Warriors have
everything to gain

A win tonight against Alabama
could bring national respect

Probable starters
Press Box

By Dave Reardon

When Hawaii played a big-name national power in football in the past, the cry was always, "We've got nothing to lose."

No longer true, at least today at 2:45 p.m. when the Warriors (9-2) take the Aloha Stadium turf against No. 14 Alabama (9-3) and its legacy of 12 national championships.

Alabama is to football what Hawaii is to surfing, but UH does have a ranking of its own -- No. 24 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll -- that will disappear with a blowout loss. This nationally televised game will show if the Warriors, who have won six games in a row, truly belong among the elite.

Hawaii was an 11 1/2-point underdog last night. That's down from 14 earlier in the week, probably because of the news that quarterback Tim Chang's left knee and right thumb are healed from the beating he took in last week's 20-19 victory against Cincinnati.

Hawaii vs. Alabama

When: Today, 2:45 p.m, gates open 11:15 a.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium
Tickets: Sold out
TV: Live, ESPN
Radio: 1420-AM

The triggerman of the Warriors' nation-leading pass attack said Wednesday he will be ready to play, and looked it Thursday when he practiced for the first time this week.

"Physically I'll be there Saturday," Chang said. "I have to keep working mentally to get ready for a tough team. I can play on Saturday. Put it that way."

The bigger concern for Hawaii might be an adjusted offensive line because of a knee injury to starting left guard Shayne Kajioka. Hawaii coach June Jones said Thursday that Kajioka likely won't start; Lui Fuata moves to left guard and freshman Derek Faavi replaces Fuata at center.

While line coach Mike Cavanaugh and Faavi's teammates are confident in his ability, this is the first time all season UH's offensive line doesn't start its original five -- and Faavi will make the blocking calls.

Alabama's defensive line is considered one of the best in the nation. Both starting tackles, Jarret Johnson and Kenny King, are Outland Trophy candidates. Ends Antwan Odom and Kindal Moorehead have eight sacks apiece. They are all between 6-foot-3 and 6-5 and 273 and 294 pounds.

But Hawaii's offensive line is also outstanding; UH has allowed 12 sacks all season, yielding one per 47 pass attempts. Right guard Vince Manuwai said this will be the unit's biggest challenge of the season.

"We have to time our punch perfectly this week," the All-America candidate said. "As offensive linemen, we need to pick the right time. If we get them off balance and knock them away, it's very hard for them to start over and make another move to get back into the play."

The Crimson Tide offensive line is also imposing, featuring 6-8, 312-pound left tackle Wesley Britt, a freshman All-America selection last year.

"They've got players at every position," Jones said. "They're big, fast and physical. They're better than us (individually), but we'll show up and give it a try."

While UH's players promise not to be star-struck, many of their earliest memories of college football are of Alabama.

"It's the Crimson Tide, man, it's big-time," linebacker Chris Brown said. "It's a team I've been watching since I was a child. It's like a dream come true for me to step on the field with a team of that caliber. We have a chance to show the world that we're big-time, too, we're not just a fluke. We're here to stay."

Hawaii has won nine in a row at home. But Franchione has twice brought teams here and beaten the Rainbows; Texas Christian three years ago (34-14) and New Mexico in 1994 (38-24).

The Tide practiced at Aloha Stadium yesterday morning after arriving late Thursday because of a mechanical problem on the charter plane. But Franchione, who wants his players to enjoy their visit, is worried more about how Hawaii's unique attack will affect his team than the exotic surroundings.

"For them hanging 500 yards on a team is no big deal," he said. "You have to make sure your team doesn't get depressed when they drive the ball six or seven minutes to score, and Hawaii comes back and scores in a minute and a half. They can hit two or three passes and get down the field in a hurry. They will throw 50 or 60 passes, so we will have to be ready for that defensively."

Alabama's defense is ranked third in the nation, but even those who successfully opposed Florida's Fun 'n' Gun when Steve Spurrier was the Gators' coach haven't seen a constant onslaught of passing like Hawaii's run-and-shoot.

"My freshman year we played against Louisiana Tech," Alabama defensive back Gerald Dixon said. "They threw the ball a lot, but these guys have better skill players."

Junior rover Brooks Daniels is the Tide's top tackler. His style of play is similar to Hawaii's Pisa Tinoisamoa: fast, tough and athletic.

Alabama is the opposite of Hawaii on offense. The Crimson Tide control the ball with three tailbacks -- Shaud Williams, Santonio Beard and Ray Hudson -- taking turns running behind the huge offensive line.

Hawaii's defense has not been consistent against the run, but the Warriors have had their moments, especially in big situations. UH's defense played well in the clutch in victories at Fresno State and Rice and last week against Cincinnati.

"We're expecting a big game from our D-line and our whole front seven," Brown said. "This is the best offensive line we've ever faced. Big. Real big, quick and fast and know what they're doing."

Sort of like 'Bama tailgaters. They'll be out in force today, as 4,600 Crimson Tide faithful made the trip. This game serves as a replacement for a bowl appearance for the fans and the team; Alabama is ineligible for postseason because of NCAA probation.

"I'm just glad I have another game to play," quarterback Tyler Watts said. "You don't want to end your career with a loss to Auburn or anyone else."

Alabama fell 17-7 to the "school down the road," as Franchione calls Auburn, last week in one of college football's biggest rivalries.

As for the Warriors, they made an impression on the national scene last weekend as footage from a brawl after the Cincinnati game made news on the continent. They'd like to make waves this time by beating the Tide -- in 60 minutes of football.

"Ultimately we want to show that what we do is play football," Brown said. "Just like they love football in the South, we love it here. We want to show them we're not thugs. We just like to play the game and be competitive."


Probable starters


WR 84 Triandos Luke 6-0 190 Jr.

LT 70 Wesley Britt 6-8 312 So.

LG 78 Justin Smiley 6-4 301 So.

C 58 Alonzo Ephraim 6-2 303 Sr.

RG 71 Marico Portis 6-3 301 Sr.

RT 51 Evan Mathis 6-5 294 So.

TE 88 Clint Johnston 6-4 248 Fr.

QB 14 Tyler Watts 6-3 220 Sr.

WB 31 Greg McLain 6-3 230 Fr.

TB 34 Santonio Beard 6-1 225 Jr.

WR 7 Sam Collins 6-1 184 Sr.

DE 98 Antwan Odom 6-5 273 So.

DT 96 Jaret Johnson 6-4 287 Sr.

NT 55 Kenny King 6-3 280 Sr.

DE 54 Kindal Moorehead 6-4 294 Sr.

LB 16 Cornelius Wortham 6-1 233 Jr.

LB 8 Freddie Roach 6-2 238 Sr.

RV 18 Brooks Daniels 6-2 205 Jr.

CB 4 Gerald Dixon 5-10 192 Sr.

FS 20 Charles Jones 6-0 183 Jr.

SS 24 Waine Bacon 5-10 187 Sr.

CB 25 Hirchel Bolden 6-0 196 Sr.

PK 43 Kyle Robinson 5-10 175 Jr.

KO 22 Brian Bostick 5-11 215 So.

P 44 Lane Bearden 6-2 210 Jr.

LS 50 Nick Ridings 6-0 246 Jr.

PR 21 Shaud Williams 5-8 189 Jr.

KR 27 Ray Hudson 5-11 194 So.


WR 18 Justin Colbert 5-8 170 Sr.

WR 81 Clifton Herbert 5-8 170 Jr.

or 2 Chad Owens 5-9 177 So.

LT 70 Wayne Hunter 6-6 299 Jr.

LG 53 Lui Fuata 6-2 315 Sr.

C 59 Derek Faavi 6-0 266 Fr.

RG 65 Vince Manuwai 6-2 309 Sr.

RT 69 Uriah Moenoa 6-3 327 So.

WR 84 Britton Komine 5-9 184 So.

or 4 Nate Ilaoa 5-9 204 Fr.

WR 19 Jeremiah Cockheran 6-0 193 Jr.

QB 14 Tim Chang 6-2 191 So.

RB 24 Thero Mitchell 5-10 210 Sr.

LE 58 La'anui Correa 6-5 264 Sr.

LT 97 Isaac Sopoaga 6-3 315 Jr.

RT 92 Lance Samuseva 5-11 290 Jr.

RE 93 Houston Ala 6-1 250 Jr.

LB 44 Matt Wright 6-1 225 Sr.

LB 54 Chris Brown 6-1 255 Sr.

LB 10 Pisa Tinoisamoa 6-0 218 Sr.

CB 37 Abraham Elimimian 5-10 173 So.

SS 33 Hyrum Peters 5-8 188 Jr.

FS 17 David Gilmore 6-0 197 Jr.

CB 3 Kelvin Millhouse 6-1 205 Jr.

P 49 Mat McBriar 6-0 221 Sr.

K 47 Justin Ayat 5-11 205 So.

LS 45 Tanuvasa Moe 5-11 218 Fr.

PR 1 Mike Bass 5-6 158 So.

KR 20 John West 5-10 180 Jr.

H 7 Shawn Withy-Allen 6-4 219 Sr.


ALABAMA (9-3, 6-2 SEC)

Aug. 31 Middle Tennessee State W, 39-34

Sept. 7 at Oklahoma L, 27-37

Sept. 14 North Texas W, 33-7

Sept. 21 Southern Miss W, 20-7

Sept. 28 at Arkansas W, 30-12

Oct. 5 Georgia L, 25-27

Oct. 19 Mississippi W, 42-7

Oct. 26 at Tennessee W, 34-14

Nov. 2 at Vanderbilt W, 30-8

Nov. 9 Mississippi State W, 28-14

Nov. 16 at Louisiana State W, 31-0

Nov. 23 Auburn L, 7-17

Today at Hawaii

HAWAII (9-2, 7-1 WAC)

Aug. 31 Eastern Illinois W, 61-36

Sept. 6 at Brigham Young L, 32-35

Sept. 21 at Texas-El Paso W, 31-6

Sept. 28 Southern Methodist W, 42-10

Oct. 5 at Boise State L, 31-58

Oct. 12 Nevada W, 59-34

Oct. 19 Tulsa W, 37-14

Oct. 25 at Fresno State W, 31-21

Nov. 2 San Jose State W, 40-31

Nov. 16 at Rice W, 33-28

Nov. 23 Cincinnati W, 20-19

Today Alabama

Dec. 7 San Diego State

Per-game comparison


28.6 Points 37.9

16.7 Points Allowed 26.5

399.5 Total Offense 503.6

199.3 Rushing yards 118.7

200.3 Passing yards 384.9

+0.92 Turnovers -0.36

Key players

Passing A C I Yards TD

Tyler Watts (UA) 146 93 3 1,156 5

Tim Chang (UH) 496 276 14 3,541 20

Rushing A Yards Avg TD

Shaud Williams (UA) 91 630 6.9 4

John West (UH) 44 354 8.0 5

Receiving Rec Yards Avg TD

Triandos Luke (UA) 35 426 12.2 2

Justin Colbert (UH) 71 996 14.0 6

Scoring TD FG XP Pts Avg

Santonio Beard (UA) 12 0 0 72 6.0

Justin Ayat (UH) 0 13 48 87 7.9

Tackles S A Tot Avg FL/S

Brooks Daniels (UA) 65 42 107 8.9 6/3

Pisa Tinoisamoa (UH) 68 26 94 8.5 13/3.5

WAC standings


W L Pct W L Pct Str

Boise State 8 0 1.000 11 1 .917 W10

Hawaii 7 1 .875 9 2 .818 W5

Fresno State 5 2 .714 7 5 .583 W3

San Jose State 4 4 .500 6 7 .462 L1

Nevada 4 4 .500 5 7 .417 L2

LaTech 3 4 .429 4 7 .364 W1

Rice 3 5 .375 4 7 .364 L2

SMU 3 5 .375 3 9 .250 W2

UTEP 1 7 .125 2 10 .167 L5

Tulsa 1 7 .125 1 11 .083 L4


Alabama at Hawaii

Note: Conference standings are final

UH Athletics

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