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In football, ideas are resurrected, not invented


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POSTED: Saturday, September 12, 2009

SEATTLE » Football never really changes. It just keeps going around and around in a circle. Take that wildcat offense that's all the rage. Isn't that basically the same thing we all ran in the backyard as kids? Let your best all-around athlete have the ball and keep it, or try to do all kinds of tricky stuff off of it?

Remember June Jones' comment about Nevada's pistol, when he called it a modified version of the old single wing?

It's a big circle, no matter how much passing is brought into the game, no matter how spread out the X's and O's get, vertically and horizontally. We almost always end up back to the basics of running and stopping the run. That's what decides the outcomes, and that's what will likely determine the winner today when Hawaii and Washington State tangle at Qwest Field.

YOU WILL have your exceptions, of course, such as UH when the quarterback and receivers were so on top of things, so good because of talent and repetition, that it didn't matter if the Warriors could run the ball—for that matter, it often didn't matter if UH could stop the other team from running, either, as long as the defense came up with enough turnovers to offset the damage done by the opposing ground attack.

Let's go back 36 years, to the last time Hawaii played a football game in this city. UH stopped Washington on a late goal-line stand to win 10-7. The Huskies ran four times at the Rainbows, and the defense, led by tackle Levi Stanley, repelled the Huskies four times.

UH assistant George Lumpkin was there. He remembers defensive coordinator Larry Price predicting four runs into the line. “;Because they're arrogant,”; Price told Lumpkin at the time.

NOW, OF course, Washington State has nothing to be arrogant about. The Cougars were dusted by Stanford 39-13 in last week's opener after a miserable 2008. And UH beat WSU 24-10 last year in Hawaii. But Wazzu is home now, and none of the Warriors who started last year on defense will be playing in this game.

UH's defense looked decent in its season-opening 25-20 win against Central Arkansas. But it should be alarming to Warriors fans that the I-AA Bears drove 86 yards on 10 plays late in the game, mostly running up the gut.

WSU has a running game, with backs Dwight Tardy and James Montgomery capable of chewing up yards and clock.

The Hawaii front four will be put to the test, especially the young defensive ends. Liko Satele, Jake Heun and Paipai Falemalu have one Division I college start among them. Freshman tackles Haku Correa and Geordon Hanohano are expected to be ready to add depth in the middle.

Greg Salas put on a show last week, but UH's passing attack isn't clicking yet, and that's why offensive coordinator Ron Lee relinquished calling plays to focus on the receivers. It's an unorthodox move, but many have confidence in quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich's ability to select the plays.

Don't expect an overnight miracle though. Young receivers will still make mistakes. The line must improve its pass protection and Alexander needs to read the progressions better. The Warriors, at this point, still have to run sometimes to make plays.

And regardless what UH does on offense, it must hold the point on defense to win this game.

It's that simple.