5665511.72
Jeshua Anderson, WSU333059.22
Mike Washington, UH4554812.24
Greg Salas, UH4159314.52

Greg Trent, WSU50368610.5/1
Xavier Hicks, WSU4529741/0
Romeo Pellum, WSU4914632/0
Chima Nwachukwu, WSU3125560.5/0
Solomon Elimimian, UH4744919/2.5
Adam Leonard, UH3629656/1
David Veikune, UH40206013.5/6.5
Jameel Dowling, UH3820582.5/1.5

2-10 (1-8 Pac-10)

X85Jeshua Anderson6-2186So.
F29Kevin Norrell5-9180Fr.
LT55Vaughn Lesmua6-4323Sr.
LG78Steven Ayers6-4311Fr.
C69Kenny Alfred6-2300Jr.
RG72B.J. Guerra6-3293Fr.
RT76Micah Hannam6-4284So.
TE80Devin Frischknecht6-3251Sr.
Z4Brandon Gibson6-1200Sr.
QB9Kevin Lopina6-3228Jr.
RB31Dwight Tardy5-11201Jr.
LE93Kevin Kooyman6-6247Jr.
LT92A'i Ahmu6-0280Sr.
RT90Toby Turpin6-6276So.
RE58Matt Mullennix6-6253Sr.
WLB46Louis Bland5-10203Fr.
MLB52Greg Trent5-11230Sr.
SLB38Cory Evans6-2235Sr.
LCB10Romeo Pellum5-10179So.
SS21Chima Nwachukwu5-11197So.
FS26Xavier Hicks6-0196Jr.
RCB6Markus Dawes5-11197Sr.
KO28Patrick Rooney5-11190Jr.
PK18Nico Grasu6-1195So.
P8Reid Forrest6-0183So.
KR29Kevin Norrell5-9180Fr.
PR29Kevin Norrell5-9180Fr.
H8Reid Forrest6-0183So.
LS63Zach Enyeart6-0263So.


Aug. 30Oklahoma StateL, 39-13
Sept. 6CaliforniaL, 66-3
Sept. 12at BaylorL, 45-17
Sept. 20Portland StateW, 48-9
Sept. 27OregonL, 63-14
Oct. 4at UCLAL, 28-3
Oct. 11at Oregon StateL, 66-13
Oct. 18USCL, 69-0
Nov. 1at StanfordL, 58-0
Nov. 8ArizonaL, 59-28
Nov. 15at Arizona StateL, 31-0
Nov. 22WashingtonW, 16-13

Todayat Hawaii

6-5 (5-3 WAC)

Z89Malcolm Lane6-1180Jr.
H5Mike Washington5-9170Sr.
LT77Aaron Kia6-5290Jr.
LG50Laupepa Letuli6-4320Jr.
C55John Estes6-2295Jr.
RG51Lafu Tuioti-Mariner6-0300Sr.
RT78Keoni Steinhoff6-3295Sr.
Y85Aaron Bain5-8190Sr.
X1Greg Salas6-2200So.
QB12Greg Alexander6-3230Jr.
RB48David Farmer6-2245Sr.
DE94David Veikune6-3265Sr.
DT93Keala Watson6-3320Sr.
DT99Josh Leonard6-3305Sr.
DE58John Fonoti6-2255Jr.
STUB44Adam Leonard6-0235Sr.
MLB17Solomon Elimimian6-0225Sr.
BUCK13Brashton Satele6-1255Jr.
CB3Jameel Dowling6-3200Sr.
FS24Desmond Thomas6-2170Sr.
SS35Keao Monteilh5-11200Sr.
CB23Calvin Roberts5-11175Sr.
K86Dan Kelly6-3225Sr.
P49Tim Grasso5-11210Sr.
KR89Malcolm Lane6-1180Jr.
PR85Aaron Bain5-8190Sr.
LS57Jake Ingram6-4235Sr.
H49Tim Grasso5-11210Sr.


Aug. 30at FloridaL, 56-10
Sept. 6Weber StateW, 36-17
Sept. 13at Oregon StateL, 45-7
Sept. 27San Jose StateL, 20-17
Oct. 4at Fresno StateW, 32-29 OT
Oct. 11Louisiana TechW, 24-14
Oct. 17at Boise StateL, 27-7
Oct. 25NevadaW, 38-31
Nov. 1at Utah StateL, 30-14
Nov. 8at New Mexico StateW, 42-30
Nov. 15IdahoW, 49-17
TodayWashington State
Dec. 6Cincinnati