Comeback win in opener is something to build on


POSTED: Saturday, September 05, 2009

This offense can be run without turnovers—we know, we've seen it.

And Greg Alexander promises we'll see it that way again. He says the run-and-shoot doesn't have to mean you give up the ball a lot.

“;Absolutely,”; the Hawaii quarterback said after the Warriors escaped with a 25-20 season-opening win over Central Arkansas last night. “;The fumbles, put those on me. The pick, that's on me, too.”;

Four turnovers in all, two lost fumbles by Alexander, one by Kealoha Pilares and an interception. It doesn't matter who you're playing. If you cough it up four times and get just one turnover back you are either very good, or very lucky to come out with a win.

“;It's a great sign,”; said coach Greg McMackin, who likely would've had a different opinion if the Warriors hadn't awoken from their first-half sleepwalk. “;(At halftime) I told the guys, the difference in this game is we have three turnovers and we haven't gotten any. It's the biggest key in football. To only be behind by one touchdown was a miracle. I knew if we were that close and we played that bad in the turnover game we would win the game.”;

Alexander said there's a general misconception of the run-and-shoot being a high-risk, high-reward scheme.

“;The offense is not really designed to take shots downfield every play. It's more about ball control, high-percentage passes, and you take a shot downfield once in a while,”; he said. “;There should be no turnovers.”;

Whether they're good or lucky, it's very unlikely they'll win another game in which they lose the turnover battle by three.

“;If we didn't turn the ball over, we win by 40-something,”; center John Estes said. “;When you have that many turnovers, you usually lose.”;

Alexander was sacked four times, but the line that had two first-time starters in guards Raphael Ieru and Ray Hisatake held firm in the fourth quarter when the Warriors needed it most.

“;We just had to buckle down,”; Ieru said. “;There was a lot of excitement starting for the first time. We were kind of on our own, so we had to become one, like we are in practice.”;

The first half reminded me of the loss to Portland State in 2000, minus the first few minutes in which UH dominated the I-AA Vikings. Things were so bad early last night, the Warriors actually fumbled twice on the same play. That time they were fortunate enough to recover.

After UH took control in the third quarter, Central Arkansas was supposed to just wilt away, go back home with its parting gift of a $125,000 payout and a few good memories of owning the early-going against the biggest name on its schedule.

But the Bears came back, forcing the Warriors to put together one final drive keyed by Greg Salas' wild 66-yard catch-and-run and capped by a perfectly executed Alexander-to-Rodney Bradley 8-yard TD pass.

Then the defense closed with a flourish, Corey Paredes forcing UCA quarterback Robbie Park to fumble, Richard Torres recovering. The tables had turned; the Bears' Larry Hart had stripped Alexander on the second play of the game, leading to the visitors' first score.

“;I'm proud of how we finished,”; McMackin said. “;Not how we started, how we finished. We can build on that.”;