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Loss to LaTech may say more about UH than wins


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POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009

Late money flowed into the Vegas sports books Wednesday. It was insensitive money, but smart money. Enough to move the line.

And it was all on LaTech. Wiseguys figured a tsunami in the Samoan islands could contribute to the Hawaii sideline in Louisiana becoming a disaster area itself.

Now, how much of a factor, that's hard to figure.

It's one of those emotional intangibles — how danger to or death of a loved one will affect an athlete. We all know stories of such situations lifting players and teams to unlikely victories. There was the underdog Radford High football team that won the Prep Bowl after its coach, John Velasco, died suddenly. And the playoff-bound Los Angeles Angels feel they have one looking over them in Nick Adenhart, their young pitcher who was killed in a car accident in April.

But tragedy doesn't always turn an athlete into an omnipotent superstar, doesn't always transform a team into world-beaters. Half of UH's starting defensive line was directly affected by the events in Samoa; Rocky Savaiigaea lost a cousin and Fetaiagogo Fonoti did not know the fate of his mother and brother. How many of us in that situation — especially not knowing — could focus on any kind of game?

NO ONE will use that as an excuse for what happened to the Warriors. And they shouldn't. It would take away from a brilliant effort by the Bulldogs (especially their offensive line and defensive secondary, the tone-setters).

Here in Hawaii, we'll talk more about the poor tackling, the red-zone play-calling, the sacks, the drops — and what looked like a general lack of intensity. That trip to Ruston will suck it out of you; it's a lot different than a direct flight to Seattle or a full week to get used to Las Vegas.

You spend forever to get there and once you do, there's not a whole lot — except a very physical bunch of football players with stored up anger because none of them have beaten you. No surprise because we saw it before, in 2005. Same situation, same outcome.

IT'S AMAZING how one game changed the question for many from “;How good is UH?”; to “;How bad is UH?”;

We might get an idea when Fresno State comes to town. If the Warriors fail as spectacularly at stopping Ryan Mathews as they did LaTech's Daniel Porter, we'll be talking Marshall Faulk, Ron Dayne numbers. We'll be talking three-game losing streak, and counting.

Things also look bleak on the other side of the ball with quarterback Greg Alexander out. All that swelling in his knee? Not a swell thing for UH.

Still, another big loss won't mean the end of hope. Remember, Hawaii somehow won its last four, including the Hawaii Bowl, after absorbing a 70-14 pounding at Fresno in 2004.

If it seems like UH keeps getting blown out on national TV, it's because it's true: Sugar Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, now this. At least the other two opponents were Georgia and Notre Dame.

Adding to the embarrassment was Greg McMackin's most recent misspeak. While being interviewed at halftime, he seemed to have a different sport in mind while answering a question with a question.

“;The 3-point play?”;

Apt, in a sense.

Quite a few UH fans are already asking when basketball season starts.

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Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.