IT looked like a long, lonely walk, as June Jones strode through the corner end zone field turf and into another sea of dashed expectations.
UHs walk long after
not walking the walk
We all thought he was lying. Didn't you? Coach talk, that's what it sounded like. But as the game wore on, as Jones shook that last handshake with Chris Tormey, made that last walk to the locker room, it dawned on him, it dawned on us, just how right he turned out to be.
"Evenly matched," Jones had said. He has to say that, we thought. He's being polite. We didn't believe it. Who knows if he even believed it. Evenly matched? Nevada was picked dead last in the WAC by some. Nevada was blown out in its first two games. The Pack couldn't score more than seven points against BYU.
Meanwhile, Hawaii was flying high. Wasn't it? Timmy Chang was leading the nation in total offense. Wasn't he? Everybody on the team was going pro. Yeah?
We heard it, we read it, we wrote it, we bought it.
Travis Laboy has a lot of muscles. And Chris Brown is a big, bad man. Wayne Hunter is going to make a million dollars. Nate Jackson and Jacob Espiau are going to the NFL. Kelvin Millhouse has everything the pros are looking for. Laanui Correa is so psycho he walks around the house with his helmet on.
So ... How is it that the chains kept moving? How is it that the pile kept moving? How did some guy named Kretschmer have 100 yards by the third quarter? How does a team of future first-round draft choices not dominate the WAC?
We said it here Friday, we saw it in action yesterday: Hawaii's defense is improving, but it is still unproven.
Nevada ran at will. The Wolf Pack carved Hawaii's defense up. It looked like an episode of Iron Chef out there.
This is how you shut down the run-and-shoot. This is how you contain Ashley Lelie. Not with double coverage -- Montana found that out. But with an offense of your own. A running game. Hawaii can't score if it doesn't have the ball, not if Nevada keeps moving those chains.
If you're trying to outscore someone in this situation, you have to hold serve. You have to score every chance you get. You have to be perfect.
Timmy Chang is good. But he's not perfect.
And in the second half yesterday, as Chance Kretschmer ran through Hawaii's defense, as Nevada ran out the clock, as Lelie could only prowl the sideline, it dawned on us: Evenly matched.
Hawaii and Nevada are evenly matched. They really are. And in this season of new hope, that dashes quite a few expectations.
Jones warned us. He did. But he also told us how great Montana was. He also said that Vince Manuwai could have played in the NFL at age 18. Another day, another Warrior who will play on Sunday.
It's hard not to get swept up in all that. It's hard not to buy into the hype. But 28-20 Nevada wipes all that out. Hope still lives, but hype is gone. Even Hawaii's great offensive line collapsed at times yesterday. We saw it with our own eyes on TV.
It was Mike Cavanaugh, the line's coach, who once warned us that in football, reputation is no substitute for results.
"The tape don't lie," he said.
Expectations are over today, replaced by reality. If you have any doubts, check the tape.
Ka Leo O Hawaii
Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at email@example.com