Weakside linebacker Tanuvasa Moe was helped off the field with an injured hamstring during Saturday's win over San Jose State. Moe did not make the trip to Boise.

Battered Warriors hobble
into their toughest test
of the season

Hawaii won't be anywhere
near full strength against
No. 18 Boise State

Hyper-extended elbows. Wrenched knees. Sprained ankles. Strained hamstrings. Dislocated and subluxed shoulders.

The injuries and illnesses suffered by the Hawaii football team this year were diverse and plentiful, but typical. The appendix ailment to Kila Kamakawiwo'ole, though, is as different as it is dangerous. The junior defensive end is fortunate it was diagnosed before he got on the team plane yesterday for the game at Boise State tomorrow. A person can die from a burst appendix.

Hawaii At Boise State

Where: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho

When: Friday, 2:05 p.m.

TV: Live, ESPN2

Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM

Internet: KKEA1420AM.com

Key Matchup

Hawaii receivers vs. Boise State secondary: For the Warriors to have a chance against the Broncos, they must fully exploit one of UH's few on-paper advantages: its passing game against Boise's pass defense. This means precise reads and routes and no dropped passes for Jason Rivers, Chad Owens, Gerald Welch and Britton Komine. Also, quarterback Tim Chang, who has a history of poor passing in poor weather, must throw with his usual accuracy regardless of the temperature or precipitation. Chang must also be aware of Broncos cornerback Gabe Franklin, who has 16 career interceptions.

"Our concern now is with the young man's health," defensive coordinator George Lumpkin said. He added that the steady Kamakawiwo'ole, who started all six games, will miss at least three games and maybe the rest of the season.

The UH coaches understand injuries occur -- that's why they have more than 100 players (60 on the road) for a game that requires 11 on the field. But the part that is hard for them to grasp is why. Why so many, and why now when the Warriors (3-3, 3-2 WAC) have a short week to prepare for the toughest game of the year, tomorrow at the isolated lair of the undefeated and 18th-ranked Broncos (7-0, 4-0).

"We've got so many guys banged up," coach June Jones said. "It's frustrating."

Before the Warriors left yesterday, their last home practice featured a first-team defense that had only six starters from the beginning of the season: tackles Lui Fuga and Matt Faga, strongside linebacker Chad Kapanui, cornerbacks Kenny Patton and Abraham Elimimian and safety Leonard Peters. Fuga, Faga, Patton and Elimimian have missed considerable time and none are at 100 percent physically.

The other starters were ends Tony Akpan and Ikaika Alama-Francis, weakside linebacker Brad Kalilimoku, middle linebacker Watson Ho'ohuli and safety Matt Manuma. None were on the two-deep chart a year ago.

Defensive end Mel Purcell made the trip despite a bruised sternum that has kept him out of practice this week. So did starting middle linebacker Ikaika Curnan, coming off two missed games with a high-ankle sprain. Weakside linebacker Tanuvasa Moe, hobbled by a hamstring woe, did not get on the plane.

Not the best situation to go up against the nation's most productive offense 44.14 (points per game).

"We'll be fine," Lumpkin said. "We have some good players people don't know about."

Boise State coach Dan Hawkins admitted it makes getting ready for the Warriors a little bit more difficult since he doesn't know which specific defenders will play for UH. But he said most of the Broncos' preparation is scheme related.

"We'll just prepare for their best 11, the players they put on the field for (the season-opener) against Florida Atlantic," BSU quarterback Jared Zabransky said.

The Broncos, favored by more than three touchdowns, appear to have the edge in almost every area -- even the weather, which might dip down into the 40s. But UH has statistical advantages in turnovers (plus-7 to minus-2) and with its passing offense (No. 2 nationally with 347.3 yards per game) against Boise's passing defense (No. 103 at 265.0).

If those numbers hold up, Hawaii quarterback Tim Chang will become the NCAA all-time career passing yardage leader. He needs 241 yards to pass Ty Detmer's 15,031 yards.

Chang said he is more concerned with trying to get UH's first road win of the season.

"We feel really good about our chances, every game. They're going to have to stop us on defense and we're going to have to stop them. It's going to be a battle back and forth and hopefully we get the breaks going our way," he said.

Jones is, of course, hoping for a monumental upset.

"They're a really high tempo team at home. They do a ton of things. They're very well-coached and have a tremendous homefield advantage. Everything is their way. We're going in there with nothing to lose. Play loose, and just go play. Nobody expects us to win. We know we have a chance," he said. "The opportunity is there, certainly. But again, you put that much on one game and it doesn't work out ... it's one game. It's one game. We come home and play five or six more after that."

The Warriors hope six. That would mean they win at least seven in the regular season and qualify for a third-consecutive Hawaii Bowl. If they don't win tomorrow, they must take four of the remaining five to do so.

If Hawaii can pull off an upset tomorrow, it would be the biggest win in Jones' six years at UH. Every injury makes it less likely, but every injury makes it more of a miracle if it somehow happens.

Manuma said the Warriors are up to the challenge despite their depleted ranks.

"It's always good to play the best and this is the kind of game that will measure our character," he said. "We've been down this season. Hopefully we can come together, injuries and all, and make it through with a big win on TV."



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