Wednesday, October 27, 1999
TCU faces a
The Horned Frogs have struggled
in their role as WAC favorites,
but they still have a shot
at postseason play
TODAY'S RAINBOW NOTEBOOKBy Paul Arnett
Texas Christian suffered through so many seasons of anonymity in the Southwest Conference, it was hard to imagine the Horned Frogs carrying the flag for the WAC. Six winning campaigns in 33 years will do that for you.
But after TCU shocked the nation with its victory over sullen Southern California in the 1998 Sun Bowl and the better football programs exiting stage left to form the Mountain West Conference, second-year head coach Dennis Franchione's crew was happy to be considered the team to beat.
Unfortunately for Franchione, the Frogs were beaten early and often by a variety of teams from across the country. Not only did they lose to nonconference foes Arizona and Northwestern, but recent defeats at Fresno State and Rice have them on the brink of elimination.
"We've had some disappointing losses this season that have put us in a tough spot," Franchione said. "Now, we have to go to a very difficult place and try to get a win against a team that's very hot right now.
"We still have an opportunity to finish high enough in the standings to be considered for a possible bowl berth. But our main concern right now is Hawaii."
Franchione hasn't been inside Aloha Stadium since he brought New Mexico to the island chain in 1994. That season, the Lobos were still searching for a winning combination, something they would eventually find under Franchione's direction.
New Mexico played well enough that night to secure a 38-21 victory over Hawaii. Franchione is so sold on the formula his staff put together to get that win, he is taking a similar approach for Saturday night's critical conference meeting.
"We went there in 1994 from New Mexico on Thursday," Franchione said. "We played well and won the football game. You're basically there 48 hours before kickoff.
"I did not think we had trouble acclimating. We had trouble going home and getting back into a normal routine. But fortunately for us, we have a bye next week.
"I assigned about four coaches from my staff in the summer of 1994 to do research on how to go over there. We felt like we did it a good way because it worked for us. So, I think it's still a pretty good plan."
What concerns Franchione even more is devising a winning game plan against Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense. Franchione conceded his team has seen some one-back offenses this season that should help the TCU defense.
But it's not the same as facing a pure run-and-shoot that the Frogs will see Saturday night. Having to go from the option last week at Rice to the run-and-shoot this week in Hawaii is an adjustment Franchione hopes TCU is prepared to make.
"That's the beauty of college football," Franchione said. "But it is the type of offense that you're going to see a little more often this day and age.
"There are certain things that are unique to the run-and-shoot that you have to work on. But it's not quite like going from a two-back to a three-back offense like we had to last week.
"We've continued to run some one-back throughout the years, so there are some things we're familiar with. But they're much different and more committed to the run-and-shoot with no tight ends and three or four wideouts."
Don't be surprised if TCU lines up one back and three wide. The Horned Frogs will also give the Rainbows a traditional two-back look.
But no matter the formation, the Frogs will give the football to LaDainian Tomlinson on offense, and try to stop UH with Aaron Schobel and London Dunlap on the defensive side of the ball.
Tomlinson leads the nation in rushing, averaging 170.4 yards a game. Freshman quarterback Casey Printers has stepped in and done a good job running this complex offense.
He has thrown for 766 yards and four touchdowns. And should he struggle, Patrick Batteaux is waiting in the wings with his own brand of option football.
The defense is among the best in the league, especially against the pass. Schobel and Dunlap already have produced 12 sacks in seven games.
"This is a game we need to win," Franchione said. "It's not going to be easy, especially when you consider what June Jones has accomplished out there. But if we play well, I believe we have a chance to get a win."
When: 6:05 p.m. Saturday
UH vs. Texas Christian
Where: Aloha Stadium
TV: 9 p.m. on KFVE (delay)
RealAudio: Live Internet broadcast
Radio: Live on KCCN
Records: Hawaii is 5-2 (3-1 WAC. TCU is 3-4 (2-2).
History: The two teams have never met.
Coaches: Hawaii's June Jones (5-2, first year). TCU's Dennis Franchione (123-64-2, 17th year).
Tickets: $3-$17. Call 484-1122 or 1-800-291-3999
Spread: TCU favored by 5
The University of Hawaii entered a partnership with ETM Entertainment Network, Inc., and Safeway, Inc., to sell event tickets via machines located in select stores throughout the islands.
TODAY'S RAINBOW NOTEBOOK
UH tickets now available
through ETM machines
It was also announced at a press conference this morning that ETM's distribution network will offer ticket purchases through its telephone center and internet web site.
"We are excited to establish a relationship with ETM who provides a cutting edge technology that positions us well into the next millennium," UH associate athletic director Jim Donovan said in a press release. "It also allows our fans to purchase tickets from the islands as well as the mainland in providing the ultimate convenience in buying power."
Phase I of this project is already complete. Ticket machines in seven Safeway locations on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii are up and running. The second phase begins in November and is scheduled to be completed by next spring. On Oahu, the ETM machines are located at Safeway stores on 377 Keahole St. in Hawaii Kai, 94-780 B. Meheula Park in Mililani and 1121 So. Beretania.
"Safeway is pleased to play an important part in the strategic relationship with the University of Hawaii and ETM," said John Obrey, who is the general manager of Safeways in Hawaii. "Providing our customers with valuable and convenient service as part of their shopping experience is a priority at Safeway."
ETM machines are already used by Tom Moffatt Productions, Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Bishop Museum, Mercedes Championships, Sony Open and Panda Associate Travel.
As an example, if someone wanted to buy tickets for the football game this weekend, a map of Aloha Stadium would be shown to see how many tickets are available in what sections. It's quick, easy and keeps people from having to wait in line at the various ticket outlets.
Injury updateIf things weren't bad enough for defensive end Joe Correia, he recently dropped about 325 pounds on his stomach that resulted in him having blood in his urine.
The trainers have cleared him to play because no severe damage occurred to his liver as a result of the accident in the weight room.
"He had a hard time handling the weight because of his broken hand," Jones said. "He's lucky he didn't suffer a more serious injury. He should be up and available to play this weekend."
Correia is also battling back from a knee injury that forced him to the sidelines for last week's game at Tulsa University. The former St. Louis School standout conceded he has been unlucky with injuries this season.
"That just means I should be injury free for my senior year," Correia said, then smiled. "The weight room thing ended up being just a bruise, but it could have been worse."
Despite Correia's problems, the rest of the UH team is in fairly good shape. Safety Daniel Ho-Ching remains day-to-day with his recurring shoulder injury. Wide receiver Attrice Brooks is sidelined with a knee injury.
Fellow wideout Scott Sims will miss several games with a shoulder problem as will defensive back Jacob Espiau (hamstring), who suffered a setback yesterday. His expected return is the game with Navy.
Band problemsThe Star-Bulletin has received several letters to the editor complaining about the band not being allowed to play the fight song after each Hawaii score.
Jones said he asked the band to wait between 30 and 45 seconds to allow a promotional song to be played throughout Aloha Stadium.
"In the NFL, they play the song "Shout" (by the group Tears for Fears) to get everybody involved in the touchdown," Jones said. "We're also using the thing from "Cheers" at the beginning of the game to get everybody clapping and stomping.
"I never said the band couldn't play the fight song. I just asked them to wait so we could get the crowd more involved. We're just trying to generate some excitement for our fans."
Jones unveiled the "Cheers" tape before the Rice game, but it wasn't played loud enough for everyone to hear. The footage is a play off the old Queen song, "We Are the Champions."
- By Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin