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Old-school running game keyed UH's feel-good win


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POSTED: Sunday, November 08, 2009

Praying for the power-I? Did the halftime ceremony honoring Tommy K have you hoping for the single wing?

Perhaps you are a fan of the old triple-option spread that Hawaii used to clobber BYU twice and beat Illinois in the Holiday Bowl all those years ago ... and which still thrives at Georgia Tech and Navy under former UH coaches Paul Johnson and Kenny Niumatalolo.

After the Warriors piled up 697 yards in last night's 49-36 win over Utah State—360 of them on the ground—I mentioned to the UH offensive coordinator that there will be fans wishing for the wishbone.

Ron Lee laughed.

“;We might,”; he said. “;With these backs we have, we definitely have to get them the ball.”;

Leon Wright-Jackson: 167 yards and three scores. Alex Green: 110 yards.

Is it time to turn the run-and-shoot into the run-and-run?

Maybe not—don't forget about Greg Salas: 10 catches for 187 yards and two TDs.

“;Oh, man, it makes a tremendous difference when the running game is going like that,”; the receiver said. “;When everything's working like that, forget it.”;

For three years now, we've all dreamed of what Wright-Jackson might be like in an offense with a fullback and a tight end and the willingness to run the ball. But ask him, and he's happy just to be a part of what it already is—and he had the same attitude after last night's game as he did before it.

“;I'm happy in the run-and-shoot,”; Wright-Jackson said. “;You can still run the ball in it. We showed that tonight. That's what we do. That's Hawaii. There's no need for us to go to anything else.”;

Lee said this was in many ways the offense at its best, because it was balanced.

“;They were geared to stop the pass early in the first half,”; he said.

Well, that was pretty obvious, with a pick of Bryant Moniz on the first play of the game.

Yes, credit the UH offensive line and the running backs (as well as Moniz, who went for 76 yards on the ground himself). But before you buy your Hawaii Bowl tickets to see Mack vs. June, remember that this was Utah State ... 2-6 Utah State coming in, just like 2-6 Hawaii coming in. Despite all the talk about the Aggies playing everyone close, they're not a very good team.

MCMACKIN WAS right, though, in describing the Aggies as “;dangerous.”; They didn't lack for heart, making a strong run at the Warriors in the third quarter (the quarter from hell for UH all season). And it turned into an exciting contest, with big plays by both teams, but both lacking the knockout punch that winning teams have by this point of the year.

Finally, the interception by Mana Silva with less than 10 minutes left—that's when even the most skeptical could believe that UH would finish its first win in 56 days.

This was like an old Hawaii victory (old being the June Jones era), where the number of total yards and points allowed by the defense don't indicate how well that unit played at several points when it really mattered. There were big third-down and fourth-down stops, and the big turnover to seal it.

And an offense that had 700 yards before it took a knee at the end. Nobody minded going down to 697, not after nearly two months of losing.

It was a victory they all could share. They could finally point fingers at each other—as winners.

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.