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It's all about football for Warriors in Las Vegas


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POSTED: Monday, September 14, 2009

LAS VEGAS » Other than the arid climate, there isn't much Las Vegas and El Paso, Texas, have in common in terms of scenery.

But for the Hawaii football team's week-long stay in Nevada, head coach Greg McMackin plans to create an environment similar to the Warriors' west Texas stay a year ago.

The Warriors arrived in town yesterday afternoon, barely acknowledging the beckoning lights as they strolled through the casino on their way to their rooms. They had enough time to get settled and grab a bite before reporting for a team meeting and study hall.

The team will stick to a similarly structured schedule throughout the week to keep their focus on Saturday's game against UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium, their last test before entering Western Athletic Conference play.

“;The best way to put it is this is a business trip,”; McMackin said.

“;It's tough to win on the road, so we're trying to make it as normal as we can and carry on a normal day.”;

The Warriors are holed up in Summerlin, a suburb miles removed from the temptations of The Strip.

“;We treat them just like they're going to school,”; McMackin said. “;So they have certain hours we want them to work on their studies and we have practice and meetings.”;

Any free time left will be spent on the grounds of the Suncoast Hotel, which comes equipped with restaurants, movie theaters and a bowling alley. There is also a full casino, but McMackin said it is off-limits to players, even those who are old enough to gamble legally.

The Warriors' two-game road trip last season took them to Logan, Utah, and to El Paso for a week leading up to a game at New Mexico State. Following the disappointing loss to Utah State, the Warriors regrouped over the next week, acclimated to the surroundings and closed the trip with a convincing win.

The team is hoping for a similar end to this extended mainland stay, which began with a 38-20 win over Washington State in Seattle that pushed the Warriors to 2-0 and into the upper reaches of the statistical rankings.

After a 626-yard performance, the Warriors rank 11th in the country in total offense and fourth in passing offense. Receiver Greg Salas is the nation's leading receiver after two weeks with an average of 187.5 yards, following a career-high 195 yards against WSU. Quarterback Greg Alexander is third in total offense with 422 ypg so far.

“;Greg Alexander played like he can play and we can just get better in all aspects,”; McMackin said. “;I talked to the players, how I believe in them and how we have good players. We may have young players, but they're good players.”;

Just as the players are expected to keep the blinders on this week, McMackin isn't indulging in the attractions and planned to spend the rest of his evening reviewing footage of UNLV's 23-21 loss to Oregon State to finalize this week's game plan.

McMackin said the Warriors emerged from the game in good health and is hopeful defensive end John Fonoti's knee will allow him to make his season debut this week.

Backup quarterback Brent Rausch returned to Honolulu and will see a specialist to examine a broken bone in his throwing hand suffered in practice in Seattle. Bryant Moniz saw his first Division I action late in Saturday's game, completing his lone pass for 36 yards to Jon Medeiros.

Shane Austin, who arrived in Seattle late Friday night, will be the No. 3 quarterback.