Hawaii expects
Nevada to pass

The UH secondary is
prepared to face a lot of
throwing from the Wolf Pack


By Dave Reardon

Nevada's four-receiver offense is by no means identical to Hawaii's run-and-shoot. But the basic philosophy is the same: Everybody go out for a pass.

So the Warrior defenders have lots of experience trying to stop the Wolf Pack's style of attack. They've worked against it every practice since June Jones took over as UH coach in 1999.

"We see the pass a lot. They run some of the same routes and we see pass every day," Hawaii safety Sean Butts said. "It's the opposite of when we play option teams. It's hard to play the option, but when we play passing teams, because we see it every day, it's a little bit easier to play against."

Yesterday, UH prepared with lots of reps for its five and six defensive back formations.

"We're going to be base (4-3-4) the whole way," defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said, tongue-in-cheek. "Obviously we'll play nickel (five defensive backs). I wouldn't say Okie (six DBs) because we haven't played it very much this year."

Hawaii comes off a 58-31 loss at Boise State last Saturday in which the Broncos slowed the Warriors by playing soft coverage and not letting UH receivers get big gains after catches.

Warrior linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said Hawaii won't emulate that approach, but will stick with its blitzing defensive style.

"We're not going to hold back," the UH's leading tackler said. "We're going to be as aggressive as usual and try to play our game. We lacked on technique (against BSU), and it was all mental. I think talent-wise we can match up well with this team if we bring our game. If we don't, it will be another Boise State. But we feel that guys are finally coming around and starting to get a grasp."

Safety Keith Bhonapha said the Warriors will pay special attention to Nate Burleson, who leads NCAA Division I-A with 53 receptions (his 682 yards and five touchdown catches pace the WAC) -- but not to the point of forgetting about Nevada's other receivers, like Tim Fleming, who has 28 catches for 332 yards and three TDs.

"No. 9 (Fleming) runs some nice fade routes," Bhonapha said. "He's good at going up and getting the ball."

Hawaii is second in the conference in pass defense, yielding 191.4 yards per game. The Warriors realize that might increase after Saturday's game. The only numbers the Warriors are really concerned about are the ones in the final score -- especially since Nevada beat UH 28-20 last year in Reno.

"They love to throw the ball. All we have to do is remember what happened to us last year," Abraham Elimimian said. "Me and (fellow cornerback) Kelvin (Millhouse) made a promise to ourselves that some guys are going to pay. They embarrassed us last year."

Jones said it will come down to which team can put up a strong pass rush and come up with turnovers. UH did neither last week.

"It's going to be kind of a shootout," he said. "Whoever gets the most sacks, whoever takes the ball away the most is probably going to win the game."

Hawaii vs. Nevada

When: Saturday, 6:05 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium
Tickets: $21 sideline, $16 end zone, $12 students/seniors, UH students free (super rooter only). Available at Aloha Stadium, except for student tickets at Stan Sheriff Center. Also at Ticket Plus outlets or by calling (808) 526-4400.
TV: KFVE (Channel 5), delay at 10 p.m., with rebroadcast Sunday at 9 a.m. Also available live on Pay-Per-View. Call 625-8100 on Oahu or (866) 566-7784 on neighbor islands to subscribe.
Radio: 1420-AM.

UH Athletics

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