Warriors get taste of Texas


POSTED: Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FORT WORTH, Texas » With the sparkling new home of the Dallas Cowboys gleaming on the horizon, Hawaii held its own — far more subdued — version of Monday Night Football yesterday.

The Warriors arrived in Texas yesterday on the first leg of their latest journey for tomorrow's game at Louisiana Tech and held their final full practice of the week at Trinity High School.

Though miles away from Cowboys Stadium, the edifice could still be seen in the distance.

They'll conduct their final preparations for their Western Athletic Conference opener in Texas today before flying out this afternoon for a quick hop to Louisiana.

The team will get their first look at LaTech's Aillet Stadium when they arrive for the game tomorrow to complete their early-season run of three straight road games.

The rare Wednesday night game will own the college football spotlight as the Warriors (2-1) and Bulldogs (1-2) kick off the week on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. Hawaii time.

Coming off a two-game, 11-day trip, the team savored a week in Honolulu before heading back to the mainland on Sunday.

But even though they've racked up the frequent-flyer miles in September, the Warriors are invoking that coach's cliche about mind over matter — if you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

“;It's a game, that's the way we have to look at it,”; said receiver Greg Salas, the nation's leader in receiving yards. “;If we put (the travel) in the back of our minds, then we're already psyching ourselves out. So to me it's just another game, it doesn't matter where it's at.”;

After an overnight flight on Sunday, the Warriors took it easy for most of their daylight hours yesterday before heading to practice.

UH head coach Greg McMackin turned up the intensity over the last two days in practice, with the Warriors looking to follow suit as they open the conference season.

“;Any time it's a conference game, the intensity level picks up a little bit, so it should be fun,”; said quarterback Greg Alexander.





        » What: Hawaii (2-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-2)

» When: 2:05 p.m. tomorrow


» TV/Radio: ESPN2/KKEA, 1420-AM


» Last meeting: Oct. 11, 2008. Hawaii won, 24-14, at Aloha Stadium.


“;We just have to be focused and intense and ready to go. All these conference games are going to be tough.”;

Led by Alexander and Salas, the Warriors enter the week atop the national rankings in passing offense at 423.3 yards per game and sixth in total offense (515.3). They've spent the week focusing on being even more precise.

“;Execution,”; Salas said of the emphasis since UH's loss to UNLV on Sept. 19. “;Just sharpening everything up. We might have a few new wrinkles here and there, but it's mainly execution.”;

Special attention

When asked about Louisiana Tech's strengths, McMackin was quick to mention No. 6 — Phillip Livas — as one of his main concerns.

And with good reason.

Livas is the leading receiver for the Bulldogs, and is a threat on special teams. He ranked seventh in the country in punt returns last season and returned a kick 85 yards for a touchdown against Navy. He has a total of five returns for touchdowns in his career and was named first-team All-WAC as a kick returner last year.

“;We just hope to contain him,”; UH special teams coordinator Chris Tormey said. “;We hope to get good hang time on our kicks, good placement, run down the field and diagnose schemes, blocks and make plays. He's a great player.

“;He's a tremendous open-field runner. Tremendous initial quickness, and really good top-end speed.”;

Solid play on special teams overall has been one of Louisiana Tech's trademarks under third-year coach Derek Dooley.

“;They're excellent, one of the best in the country last year,”; Tormey said. “;They led the WAC in three categories. ... So they're solid on their return team, they lead the conference in kickoff coverage, so they're just solid in every aspect on special teams.”;

Homeward bound

The Warriors' arrival brought two starters closer to home, receiver Rodney Bradley (Dallas) and cornerback Tank Hopkins (Marlin), both products of Navarro Junior College.