Friday, November 10, 2000
Win, win situationThis is one game both teams figure they can win.
Hawaii and Nevada both
expect victory in tomorrow's
clash at Aloha Stadium
By Paul Arnett
After playing a schedule filled with tough opponents, including nationally ranked teams Oregon, Colorado State and Texas Christian, the University of Nevada sees Hawaii as an opportunity to double their win output.
The same can be said of the Warriors, who haven't been two touchdown favorites since the opener with Portland State. They, too, have run a gantlet of sorts and see the last month of the season as a chance to redeem themselves.
"Our goal is to win this weekend," Warriors head coach June Jones said. "We aren't thinking about anything but that. We want to try to finish as strong as we can this year and build toward next year. But our main concern is Nevada."
The first tour of duty through the Western Athletic Conference has been predictably tough for the Wolf Pack. Since moving from the now defunct Big West, the only win Nevada has managed this season was at Wyoming.
What: Western Athletic Conference football.
Who: Nevada vs. Hawaii.
When: Tomorrow, 6:05 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium.
RealAudio: Live Internet broadcast.
TV: KFVE (Channel 5), 10 p.m. (delayed)
Radio: AM-1420/ FM-107.9, 6 p.m.
The Wolf Pack are 0-5 in WAC play, but believe their remaining three games against Hawaii, Rice and Tulsa are winnable. Like Hawaii, Nevada wants to finish strong to build toward a better and brighter tomorrow.
"We look at our remaining games as a chance to finish the season on a strong note," first-year head coach Chris Tormey said. "We've played a difficult schedule. There's no denying that.
"But playing quality opponents allows your players to see what it takes to be a better football team. We've played a lot of young guys this year, who had to learn different systems on the run. It takes time to get everybody on the same page. But we feel like we're doing the right things."
One thing that would help Nevada immensely is getting quarterback David Neill and linebacker Josh Smith back on the playing field. Neill appears a step closer than Smith, who has been out for three games with a bad ankle sprain.
Neill, on the other hand, has recovered sufficiently from wrist, hip and shoulder problems to be the starting quarterback tomorrow night at Aloha Stadium. Tormey is confident his top gun will be fit for duty.
"David is one of the best quarterbacks in the league," Tormey said of the 6-foot-5 junior from Newhall, Calif. "He's done a good job adjusting to our system. If nothing happens between now and game time, he'll be our man."
Neill has completed 130 of 263 passes for 1,707 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has thrown nine interceptions and was sacked a dozen times alone by Texas Christian. He is still ranked 34th nationally in total offense, averaging 227.5 yards a game.
"I'm feeling better than I did, but I'm still not 100 percent," Neill said. "I don't have a full range of motion in my throwing shoulder. But I'm going to play."
Hawaii counters with Tim Chang, who is 10th in the country in total offense, averaging 273.2 yards a game. The true freshman quarterback is still a little fuzzy around the edges, but said he can't worry about the aftershocks of his concussion suffered two weeks ago.
Jones said that Chang has been sharp in practice all week, but conceded Nick Rolovich could be pressed into duty if Chang falters. The Warriors are facing one of the weaker defenses in the league, but have struggled in this area as well. Coordinator Kevin Lempa has reshuffled the deck in hopes of finding the best 11 defenders.
Hawaii is yielding 396.5 yards and 38 points a game. What makes these numbers harder to take is the Warriors have forced only 11 turnovers, while committing 23.
"We're just trying to find the best players that we can, who can help us get this thing turned around," Lempa said. "Teams that have had the most success against us have tried to run the ball right at us.
"We need to get as many men in the box as we can afford to if Nevada tries something similar. I'm sure they've watched the film, so we have to be prepared for them to try to line up and run it."
Hawaii also has to keep an eye on wideouts Mike Crawford and Nate Burleson. While Nevada's top rusher, Marquix Starks, only has 365 yards and one touchdown, Crawford and Burleson have combined to catch 82 passes for 1,190 yards and seven scores.
"We need to get a win and so do they," Jones said. "I think it's going to be an interesting game. It could be high scoring. If it is, I just hope we have one more point than they do."
Gone to Maui: A press conference will be held on Maui next week to announce the University of Hawaii playing Montana at War Memorial Stadium, a source confirmed yesterday.
Details are still being worked out because the change of site has to be approved by the board of regents, which meets next Wednesday, but that's the last obstacle for the football game to take place.
Hawaii head coach June Jones is excited about the possibility to play a game on a neighbor island. As he put it, "It gives kids who can't come over here to watch a game a chance to see it in person."
The game with the Division I-AA Grizzlies is scheduled for Sept. 8. Hawaii has nine home games next year thanks in part to San Jose State coming to Aloha Stadium for back-to-back games because of a scheduling conflict.
Maui officials believe they can add enough stands to seat about 22,000 for the game. Current season tickets holders for Hawaii will have first option to attend the nonconference meeting that will likely cost $30 a ticket. That's the same price as the Hula Bowl, which has been played on Maui for three consecutive seasons.
Hula Bowl officials took an active interest with Maui Mayor James Kimo Apana to work out the details to get the game played over there. It will be the first Hawaii game held on a neighbor island in school history.
2000 UH Football Special