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Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, September 25, 2000

U H _ F O O T B A L L

Associated Press
Three University of Texas-El Paso defenders
surround University of Hawaii quarterback Nick
Rolovich who is about to slide after a long-gainer
in Saturday's game. UTEP rolled to a 39-7
victory at the Sun Bowl.

Jones remains calm
after resounding loss

With 10 more games,
all is not lost for
the 0-2 Warriors

By Paul Arnett

June Jones is remarkably calm for a head coach whose University of Hawaii football team is 0-2 and rated among the nation's worst Division I teams.

Hawaii had just lost to Texas-El Paso and looked every bit as bad as the 39-7 final score indicates in Saturday night's Western Athletic Conference game at the Sun Bowl. For only the second time in his long association with the run-and-shoot, his offensive unit failed to score a touchdown.

But instead of calling out his players and challenging them to prove their manhood, Jones stood outside the locker room and patiently answered every question that came his way more thoughtfully than at any point this season.

Granted, the UH coaching staff pealed the paint at halftime. Members of the UTEP athletic department stationed outside the Warriors' locker room can attest to that. It didn't produce the desired results. The second half was much like the first.

But Jones is hoping the players will police themselves and get the ship righted in time for Saturday's league encounter with upstart University of Tulsa at Aloha Stadium. Despite approaching the final weekend in September, the Warriors still have 10 regular-season games remaining.

Associated Press
UH running back Afatia Thompson eludes
UTEP's Menson Holloway.

Last year's Cinderella story helped this year's comeback kids to a 2-0 mark in WAC play with a variety of penalties, dropped passes, missed opportunities and just plain bad football.

The Miners are in sole possession of first place for the first time in school history.

UTEP did everything in its power to help Hawaii. With fumbles, poor special teams and several dropped balls of their own, the Miners flirted with disaster. But the Warriors would have none of it.

Starting quarterback Nick Rolovich looked like a junior college player trying to adjust to Division I football.

Freshman Timmy Chang, who got the call in the second half, didn't provide the needed spark as poor field position and three turnovers kept any dream finish from taking place.

This night belonged to UTEP and 36,637 fans who have seen a lot of bad football throughout the past few years.

For Jones, all is not lost just yet.

"I told our players we still had 10 games left and not to get down on themselves," Jones said. "I reminded them that we need to play the way we practice. We're not doing that right now and it's something we can correct if we just do a better job of execution."

Associated Press
UTEP's Chris Porter struggles for yardage
after being hit by UH's Miles Garner,
right, and Anthony Smith.

That word has been prevalent in UH's first two losses. There has been little execution on offense -- Hawaii generated only 149 yards through three quarters and 211 for the game. The defense, which has given up 84 points in two games, paid the price by yielding nearly twice as many yards as UTEP.

Now, Hawaii has less than a week to recover from this defeat that left it battered and bruised, mentally and physically, on both sides of the football. Unlike the first two games, Hawaii's time is limited in preparation for Tulsa, a team that has won two consecutive matchups, including a road victory at Rice University.

"Maybe we'll do a better job on shorter notice," UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said with a wry smile. "We had plenty of time to prepare for our first two opponents and look where it got us."

All Lempa heard about during the spring and summer was the depth Hawaii had on defense. Well, that depth is now at the shallow end of the pool. Several front-line defenders went down with a variety of aches and pains, forcing Lempa to play freshmen Houston Ala up front, and Pisa Tinoisamoa and Keani Alapa at linebacker.

Nate Jackson saw plenty of playing time at safety, only not at the free safety position he has grown accustomed to. He had to fill in at the nickel spot in the first half and for the injured Dee Miller at strong safety in the second. It's not how the defensive staff had it drawn up over the summer.

"We really didn't want to play that many freshmen, but because of the injuries, we kind of had to," said Jones, who also used freshman Hyrum Peters in the secondary playing the nickel packages. "That may work out for us later in the season, but right now, the young guys are learning on the job."

Chang falls into that category as well. He will probably not start this weekend against Tulsa and sophomore sensation quarterback Josh Blankenship, who had a baptism-by-fire season of his own in 1999. But Chang could play if Rolovich continues to struggle.

"I didn't want to come out of there at halftime, but I understood why," said Rolovich, who was a woeful 6 of 28 in the opening half. He had a lot of passes dropped, but he also missed several wide-open receivers with bad throws, both under and overthrown. "I don't want to blame anyone because ultimately it comes down to me.

"We just need to execute better as an offense. It all comes down to execution. Just like coach Jones said. And right now, we're not doing that."

Jones knows that two games does not a season make.

"We created bad field position and our defense was on the field too long," Jones said. "They played hard, but your offensive unit can't go three-and-out all the time. I just told the team we need to be consistent. If we do that, then everything else takes care of itself."

Lempa takes
blame for long
strike to Mays

By Paul Arnett

University of Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa conceded he got caught napping.

Like most of the players and coaches, he thought the Warriors had blocked a punt for a touchdown and were in the lead, 13-3. But after the officials ruled holding on Joaquin Avila and awarded the ball to Texas-El Paso, he wasn't fully prepared for the play that came his defense's way.

"We knew UTEP was about to go long to No. 7 (Lee Mays)," Lempa said. "But here I thought we had just scored and suddenly our defense is back on the field. I should have called a defense that gave (cornerback) Flex (Armstrong) some help, but I didn't. It was my fault all the way."

After the Miners got new life, they decided to go for the home run. UTEP quarterback Rocky Perez dropped back in the pocket, saw Mays breaking free down the middle of the field and let it fly, hitting the speedy receiver right in stride.

Armstrong had single coverage all the way, no help over the top. Hawaii didn't put any pressure on Perez, a problem that plagued the Warriors all night and the result was a backbreaking 68-yard TD pass.

"I left Flex hanging on that play," Lempa said. "It's tough to cover a guy like that on a post route down the middle of the field. He got inside position on him and had a step Flex couldn't make up. We go from scoring a touchdown to their team scoring a touchdown and it really hurt us."

Not that Lempa believed that one play decided the ballgame. Far from it.

"What beat us is the inability to stop the run," Lempa said. "They got in there with two tight ends and a big offensive line from tackle to tackle and ran the ball right at us. When we started to creep up a step or two, they beat us on play-action.

"What concerns me is we aren't getting any pressure on the quarterback out of our front seven. And if we do gamble, we aren't getting there in time. We're a step away from making a play, but it leads to a big play for them."

Lempa will be the first person to tell you that the defense has been a disappointment. Granted, the offense did little to help. The defense was on the field 10 more minutes than the offense. But it still comes down to stopping the run to have a better chance against the pass. Perez put it this way.

"I give all my credit to my offensive line," the senior quarterback said. "They protected me all night. I think I got hit twice and that was it. Any quarterback who has time to stand in the pocket is going to find somebody. And Lee and Brian (Natkin) were open off the play-action all night."

Natkin tied a career-high in receptions with nine for a game-high 93 yards. The big tight end also had a touchdown reception of 5 yards. He created havoc in the UH secondary, which isn't used to seeing a tight end as good as this one in practice.

Mays had several drops, but he wound up with four receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Suffice it to say, the defense isn't getting it done. The unit yielded 405 yards, including 157 on the ground.

"We've got to find some guys who are going to make plays," Lempa said. "We're not aggressive enough out there. We aren't hitting anybody with any authority. It's disappointing because I thought we would play better than this."

Hawaii head coach June Jones credited UTEP's offensive line, saying, "They were big and physical. We just didn't match up that well."

Next week

Tulsa at Hawaii
6:05 P.M. Saturday
Aloha Stadium

Associated Press
Tulsa running back Ken Bohanon is about to
be hit by two Louisiana Tech defenders. The
Golden Hurricane visit the UH Warriors
for a Saturday game.

Tulsa owns
win streak

By Paul Arnett

Tulsa University is much like Texas-El Paso. Like the Miners, they have a first-year head coach and a team that appears stronger than the one of a year ago.

Granted, the Golden Hurricane is an average 2-2, but new head coach Keith Burns has Tulsa believing again. The Golden Hurricane has won consecutive games over Rice University and Louisiana Tech after opening the season with losses to North Carolina and Oklahoma State.

"They also have a good, young quarterback, who we saw last year," Hawaii head coach June Jones said of sophomore Josh Blankenship. "If we give him time to throw like we have the two quarterbacks in our first two games, he can hurt us."

Blankenship's top target is talented wideout Donald Shoals. Much like Terry Charles of Portland State and Lee Mays of UTEP, Shoals is able to beat you on the deep route. Hawaii corners Flex Armstrong and Shawndel Tucker will have their work cut out for them trying to guard Shoals.

The Golden Hurricane has improved defensively as well. Led by linebacker Ashon Farley, Tulsa isn't giving up the big plays of a year ago. This will not be an easy opponent, even though the Warriors have the Golden Hurricane at home.

"We feel like we've got this team moving in the right direction," the fiery Burns said. "We had a chance to beat Oklahoma State and got off to a good start in the WAC with a road win at Rice. Playing at Hawaii will certainly be a challenge for our guys. But we're looking forward to it."

UH has yet to lose to Tulsa in two previous meetings.

Conference standings


Texas-El Paso220 .500 2 001.0007627
Texas Christian3001.000 1 001.0004110
Tulsa220 .500 1 001.0002316
San Jose St.220 .500 0 00 .0000000
Fresno St.120 .333 0 00 .0000000
Nevada120 .333 0 10 .0001041
Rice130 .250 0 10 .0001623
Southern Methodist130 .250 0 10 .0002037
Hawaii020 .000 0 10 .000 739

Last week's results

UTEP 39, Hawaii 7
Oklahoma 42, Rice 14
USC 34, San Jose St. 24
Tulsa 22, Louisiana Tech 10
Tulane 29, SMU 17
TCU 52, Arkansas St. 3
Nevada 35, Wyoming 28
Fresno St. 17, California 3

Coming up Saturday

Tulsa at Hawaii
TCU at Navy
Rice at San Jose St.
Colorado St. at Nevada
SMU at Houston
New Mexico St. at UTEP

Season statistics


Yards gained rushing185374
Yards lost rushing7938
Rushing Attempts4597
Average Per Rush2.43.5
Average Per Game53.0168.0
TD’s Rushing03
Average Per Pass5.48.6
Average Per Catch13.416.7
Average Per Game289.0250.0
TDs Passing25
Total Plays152155
Average Per Play4.55.4
Average Per Game342418
TIME OF POSS.25:5334:07
3RD DOWN CONV.11/3417/38
4TH DOWN CONV.1/81/3








2000 UH Football Special

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