Wednesday, October 27, 1999
A key to Hawaii's surprising success this season has been the play of the offensive line.
will be Bows
toughest test yet
Not only are the Rainbows yielding only one sack per 24 attempts, they are also first in the Western Athletic Conference in total yards (411.7) and passing yards (326.3).
This week, they will face perhaps their toughest test of the season. Texas Christian University is first in the WAC in total defense, yielding 309.6 yards a game, and first in quarterback sacks with 26.
"Everybody says they have the most athletic defensive front in the league," right tackle Kaulana Noa said. "That's a challenge for us, to go against the best."
Hawaii head coach June Jones takes it one step further.
"We feel like the key to the game will be how our offensive front matches against their defensive front," Jones said. "What impresses you is their team speed on defense. They're even quicker to the football than Southern California. To be honest with you, they look like an NFL front four."
That fact isn't lost on senior quarterback Dan Robinson. He has seen the film of the front seven that includes talented defensive ends Aaron Schobel and London Dunlap, and realizes the O-line has to provide protection. Between them, they have 12 sacks.
"But I'm not worried about that," Robinson said. "Those guys have been protecting me all season. I'm just going to step up in the pocket and throw the rock. Believe me, their secondary is what I'm worried about most because they close hard to the football."
Robinson is not the most mobile of quarterbacks. If opposing teams can pressure him, his effectiveness goes down accordingly. TCU also doesn't usually blitz that much because the front four is so solid, making it more difficult to spot an open receiver.
"In my mind, their front four players are as good as we've played against," Arizona head coach Dick Tomey said. "They are big and have as much speed as anybody. I think Aaron Schobel is a tremendous football player."
Schobel usually lines up on the right side, meaning Adrian Klemm will have the blocking responsibility, which suits him just fine. When Dunlap comes in, Schobel shifts to left defensive end.
"You like to see how you compare with the top defensive players of the league," Klemm said. "This is an important game for both teams and how we do against their defensive front will be an important part of the game."
Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh isn't as concerned with TCU as he is with his own players. In his mind, if Hawaii is sound in its techniques and foot work, then everything else will take care of itself.
"Coach Cavanaugh believes in his system and we believe in him," center Dustin Owen said. "He's good getting us prepared for our opponent. This is a great opportunity for us to show what we can do. Frankly, we love challenges like this one."
Moving on upHawaii moved up several spots to No. 79 in the latest Matthews/Scripps-Howard computer poll that ranks the 237 Division I and Division I-AA teams with a power rating of 86.07.
By comparison, Virginia Tech is still rated No. 1 in the nation with a power rating of 115.91. That means, on a neutral site, the Rainbows would be about a 30-point underdog.
This week's opponent, Texas Christian, comes in ranked No. 93 with a rating of 82.98. Throw in the four points Hawaii gets for home-field advantage, and the Rainbows should be favored by a touchdown. The official Las Vegas line, however, has TCU tabbed as a five-point choice.
Injury reportWide receiver Attrice Brooks will miss this week's game with a leg injury, Jones confirmed today. The UH head coach also said that Brooks doesn't have a redshirt year available to him.
Defensive end Joe Correia is up and ready to play. He missed last week with a recurring knee injury that will likely need surgery at the end of the season.
Safety Daniel Ho-Ching will be available. He reinjured his shoulder in the victory over Tulsa and is listed as day-to-day. It's the same shoulder he hurt on the final play of the spring game last year.
On the runGaining 151 yards on the ground last week in the win over Tulsa University was a good start, but running backs Afatia Thompson and Avion Weaver don't want it to end there.
They said after the 35-21 win over the Golden Hurricane they would like to gain at least 200 yards in one game before the season is through.
"Why stop there?" Weaver said, then smiled. "We know this is primarily a passing offense, but Afatia and I want to help as much as we can."
By Paul Arnett