Star-Bulletin Sports

Friday, October 22, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

Tulsa will be
a test for ’Bows

Hawaii will find out if it is
a serious WAC football
contender tomorrow

By Paul Arnett


TULSA, Okla. - This is the spot where Hawaii finds out if it's for real.

Here, in the rolling green hills of eastern Oklahoma, in front of some of Tulsa's all-time greats - who are attending tomorrow's homecoming game - and against a backdrop of what's fundamentally wrong with the Western Athletic Conference.

Tulsa is 3,959 miles away from Honolulu. Hawaii and Tulsa have been in the league for nearly four seasons, and yet, this is the first time they've met since a nonconference affair featured Golden Hurricane quarterback Gus Frerotte in 1992.

For Hawaii, it's an opportunity to remain a conference contender and win consecutive road games for the first time in seven seasons. The bye week gave the Rainbows a chance to reflect on the loss to Rice and to rededicate themselves to this magical run.


Oceanic will show the Hawaii-Tulsa football game tomorrow at 10 a.m., the cable television company announced yesterday.

Bullet When: 10 a.m., tomorrow
Bullet Where: Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Okla.
Bullet TV: 10 a.m., Oceanic cable channel 16
Bullet Radio: Live on KCCN, 1420-AM
Bullet RealAudio: Click here

"I know I took some time off to reflect on our goals as a team,'' middle linebacker Jeff Ulbrich said. "This is the most important game of the season. If we win here, then we have a chance of reaching our goals.''

By most accounts, the Rainbows should win here. Tulsa University may have its spirits buoyed by the centennial celebration that will feature such past Golden Hurricane greats as Howard Twilley and Jerry Rhome.

But if Hawaii can strike quickly against a team that has lost five in a row for a third straight season, it might be the kind of death blow that keeps resistance at a minimum.

"We just have to go out and play our game,'' senior quarterback Dan Robinson said. "Having the week off helped everybody think about what we have to do the second half of the season.

"Yeah, the loss to Rice hurt us because we let that game get away. We just have to forget about that and make sure we take care of business in Tulsa. It's a road game. But we proved to ourselves in Dallas that we can win off the island.''

The way to win here will hinge on the offensive execution and the ability of the defense to keep pace with Tulsa's no-huddle concept. The secret to the Rainbows' success defensively is substitution patterns.

Who's on the field on first and 10 isn't necessarily who UH defensive coordinator Greg McMackin wants on third and eight. The Golden Hurricane will try to keep McMackin from putting in his "Okie'' package (five defensive backs) via the hurry-up style.

"What we have to do is make adjustments on the fly,'' McMackin said. "You have to stay focused on the sidelines and be ready to get in there in a hurry. They like to catch you out of position if they can. They run a lot of quick screens, so we have to be prepared for that, too.''

UH head coach June Jones is concentrating on the bigger picture. He knows it took at least three games for the Rainbows to develop the kind of mental toughness they have now. He also knows this new-found belief in themselves could be damaged with a loss all these miles and time zones away from home.

"These are difficult road trips because of the distances involved,'' Jones said. "Long flights through a lot of time zones affect your body in a negative way. Overcoming that is tough, but we have to do it if we want to stay in the race.''

To do that, Robinson has to be sharper than he was in the 38-19 loss to Rice. Receivers Dwight Carter and Channon Harris can't afford too many dropped passes. If they are able to stretch the defense, then slotback Craig Stutzmann, and running backs Avion Weaver and Afatia Thompson, can be that much more effective.

"This is a big game for us,'' Carter said. "We need to get a win on the road in order to show we're the true thing. They've been struggling and we know what that's like. If we can get them to doubting themselves early on, then we can get a win.''

Overcoming this self-doubt will be a heady job for Tulsa main man Dave Rader. The 12-year head coach is not only hearing negative comments from the community about Tulsa's recent demise, but from his athletic director as well.

Rader will be without top quarterback Michael Wall and leading tackler Ashon Farley tomorrow afternoon. Imagine if Robinson and Ulbrich were out of the lineup.

But in the end, Rader has to keep his team's spirits up or the Golden Hurricane will continue its downward spiral.

"This is a much-improved football team we're playing,'' Rader said. "They have a lot of team speed on defense and they do a great job with the run-and-shoot. You have to hand it to June and his staff. They've done a great job turning around that program."
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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