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It's up to McMackin to turn fortunes around


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POSTED: Sunday, October 25, 2009

My friend Annie was grateful yesterday that her son's football game was halted after three quarters. Jariah's team was ahead by 49. So everyone did the sensible thing and called it a day. Perhaps some life lessons were even learned by all the 7-year-olds (and their parents and coaches) on both sides of the rout.

Karl Benson was in the house at Aloha Stadium last night. Maybe he should've done the same: What's the good of being commissioner if you can't do something crazy like that now and then? Of course I jest, but many of the fans had already voted for return to the tailgates by halftime anyway, and the pollsters back east would've appreciated the gesture.

But, really, what do you take away from the anticlimactic final quarter (or half, or three quarters) of something like Hawaii's 54-9 loss to Boise State? Greg McMackin wants me to recognize that his guys played hard to the end, they didn't give up, they took the best that the No. 6 team in the country could give them and didn't run off the field after three quarters for ice cream.

He even said that he believes his players won the war in the trenches, and that if it hadn't been for nine turnovers—actually, Coach, just six, and that's important—things might have been different.

Even if it's just a slip of the tongue, saying that your offense lost the ball three more times than it did is insulting to half of your team. It's also insulting to the fans to tell them via the media that Shane Austin isn't getting practice reps at quarterback when he's been getting the second-team snaps for three weeks.

Yes, any sensible person would agree with you that it was too early for Austin, a fourth-string, sophomore former walk-on, to be out there, especially against Boise State. But don't imply he hasn't had any work with the first team when he has.

THIS WAS a mismatch to begin with and everyone knew it. If it were a boxing match, it would never have been approved. And the Broncos needed a knockout—an early-round KO—to make a point with the voters after some lackluster-looking wins.

Boise State made sure the pollsters got a good look, building up a 34-0 lead by the half. And it did it with all kinds of weapons. For a while, it seemed the Broncos got tired of pounding away, so they went with the trickery. When Boise's punter and wide receiver combine for more passing yards than UH's starting quarterback, you know the Warriors are in trouble. Then, tired of the novelty toys, BSU went back to simply pounding away with a long drive that ended with Titus Young in the end zone flashing shakas that might as well have been middle fingers.

The 69-3 blowout by the Broncos in 2004 was actually not as bad as this—because it was at Boise. It was kind of embarrassing, because Timmy Chang was hyped to break the NCAA career passing-yardage record, but instead eclipsed the mark for interceptions.

Coach, I'll take your word that your players busted their butts all the way to the end. They're the only ones who really truly know, anyway.

But a 45-point loss is still a 45-point loss. It's five in a row, you're on your fourth quarterback and fifth middle linebacker headed into a tough road game at Nevada. Yes, you've had more than your share of injuries.

Regardless, it remains your job to turn it around somehow.

How do you stop the bleeding and salvage the season?

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.