Is there improvement on the horizon for UH?


POSTED: Monday, December 07, 2009

Usually the University of Hawaii football banquet doesn't signal the end. Since 2002 there's almost always been a bowl game left to play.

But yesterday's banquet marked completion, a closing of the books on the season. No more football for the Warriors until next year.

UH went 6-7, falling one win short of the seven needed to host SMU in the Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Instead of the Warriors, it will be Nevada representing the WAC.

The last time UH faced this situation was 2005. The Warriors lost two more games than they won, but the banquet buzzed with anticipation of the season to come. Sophomore quarterback Colt Brennan had led a contingent of exciting young players who spent that fall learning the ropes of Division I college football. June Jones said it was the most fun he had coaching—because he knew how good this collection of athletes could become.

You know the rest of that story: Jones was proven correct as the 2006 and 2007 squads were the best back-to-back football teams Hawaii ever had.

THIS EDITION of the Warriors actually won one more game than the 2005 team. But can we honestly be as excited about what the future may hold?

I'd be a lot more open to that if Hawaii had put up a better fight against Wisconsin to finish things out on Saturday. The Badgers were very good, and maybe the Warriors didn't quit, but a 51-10 loss at home is a 51-10 loss at home. It is not a good springboard for the next season, regardless how many players are coming back.

Let's start with quarterback. Bryant Moniz delivered more pizzas than footballs before taking the starting role after injuries to Greg Alexander and Brent Rausch. He performed admirably and improved steadily—until Saturday.

It would be nice to chalk it up as a bad game and move on, but the problem is there's all this time to fill between now and spring practice and between spring practice and fall camp. That means the starting quarterback position should not be Moniz's by default next fall.

Rausch, Shane Austin and Cayman Shutter were all behind him, but they aren't now after Moniz threw for less than 50 percent passing accuracy and more interceptions than touchdowns Saturday. And they have plenty of time to prove they should be the starter.

By all means, Moniz deserves a scholarship and his name next to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart—in pencil. In reality, he needs to earn the starting position all over again by fending off any challengers in the coming months.

With Greg Salas, Alex Green, Kealoha Pilares, hopefully Rodney Bradley and others coming back, UH will be fine at receiver and running back. But the line will be almost all new guys.

The defensive front seven needs replenishment, too. Most of the starters are done. The secondary returns everyone, including safeties Mana Silva and Spencer Smith (two of the few Warriors who didn't look physically overmatched all the time Saturday).

Next year's schedule is arduous, and not just the nonconference part of it, which includes opening against USC, followed by a road trip to West Point and Colorado. The games against Boise State and Fresno State are also on the road.

Maybe coach Greg McMackin can recruit a few players ready to roll right away, and we know at least a few already on the roster will emerge.

But right now, there are few reasons to think 2010 will produce as successful a season as the last time UH football came off a losing record.

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.