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A loss that's not a blowout is an improvement for UH


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POSTED: Monday, November 02, 2009

So you're dozing off on the plane after a rough day. Your business trip didn't go well. It looked like you might close the deal a couple of times, but your nearly two-month-long no-sale slump continues.

You're roused from your troubled REM by the captain announcing a 6-hour delay ... In Las Vegas ... on Halloween night.

Good or bad? All depends on your perspective and your state of mind (not to mention your bankroll).

When the University of Hawaii football team faced this situation on its return trip from losing 31-21 at Nevada on Saturday, the responses had to be mixed.

If you're a typical 21-year-old college student, what could be better than Halloween on The Strip?

Football players, of course, are far from the norm. And is a team on a six-game losing streak in any mood to party among the crazies?

“;It was OK,”; defensive back Richard Torres said yesterday, after the Warriors had finally returned. Apparently it was healing for him, since his hamstring isn't torn, which was how coach Greg McMackin described it after the game.

This was all McMackin needed. What was originally a 2-hour layover turned into a 6-hour delay, in the best and worst of all possible places. Can't exactly keep everyone on lockdown at McCarron.

We're told they all made it back to the airport in time for the final leg home. Remember, this was where the losing streak started, with that one-point loss to UNLV; if they thought of that at all, by the end of the delay the fellas probably felt the way I do after one of those four-night junkets: Get me the hell out of here.

ARE WE allowed to say the downward spiral has ended, because this time UH didn't get blown out? Was some kind of corner turned, because the Warriors went up 14-0 early at a tough place to play?

Unfortunately, some of the same problems persist, or variations. The penchant for fumbles took a week off, but two picks (one killing a UH drive in the Nevada end zone) turned into 14 Wolf Pack points.

Badly timed penalties were critical. Is there really not a better option at left tackle?

No one expected the Warriors to stop the run against the No. 1 rushing team in the nation; but that doesn't make yielding 312 on the ground any more acceptable.

THIS IS the first time I've heard people start talking about making a bowl game after a loss; there really is a contingent out there that saw enough on the positive side Saturday to grab onto the idea of a drive for five wins and a Hawaii Bowl berth. That, my friends, would replace 1999 as the greatest turnaround ever. Midseason U-turns are a lot rarer than those fueled by an offseason and a new coaching staff (and some different players, too).

We saw something pretty wild in 2004, a shambles of a team recovering to win its last four, including the Hawaii Bowl. The difference is the 2009 Warriors don't have Timmy Chang, Chad Owens and Samson Satele.

With that being said, this team could've gone to Reno and been crushed, like the infamous Rout 66 at Wyoming in 1996, and other high-country road disasters before and after.

But this team competed. It's a long way from the squad that won in dramatic fashion in Reno two years ago on the way to 12-0. But it's also nowhere near the depths of 0-12 in 1998.

This team has a good shot to win two of its next three games. Navy and Wisconsin? Must I even answer that?

The big question is what comes after this 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.