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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, September 6, 2000

U H _ F O O T B A L L

UH Football

First up
for Warriors is
Portland State

The Vikings come to town with
a pass-happy offense that will test
UH in its season opener

By Paul Arnett

Perhaps it would be a wrong assumption that the University of Hawaii will pass Portland State to death on offense and stop the Vikings cold on defense.

Granted, this is a Division I-AA program making its living in the weaker Big Sky Conference. The Warriors have two dozen more scholarship athletes, meaning they should wear down their visitors in Saturday night's season opener at Aloha Stadium.

But before you bet the barbeque pit with your neighbor from Oregon that Hawaii will win by four touchdowns, take a look at what Portland State brings to the table.

For one, Portland State already has played a game, knocking off Western Washington, 37-20. The Vikings looked like they are picking up where they left off last year, where they finished 8-3 for the season, almost winning the Big Sky title.

They are ranked No. 12 this season in Division I-AA thanks to a quarterback named Jimmy Blanchard, who was named the conference player of the week after completing 16 of 24 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Western Washington.

Considered a preseason All-America, Blanchard moved past Hawaii head coach June Jones on the all-time Portland State pass list, thanks in part to a trio of talented receivers who can catch a football.

Terry Charles is the leader of this posse. He caught two touchdown passes of 38 and 88 yards last week. Antonio Jackson hauled in the other of 16 yards as Blanchard moved past 6,000 career yards in total offense.

Charles led the Big Sky in receptions last year with 71 for 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns. Joining him as the big three at wideout are Jackson and Orshawante Bryant. Last year, Bryant caught 57 passes for 782 yards and seven touchdowns.

All three had 100-plus yard games in the win over Western Washington. But that doesn't mean the Vikings are as pass-happy as the Warriors. They also like to run the football as the 4,374 career rushing yards by senor Charles "Chip" Dunn will attest.

"They utilize a great passing attack, but to be honest, they want to run the football first," UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said of the multiple Portland State offense. "Their running back has rushed for nearly 1,500 yards in each of the three years he's been in the program.

"Once they establish the run with him, they want to get the football to those three wide receivers. They all had over 100 yards in the last game, so they have very efficient wideouts."

Portland State will use a bit of everything on offense. As Lempa put it: "The only thing we won't see is the option. They have multiple formations and multiple personnel groups. They'll do more on offense in terms of shifting and motion, then we will see all year."

That suits Jones just fine. If his defense is as good as he believes it is, then Portland State is the perfect opponent to see where Hawaii is at this point in the season.

"Portland State is a good football team that will test us on both sides of the football," said Jones, who also serves as the Warriors offensive coordinator. "They are not only good on offense, but their defense will test us if we don't come to play hard and well."

Portland State's defense returns 10 starters from last season, including talented defensive back Rashad Floyd, who will be joined in the secondary by University of Oregon transfer Tamoni Joiner. Joiner started five games for the Ducks last season to finish with 20 tackles, one interception and six pass breakups.

Last year, Floyd was named first team All-Big Sky. Because teams tend to go away from him, Floyd's numbers are modest. He had three interceptions last year and 10 pass breakups.

"If you see a cornerback with a lot of tackles, that's not necessarily good," Jones said. "These two defensive backs are good ones who Nick Rolovich will have to be aware of in the course of the football game."

Jones said the Vikings utilize a standard four-man front. They like to mix their coverages with a four-and three-deep looks in the secondary.

"They like to get after you by blitzing a little more than other teams have done to us," Jones said.

"That means our offensive line has to be ready to pick up anybody coming through.

"I know our guys are looking forward to hitting somebody else other than themselves. This is a good test for us. We'll know a lot more about ourselves after this game."

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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