Sports Notebook


UH O-line keeps
Tide at bay

Hawaii assistant Mike Cavanaugh didn't commit to saying that all five of his offensive linemen would start again next week.

"It looks like it," he said after the unit didn't give up any sacks and put in an effective overall performance in yesterday's 37-29 victory over Alabama.

"They did a great job with pass protection," he added. "Obviously, it wasn't perfect, but it looks like we've found (the starters)."

All season, Cavanaugh has tried various combinations, looking for the right mix of players to fill the five spots.

Cavanaugh thought the play of tackles Tala Esera and Brandon Eaton was particularly impressive. Center Derek Faavi and guards Uriah Moenoa and Samson Satele also contributed to the protection of quarterbacks Jason Whieldon and Tim Chang.

Playing left tackle, Esera succeeded in holding off Crimson Tide right defensive end Antwan Odom, who had two of four sacks in Alabama's victory over Hawaii last year.

"It's all technique," Esera said. "That's what Coach always says and that's what it was today. He (Odom) was big, physical and fast, but I knew I had to block him and it turned out that I did block him. When you use the right technique, you can block anybody."

Little big man: Lance Samuseva wasn't content with simply holding his ground yesterday.

As a defensive tackle, Samuseva has proven reliable in maintaining his position in the middle of the Hawaii defensive front and clogging up the line of scrimmage.

Yesterday, Samuseva turned up the heat on the Crimson Tide and had three of the Warriors' 15 tackles for losses, including two sacks. He also had a safety that gave UH the lead in the third quarter.

"Lance has been the unsung hero," UH defensive coordinator George Lumpkin said. "He's always there, he's always doing the job. He just came alive tonight with some big sacks. Lance has always been the most steady guy we have down there."

Samuseva said his performance came down to a matter of trust.

"I trusted in everything that I did during the week," Samuseva said. "It helped me out and the team helped me out, being where they were supposed to be."

Listed generously at 6-feet, 309 pounds, Samuseva lined up against an Alabama front that averaged 6-foot-5, 300 pounds per man.

"He wasn't supposed to show up today -- he's too little, he's too short, he's not big enough," UH defensive line coach Vantz Singletary said. "I think he showed the world, and I think he inspired a lot of high school kids who have people telling them they're too little, they're too short. He displayed everything today."

Samuseva made one of the game's biggest plays, sacking Alabama's Brodie Croyle for a safety in the third quarter.

"Coach Singletary always talks about finishing the play," Samuseva said. "I just said to myself, 'I'm not going to stop, I'm just going to keep going,' and it took me straight to the quarterback."

Position switch: Senior Lyle Castro, who worked out as an offensive lineman most of the season, officially entered Hawaii's stable of running backs.

He got in for two pass plays and his assignment was to block.

"It was exciting to play against a big team," said Castro, who is 5-foot-11 and 258 pounds. "It's a lot different than practice -- much, much faster.

"I'm finishing the season as a running back," he added with a grin. "Hopefully I'll get in against Boise State.

WAC pride: Hawaii's win yesterday was the first by a Western Athletic Conference team over a Southeastern Conference opponent this season. The WAC was 0-4 against the SEC entering the contest at Aloha Stadium.

"This is also a great win for the WAC schools, more than anything," UH cornerback Abraham Elimimian said, "that a team from the WAC can beat a team from the SEC."

Hawaii is 3-5 against current SEC teams. UH is 2-0 against South Carolina, but those wins came when the Gamecocks were an independent. In addition to last year's loss to Alabama, UH also lost to Arkansas (then a member of the Southwest Conference) and Kentucky once each and Tennessee twice.

Hawaii had never beaten a team while in the SEC.

Brewster running hard: One guy who would not blink when Alabama came to town was sure to be UH running back Michael Brewster. He'd already seen lots of SEC competition. He was a transfer from Tennessee.

So it should have been no surprise that Brewster played a key role in the Hawaii win, leading a Hawaii rushing attack that was good for 134 yards. He took a shovel pass for 43 yards, had a long run of 27 and ran hard all night, bulling in for a 2-point conversion that gave UH a 24-21 lead.

"It's the line," he said later. "The line just said follow them. And I believed in them."

Short yardage: It was the first time in 21 games that Chang was held to less than 100 yards passing. The last time was against UTEP on Sept. 21, 2002.


Tide nearly overcome
offensive struggles

Alabama's greatest scoring threat wasn't necessarily on offense.

Its special teams and defense nearly compensated for an offense that had trouble getting into the end zone in the second half.

Cornerback Anthony Madison got a hand on Nolan Miranda's field-goal attempt in the third quarter and Roman Harper returned it 73 yards for the touchdown.

"It's a team effort. (Derrick) Pope blocked the guy down. I saw a seam and just ran for it inside and blocked the kick and Harper scooped up the ball," Madison said. "We've been having problems on offense all year.

"We knew the defense would have to make the plays. We kind of put the pressure on ourselves. We have the playmaking ability on defense. Our offense, we need to work on some playmakers in the offseason."

It was the seventh time this season Alabama scored on a return. Against Auburn, kickoff returner Brandon Brooks went 96 yards for a TD.

James owns a new record: Chris James' block of Kurt Milne's punt in the third quarter was his fourth of the season. James set the single-season record for Alabama with the most blocked kicks.

"We saw something there in their protection that we could take advantage of and Chris made a nice play on that," special teams coach Dave Ungerer said.

Hawaii defensive lineman Travis LaBoy looked for the end zone after picking off a deflected Brodie Croyle pass last night.

See you in 'Bear' country: The Tide may not be rolling through Hawaii for a while but that doesn't mean the Warriors can't pay a visit to 'Bear' country.

UA athletic director Mal Moore has discussed hosting the Warriors with Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier. Moore said that he also spoke with Hawaii coach June Jones earlier this week.

"We would like to do that. (June's) very receptive," Moore said. "Hopefully, we can match up a date a couple years down the way. We're close to being filled in 2006."

A Shaud short: Alabama's Shaud Williams needed 210 rushing yards to set the school single-season record, held by Bobby Humphrey (Humphrey ran for 1,471 yards in 1986).

Williams started strong, with a 56-yard run in the first quarter to set up his own 1-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide a 7-0 lead. He had 63 yards in the first quarter.

But he was limited to 7 yards in the second quarter, and finished with 112 yards, his fifth 100-yard effort this year.

Williams' 2003 total of 1,374 yards stands third all-time in Alabama history, behind Williams and Shaun Alexander's 1,383 in 1999.

Williams' 18 rushing attempts put him in the top 10 all-time at Alabama in that category.

Close again: Alabama's season-ending loss was its sixth by eight points or fewer this season.

The Crimson Tide's margin of defeat broke double digits against Georgia (14 points), Mississippi (15) and LSU (24). They came up one score short against Oklahoma (seven), Northern Illinois (three), Arkansas (three), Tennessee (eight), Auburn (five) and Hawaii (eight).

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