UH, Rice boast
opposite offenses

But the goal is the same for
the Warriors’ run-and-shoot
and the Owls’ option

HOUSTON » Hawaii linebacker Chad Kapanui, who started against Florida Atlantic two weeks ago, isn't listed among the first 11 defenders against Rice tonight. But he has as much experience against the Owls' wishbone as any of the Warriors, having played as a "designated starter" against it the previous two seasons.

UH vs. Rice

Where: Rice Stadium, Houston
When: Today, 2:05 p.m., Hawaii time
TV: Live, KFVE Channel 5, via Sportswest, also available nationally on ESPN Game Plan.
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM.
Internet: kkea1420am.com

Key Matchup

Before each UH football game this year, the Star-Bulletin will identify a key matchup, and report on how that matchup played out in the game.

UH wide receivers vs. Rice cornerbacks
Hawaii must find a way to stretch Rice's defense so that its bread and butter, short passes to Chad Owens that turn into long gains, can be effective. That means if wide receivers Jason Rivers and Britton Komine can beat cornerbacks Lance Byrd and Raymorris Barnes, the Owls safeties and rovers won't be able to cheat up to stop the short passes -- or help against runs and shovel passes to Michael Brewster and West Kel'ikipi.

For more irony, ask the senior from Roosevelt High School to compare Rice's offense with UH's run-and-shoot.

"It's exactly the same, but opposite," Kapanui said.

Before discounting this because it comes from a man possibly confused because he has played five different positions in his college career, consider the wisdom.

"We pass 60 times a game, they run 60 times a game. The same thing but opposite," said Kapanui, who is expected to play quite a few downs tonight at Rice Stadium despite being listed behind Lono Manners. "When you play a team like Rice, no more second chances. Like against our offense. You do one mistake, could be a touchdown, garans."

Owls linebacker Adam Herrin agreed, if in a different dialect.

"On the offensive side of the ball, we play the opposite of y'all. But the goal is the same, spread out the defense," he said.

The Warriors try to do it vertically and the Owls horizontally.

The difference is like that between Hawaii pidgin and a Texas drawl. The accents and styles are different, but pay attention and it's not that hard to understand.

A crowd expected to be around 30,000 will see which method works better -- this time -- as Hawaii (0-1) and Rice (1-0) tangle in the Western Athletic Conference opener for both. It might be the last time coaches June Jones and Ken Hatfield match their extreme offenses, since the Owls leave for Conference USA after this season.

Both teams have had two weeks to get ready. Hawaii lost its Sept. 4 opener 35-28 in overtime to another group of Owls, the ones from FAU, and Rice beat a different UH, their crosstown rivals, Houston, 10-7. In fact, both teams' last victories came against the Cougars; the Warriors beat the Cougars 54-48 in triple overtime last Christmas in the Hawaii Bowl.

Hatfield said the bye week probably doesn't make that much of a difference for his team tonight. After all, the Owls had to wait nine months to build off of three wins in a row at the end of last season.

"I don't know if (the extra week) helped preparation. There's not much different you can do with us and Hawaii. We've played each other five years, it's been the same coaches, same players. I don't think there's anything monumentally new in philosophy for either of us," he said. "The only thing good I liked about it was healing time for guys who might have missed two games instead of one. I like the time for those guys who got hurt to heal before we get in a nine-game stretch."

Yesterday, Hatfield said at least three offensive starters will be out: center Ross Huebel and left guard Michael Meador (both seniors) and junior left halfback Thomas Lott. Lott was the team's leading rusher last year.

The Warriors are much healthier, with only slotback Se'e Poumele a question mark among the starters, with a nerve injury in his right leg. Kicker Justin Ayat has been effective in practice coming off a groin injury, and running back West Keli'ikipi should give the running game a boost after finally shaking a knee injury from last year that required two surgeries.

Hatfield wasn't far off when he said Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang would be starting against Rice for the sixth time tonight. It's actually the fifth, and the Rice coach would much rather see the Chang of 2000 and 2001 than the 2002 or 2003 version.

Chang was intercepted eight times in 38-13 and 29-24 losses the first two outings, making UH (and Jones) 0-3 overall against the Owls. The 2001 defeat at Aloha Stadium ended with Chang injuring his wrist and sitting out the rest of the year. He later regained the season of eligibility with a medical redshirt.

Chang returned the next year to lead UH past the Owls in a dramatic 33-28 win at Rice Stadium, and then a 41-21 rout last year at Aloha Stadium.

"I'm not really sure why I've done better the last two years," Chang said. "I think we've just done a lot of things better from a team standpoint."

With 369 yards passing today, Chang would move past Philip Rivers to second on the NCAA all-time passing yardage list. He is 1,915 yards behind No. 1, Ty Detmer.

Herrin said Hawaii and Houston share more on offense than their initials.

"(Houston quarterback Kevin) Kolb and Chang are similar in that they are good scramblers and they both can throw deep. And Hawaii and Houston both like to throw screens," he said.

Chang's favorite target is slotback Chad Owens, who holds the early national lead with 13 receptions per game.

Rice will likely play the same type of umbrella defensive scheme that has helped USC, Tulsa and FAU -- among others -- contain Owens and other UH receivers. While such a plan doesn't put much blitz pressure on Chang, it tends to keep receivers from turning short passes into big gains.

"Everybody's got to tackle good when you play Hawaii. Florida Atlantic tackled well and that's a real key," Hatfield said. "They do make a lot of yards after the catch. They're very skilled and they stretch you and get you in one-on-one situations. If you get 'em down and minimize it, you've got a chance. You miss one tackle, and it's a long run. That's what happens a lot of times with their offense, the explosiveness of the offense they have."

Hawaii is expected to use a 4-4 defense to get more defenders close to the line of scrimmage, as the Warriors have done with success against the Owls the past two seasons. But, as with the run-and-shoot, any one lapse in assignment can lead to a touchdown, and UH is much less experienced on defense than in the past two meetings.

"It's really simple, but you have to be consistent, play after play," Warriors linebacker Ikaika Curnan said. "You have to stick with your assignment, no matter what."

Said Kapanui: "I think it's just paying attention to detail. (The coaches) preach alignment and assignment. And this is the game where it's most important, because they run the option probably better than anyone else."

Senior quarterback Greg Henderson is the key to the Owls attack. Depending on how the play develops, he either keeps the ball up the middle, hands off to fullback Ed Bailey, or rolls out to keep or pitch to either left halfback Marcus Rucker or right halfback Joe Moore.

But Hatfield, the fifth-winingest active coach in the nation, always has a gadget or two up his sleeve. He expects to have wide receiver Marcus Battle back from a hip injury. In addition to being one of the WAC's most talented receivers, Battle is also a former quarterback who can throw a pass off a reverse.

"This year they're a little different," Jones said. "Toward the end of the season last year they were back to running what they do. Our linebackers, the D-linemen have basically the same keys, but the back-end players are in for a challenge.

"You have to change it up," he added. "You can't do what you did last year. They're very well-schooled. But you have to do some different things."


Probable starters

X 84 Jason Rivers 6-1 189 So.
H 2 Chad Owens 5-9 177 Sr.
LT 70 Tala Esera 6-3 291 So.
LG 64 Samson Satele 6-2 278 So.
C 59 Derek Faavi 6-0 271 Jr.
RG 69 Uriah Moenoa 6-2 336 Sr.
RT 66 Brandon Eaton 6-2 291 Jr.
Y 7 Se'e Poumele 5-9 171 Sr.
Z 9 Britton Komine 5-10 188 Sr.
QB 14 Tim Chang 6-1 196 Sr.
RB 6 Michael Brewster 5-5 185 Sr.
LE 98 Mel Purcell 6-4 266 Jr.
LT 99 Lui Fuga 6-1 294 Sr.
RT 91 Matt Faga 6-2 324 Sr.
RE 30 Kila Kamakawiwo'ole 6-3 241 Jr.
LB 15 Lono Manners 5-10 204 Jr.
or 5 Chad Kapanui 6-0 226 Sr.
LB 51 Ikaika Curnan 5-10 221 Jr.
LB 45 Tanuvasa Moe 5-11 210 Jr.
CB 37 Abraham Elimimian 5-10 185 Sr.
S 42 Leonard Peters 6-1 184 Jr.
S 22 Lamar Broadway 5-11 175 Jr.
CB 24 Kenny Patton 6-0 187 Sr.
P 25 Kurt Milne 6-0 196 So.
K 47 Justin Ayat 6-0 201 Sr.
Snap 61 Bryce Runge 5-11 236 Jr.
PR 2 Chad Owens 5-9 177 Sr.
KR 82 Ross Dickerson 5-11 190 So.
Hold 25 Kurt Milne 6-0 196 So.

SE 11 Marcus Battle 5-9 180 Jr.
LT 60 Scott Mayhew 6-6 305 Sr.
LG 55 Greg Wilson 6-4 325 Sr.
C 51 Cobey-Joe Cswaykus 6-1 305 Sr.
RG 71 Corey Laxen 6-3 290 So.
RT 50 Rolf Krueger 6-3 290 Sr.
TE 89 Joe Don Wood 6-2 240 Jr.
QB 5 Greg Henderson 5-10 200 Sr.
LHB 4 Marcus Rucker 6-0 200 So.
FB 18 Ed Bailey 5-9 215 Sr.
RHB 7 Joe Moore 5-11 215 Sr.
DE 47 John Syptak 6-2 240 Sr.
DT 92 DeJuan Cooper 6-2 280 So.
NG 90 Jeremy Calahan 6-3 295 Sr.
DE 94 Rob Daniel 6-4 245 Jr.
OLB 27 Omeke Alikor 6-0 215 So.
MLB 48 Adam Herrin 6-1 225 Jr.
ROV 10 Terry Holley 6-2 210 Sr.
BAN 17 Chad Price 5-11 200 So.
CB 8 Lance Byrd 5-11 185 So.
FS 2 Andray Downs 5-9 185 So.
CB 29 Raymorris Barnes 5-8 185 Sr.
41Luke Juist 6-1 190 Fr.
PK 12 Brennan Landry 5-9 185 Jr.
P 85 Jared Scruggs 6-3 190 So.
Snap 64 Drew Clardy 6-6 270 So.
Hold 85 Jared Scruggs 6-3 190 So.
KR 2 Andray Downs 5-9 185 So.
PR 8 Lance Byrd 5-11 185 So.

Statistical comparison
UH Category Rice
28.0 Scoring 10.0
27.0 Rushing 163.0
302.0 Passing 28.0
329.0 Total Offense 191.0
20.0 First Downs 13.0
4.0 FD Rushing 9.0
13.0 FD Passing 2.0
3.0 FD Penalty 2.0
35.0 Points Allowed 7.0
147.0 Rushing Allowed 8.0
298.0 Passing Allowed 204.0
445.0 Total Offense Allowed 212.0
    (above stats are per-game averages)
3-0 Interceptions -- Yards 1-0
39.1 Punting 41.5
7-60 Penalties 6-55
1-0 Fumbles-lost 2-1
28:48 Avg. Time of Possession 31:30
3-15 Third Down Conversion 3-13
2-4 Fourth Down Conversion 1-2

Key players
Passing A C I Yards TD
Tim Chang, UH 66 38 0 302 2
Greg Henderson, RU 7 3 1 28 0
Rushing A Yards Avg TD
Michael Brewster, UH 6 26 4.3 2
Mike Bass, UH 2 5 2.5 0
Greg Henderson, RU 27 74 2.7 0
Ed Bailey, RU 16 57 3.6 1
Receiving Rec Yards Avg TD
Chad Owens, UH 13 89 6.8 1
Jason Rivers, UH 6 56 9.3 0
Ben Wiggins, RU 2 21 10.5 0
Quinton Smith, RU 1 7 7.0 0



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