UH has no margin for error vs. Middies


POSTED: Saturday, November 28, 2009

Talk of “;commitment”; gets thrown around a lot as recruiting season intensifies.

The word carries substantially more weight when it comes to the service academies.

Where a choice of college dictates the direction of the next four or five years for most student-athletes, the Navy players Hawaii will face today have another five-year military commitment awaiting them following graduation and, perhaps, a career in the service.

Navy's 32 seniors were given their service assignments on Wednesday, split evenly between the Navy and Marines.




NAVY (8-3) AT HAWAII (5-6)

        When: 5:30 p.m., today

Where: Aloha Stadium




Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM




“;We don't force our kids to commit early because we want these guys to truly understand what they're getting into,”; Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “;It's a great opportunity, but it's not something you can force somebody into doing. I have great respect for these guys. They came to the Naval Academy when we're at war and they haven't flinched.”;

That sentiment extends across the field, and the attributes drilled into the Midshipmen on a daily basis make them tough to deal with on Saturdays.

“;They provide a great service to our country, and we have a lot of respect for them,”; Hawaii receiver Greg Salas said. “;They're a great team, well coached, well disciplined; that's what comes with being in the service. They're going to force you into mistakes.”;

The Warriors (5-6) will have very little margin for error when the Midshipmen (8-3) visit Aloha Stadium for the second meeting between the programs.

Hawaii enters the game with a three-game winning streak and faces a fourth straight must-win game to stay in bowl contention. Navy, meanwhile, enters the game two weeks away from its storied rivalry with Army and a Texas Bowl appearance already set for New Year's Eve.

But the Midshipmen aren't without motivation, given Niumatalolo's return to Aloha Stadium.

“;I feel very blessed,”; said Niumatalolo, a Radford and UH graduate and the second FBS head coach of Polynesian descent. “;I've been in the stadium many times, but never thought I'd come back as a head coach.”;

In his second season, Niumatalolo guided Navy to a near upset of Ohio State to open the season, a win at Notre Dame on Nov. 7 to secure its seventh straight bowl berth, and within range of the school record for wins.

After 11 straight weeks of action, the Mids had a bye last week to regroup and prepare for their trip to Hawaii.

“;I just hope the rust is gone,”; Niumatalolo said. “;You're always concerned when you're off a week, will you come back as sharp. Hopefully our timing will be there.”;

Rust and timing were also issues for Hawaii this week as quarterback Bryant Moniz returned to practice. Moniz missed last week's game against San Jose State with sore ribs, but was sharp in practice on Thursday and is expected to return to the starting lineup today.

The game will feature a matchup of opposing offensive philosophies. Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense averages more than 44 passes per game, while Navy's spread option runs the ball on 89 percent of its plays.

“;It might be good for the fans to see the contrast between the old and the new, what it used to be like here and what it is now,”; said Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper, a UH quarterback and slotback when the Rainbow Warriors ran the option in the early 1990s.

Navy features the nation's third-ranked rushing offense, led by a line that averages 264 pounds per man, but excels at knocking defenders off their feet and disrupting pursuit angles. That clears the way for quarterback Ricky Dobbs, the Mids' leading rusher, who can give the ball to the fullback, keep it, or pitch it a slotback.

“;They have a lot of great athletes, and that quarterback could play anywhere in the country,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said of Dobbs, who has 22 rushing touchdowns, breaking a 91-year-old school record and one short of the NCAA record for ground scores by a quarterback.

Once the Navy offense takes the field, taking the ball away has proven difficult. Navy ranks fourth nationally in time of possession while losing just 10 turnovers, tied for the fourth-lowest total.

Where the Warriors will need to sustain drives to keep the ball away from Dobbs, finishing those opportunities—a source of concern for much of the season—will be magnified.

“;We've been pretty effective (moving the ball) all year,”; quarterbacks coach Nick Rolovich said. “;It's going to come down to putting points on the board in the red zone.”;

The Mids gave up a season-high 35 points to SMU's run-and-shoot attack on Oct. 17, giving the UH staff a sample of what to expect today.

“;That's a great film for us,”; Rolovich said. “;(SMU does) a lot of our same stuff, especially with formations.”;

























































































































































































































































Z7Jovonte Taylor5-9170
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
DT49Tuika Tufaga6-2285
DT95Vaughn Meatoga6-2290
DE58Fetaiagogo Fonoti6-2255
SLB59R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane5-11225
MLB5Jake Heun6-2240
BLB53Blaze Soares6-1245
CB2Lametrius Davis6-0190
SAM9Spencer Smith5-11205
FS43Mana Silva6-1220
CB18Jeramy Bryant5-10180
PK20Scott Enos5-9180
P31Alex Dunnachie6-3235
Snap45Luke Ingram6-5210
Hold11Inoke Funaki5-11205
KR7Jovonte Taylor5-9170
PR88Ryan Henry5-9170



WR84Greg Jones5-10182
LT61Jeff Battipaglia6-4256
LG79Osei Asante6-1265
C71Eric Douglass6-2273
RG66Curtis Bass6-1265
RT70Matt Molloy6-3260 
WR81Nick Henderson6-4205
SB28Marcus Curry5-11200 
QB4Ricky Dobbs6-1198
SB33Bobby Doyle5-11204
FB47Vince Murray6-1217
or39Alexander Teich6-0212 
LE98Jabaree Tuani6-1265 
NG93Chase Burge6-4270
RE59Matt Nechak6-4252
or90Billy Yarborough6-5240 
OLB34Ram Vela5-9193
ILB51Ross Pospisil6-0227
ILB50Tony Haberer6-1217
OLB49Craig Schaefer6-2220 
CB1Blake Carter5-11187
ROV8Wyatt Middleton6-2208 
FS7Emmett Merchant5-9186
CB15Kevin Edwards6-2180
PK16Joe Buckley5-9176
KO45Jon Teague6-3198
Punt35Kyle Delahooke6-1207
LS96Brian Ackerman5-11188
Hold14Kyle Zingler6-0187
PR85Mario Washington6-0193
KR41Bo Snelson5-7180
or39Alexander Teich6-0212