Stopping run job 1 for Warriors defense


POSTED: Saturday, November 14, 2009

There certainly were some painful lessons to absorb.

Early in the season, defending the run emerged as an issue for the Hawaii defense as opposing running backs churned out one demoralizing first down after another.

With the Warriors entering the season's final stages, applying those lessons becomes the focus.

“;You get better in games because that's where you really see the run,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said. “;Where you see it is against the Fresno States, the Boise States and the Louisiana Techs and you get better at playing it because it's a different tempo.”;

Three of the Warriors' next four opponents tend to gravitate to the running game, starting with today's Western Athletic Conference matchup with New Mexico State at Aloha Stadium.

The weight of a six-game losing streak is gone thanks to last week's win over Utah State. Yet the urgency remains for the Warriors as they try to keep their faint bowl hopes flickering.





Who: New Mexico State (3-6, 1-3) at Hawaii (3-6, 1-5)
        When: Tomorrow, 5:05 p.m.
        Where: Aloha Stadium
        TV: PPV, Dig. Ch. 255
        Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM


“;Every game is more important than the last,”; McMackin said. “;We just have to do what we do and take care of our own business.”;

In years past, New Mexico State's Air Raid offense kept the Aggies in the upper reaches of the statistical rankings with quarterback Chase Holbrook and receiver Chris Williams—who torched Hawaii for 221 yards and three touchdowns last year—as their weapons of choice.

This time, the Warriors (3-6, 1-5 WAC) face a New Mexico State team scraping the bottom of the national rankings in offensive production while putting more emphasis on ball control and defense under first-year head coach DeWayne Walker.

The Aggies (3-6, 1-3) enter Aloha Stadium last the country in scoring (11.8 points per game) and total offense (232.9 yards per game). They're averaging less than 100 yards passing yards per game and have managed four touchdowns through the air.

The Aggies' lone touchdown in their current three-game losing streak came on a fumble return near the end of a blowout loss at Louisiana Tech. You have to go back to an Oct. 10 win over Utah State to find the last time the New Mexico State offense reached the end zone.

The Aggies run the ball better than 64 percent of the time, with junior Seth Smith getting the bulk of those carries. Smith enters the game with 714 yards, averaging 4.2 per carry, running behind fullback Ronald Opetaia.

“;I think were getting better at it,”; UH linebacker Corey Paredes said of containing the running game. “;(The defensive line is) getting off the ball and they're clogging up holes so the linebackers can scrape and make the tackle. ... We're doing our assignments better, we're more gap sound.”;

The Aggies have shuffled between sophomore Jeff Fleming and freshman Trevor Walls at quarterback. But Walker indicated Fleming will hold the job the rest of the way.

“;I thought he does a better job of getting rid of the ball. That's kind of been our issue, getting rid of the ball, getting back to our quick game and some of the things we were doing pretty good earlier in the year,”; Walker said this week.

“;I think we've been more than fair with both quarterbacks in our first nine games and these last four we want to finish up on a good note, so we're going to go with Jeff and hopefully that will bring some more continuity to the offense.”;

Hawaii is developing continuity as well with sophomore quarterback Bryant Moniz entering his sixth game as the starter. Moniz led an attack that generated close to 700 yards, just about equally distributed between ground and air, in last week's win.

“;Everybody is getting more comfortable with what they're doing, Mo is getting more reps and we're playing a lot faster,”; UH offensive coordinator Ron Lee said.

“;The timing, the speed, they're getting better every day. He knows the routes, he knows the speed of the receivers. It's starting to come together.”;

Duplicating last week's 360-yard outburst from the running game might be a lot to ask, but the threat demonstrated by running backs Leon Wright-Jackson and Alex Green might give the New Mexico State defense—led by linebackers Jason Scott and Ross Conner—another aspect to deal with tonight.

“;This is going to be an I.Q. game for our defensive staff for sure to try to keep up with these guys,”; Walker said.



Z7Jovonte Taylor5-9170
or84Joe Avery6-5180
Y2Jon Medeiros5-9185
LT77Aaron Kia6-5290
LG64Ray Hisatake6-3315
C55John Estes6-3300
RG74Raphael Ieru6-2315
RT51Austin Hansen6-4285
H1Greg Salas6-2200
X21Kealoha Pilares5-11200
QB17Bryant Moniz6-0190
RB23Leon Wright-Jackson6-1215
DE90Elliott Purcell6-3255
or98Liko Satele6-2260
DT49Tuika Tufaga6-2285
DT95Vaughn Meatoga6-2290
DE58Fetaiagogo Fonoti6-2255
SLB59R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane5-11225
MLB50Mana Lolotai6-0230
BLB53Blaze Soares6-1245
CB2Lametrius Davis6-0190
SAM9Spencer Smith5-11205
FS19Richard Torres5-8175
CB10Kawika Ornellas5-9170
PK20Scott Enos5-9180
P31Alex Dunnachie6-3235
Snap45Luke Ingram6-5210
Hold11Inoke Funaki5-11205
KR7Jovonte Taylor5-9170
or21Kealoha Pilares5-11200
PR88Ryan Henry5-9170
X7Todd Lee5-9155
F10Marcus Anderson5-8166
LT75Dwayne Barton6-4270
LG67Joe Palmer6-3308
C62Mike Grady6-3302
RG72Seioli Fakalata6-3313
RT59David Norman6-4300
QB9Jeff Fleming6-4195
FB21Ron Opetaia5-9221
RB20Seth Smith5-8198
Y17Kyle Nelson6-4232
LE48Pierre Fils6-3230
LT54John Finau6-1295
RT44Chris Romero6-4273 
RE52Donte Savage6-1229 
SAM51Ross Conner5-10212
MIKE9Jason Scott5-10207
WILL11Jamar Cotton6-0218
CB4Davon House6-0172
SS2Alphonso Powell5-9182
FS19Stephon Hatchett5-8170
CB1Jonte Green6-0175
PK96Kyle Hughes6-0184
Punt96Kyle Hughes6-0184
LS17Kyle Nelson6-4232
Hold11Trevor Walls6-5220
PR10Marcus Anderson5-8166
KR23Tonny Glynn5-8192