Thursday, November 23, 2000
ThanksgivingYou are Kevin Lempa. It's Thanksgiving. You've just spent the past few days running through the defensive schemes designed to stop the great and powerful wizards of Wisconsin.
faces big, fast, talented
By Paul Arnett
You can't help notice how big these guys are on film and can only imagine what it will be like in real life. Come Saturday, you're going to have an up close and personal view.
It's not that University of Hawaii head coach June Jones is superstitious, mind you. He's not. But hey, the last two times the boss asked you to be on the field you won. Don't bet against a streak because that's why the lights are on in Vegas.
Not that you did it willingly. Watching a game from the sidelines is a little like being a 10-year-old seven rows back at a parade. It's just a lot of legs and feet flying by in all directions. The problem is, Jones has been doing it for 25 years and can recognize a defense like it's an old friend.
So, what are you going to do? You're going to rely on UH associate head coach George Lumpkin to tell you the view you're missing from the press box.
He'll line you up. Just hope Wisconsin doesn't knock you down.
Who: Wisconsin at Hawaii.
Kickoff: 6:05 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium.
RealAudio: 'Net broadcast Click Here
"The first thing you notice is the size of the offensive line, including a 6-foot-5 tight end," the UH defensive coordinator said after yesterday's practice. "These guys are big. They are fast. And they are talented.
"If I'm them, I'm going to run right at us. We've done OK in our last two games, but Nevada and Louisiana Tech aren't these guys. This is a top five program that can beat you any number of ways offensively. But what I expect is for them to line up in two tight ends and try to punish us man on man."
If this happens, best have local boys Nate Jackson and Jacob Espiau playing a little safely-slash-linebacker. As much as you hate to do it, you've got to put eight or nine men in the box and ask your corners to cover like Neon Deion. Sure, you might stuff them a time or two. But if you cheat too much, Wisconsin is going to burn you with the pass.
"Or break off a big play with Michael Bennett at tailback," Lempa said.
"We haven't played anybody with speed like this guy. He runs a 10-flat 100 meters. We're talking world-class speed. And if he breaks one through there and our safeties miss him, it's a big play going the wrong way."
So, what you need are turnovers and key stops on third and fourth down.
Sure, you're going to give up some yardage. And that's OK. Just as long as you can make enough big plays to allow the offense to keep pace.
Jones believes his system can score on anybody. Bring the Baltimore Ravens to town and the UH head coach will take at least one to the house inside 60 minutes. That's the mindset. But here is reality.
Wisconsin will likely line up in a basic 4-3 and look for ways to disguise new defenses the Badgers worked on during the bye week. You think being Lempa on Thanksgiving is enough to make you feel queasy, but what about Jones?
His offensive front is down starter Kynan Forney. The right tackle has emerged as one of the surprise linemen this season. Had he not sprained his ankle, it was almost a sure thing he would be invited to the Senior Bowl.
But he is down and likely out.
That requires you to move future Outland Trophy candidate -- at least that's the way O-line coach Mike Cavanaugh sees him --Vince Manuwai one spot to tackle. It's true, the sophomore doesn't call this position home, but don't tell him that. He loves to stick his face mask in the heart and soul of his opponent. On the whole, he'd rather be pulling, but if Jones needs him to set up shop outside, sign him up.
"Vince is one of the best players we have," Jones said. "It's scary to think how good he's going to be in two years. We're asking a lot from him, but he can do it if Kynan can't go. He showed that last week against Louisiana Tech."
So, when drawing up the game plan, don't count on Forney. That weakens you a bit on that right side. How much, depends on how the Badgers play it.
"They're going to do something they haven't shown before because every team does against us," Jones said. "We'll know pretty quick what their plans are. It will be up to our guys to adjust up front."
Ka Leo O Hawaii
There is nobody on the team who wants to play more in Saturday's nonconference game against Wisconsin than offensive right tackle Kynan Forney.
Forney iffy for
But the chances of that happening grow dimmer by the day. He is trying to practice on the ankle he sprained in the fourth quarter of the win over the University of Nevada nearly two weeks ago, but so far, it's slow going.
"We'll have to see how he feels later in the week, but right now, I'd say it's iffy," UH head coach June Jones said. "If he can't go, we'll use the same lineup we had last week."
Injury updateOffensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh confirmed yesterday that Vince Manuwai would start at tackle in place of Forney and Shayne Kajioka would slide into Manuwai's right guard spot. It will be his third start of the season.
"We're looking forward to the challenge to see how we match up against Wisconsin's defensive front," Cavanaugh said. "This is what it's all about, to play a team of this caliber.
"I'd say they're comparable to TCU's defensive front, although TCU might be a little quicker. I'm impressed with how hard the Wisconsin front works. They are big and fast."
Jones also said that running back Afatia Thompson wouldn't play because of a sprained ankle. Neither will Mike Iosua, who has been sidelined with a bad ankle since the loss at Rice.
"Mike hasn't been able to practice this week, so it doesn't look good for him," UH defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said. "We've got some guys back in there, but they're still playing hurt. Both of our starting tackles, Doug Sims (knee) and Lui Fuga (shoulder), are not 100 percent. But give them credit, they're in there every week playing hard."
Forney in Senior Bowl?UH secondary coach Rich Miano, who handles players taking part in the postseason all-star games, said he's still working to get Forney into the Senior Bowl.
"All the scouts love him," Miano said. "He's moved up the ladder a lot like Jeff Ulbrich did last year. One of the top scouting services rates Forney the best offensive tackle in the west."
Miano couldn't comment on strong safety Dee Miller's chances of playing in the Senior Bowl, but it doesn't look like he will be invited to the all-star game.
Miller has been plagued with a bad hamstring pull all season and hasn't been able to beat out starters Nate Jackson and Jacob Espiau, as a result.
Hula Bowl officials will take Miller for their game should the Senior Bowl decide to pass on him.
Wisconsin heavy favoriteHawaii jumped several spots in the Scripps-Howard computer rankings to No. 117 with a rating of 77.93. This poll, used in the Bowl Championship Series formula, ranks the 241 Division I and Division I-AA programs.
By comparison, Florida State is the new No. 1 team, jumping over Oklahoma, with a rating of 112.40. That means, at a neutral site, the Seminoles would be a five touchdown favorite over the Warriors.
Wisconsin comes in ranked No. 21 with a power rating of 100.34. Add four points to the Warriors because they are the home team, and the Badgers should be about an 18-point favorite. The official Las Vegas line opened Monday with Wisconsin favored by 20. The current line at the Stardust Hotel is 19.
Few seniors involvedWhile there are no players on the Wisconsin team who took part in the Badgers' 59-10 shellacking of Hawaii in the final game of the 1996 season, two seniors for the Warriors did.
They are place-kicker Eric Hannum and offensive lineman Sione Tafuna. Tafuna backed up D.B. Wentling at center and Hannum had eight punts for an average of 43.8 yards a kick.
Hannum was expected to redshirt that year, but didn't after regular punter Chad Shrout missed 1996 because of the death of his mom. Tafuna went on a mission after the 1997 season and returned for his final year.
There are several other current players who watched from the sidelines that night. They are fifth-year seniors Joaquin Avila, Robert Kemfort, Anthony Smith, Ricky Lumford and Davey deLaura.
Paul Arnett, Star-Bulletin
Ka Leo O Hawaii