Kalani Simpson

Hopefully, first step is
hardest for new Warriors

YOU could almost see the vapor trail. You could almost feel the sonic boom.

Leonard Peters had the angle, but Reggie Bush had the leap.

His first highlight of the season. Forty-one yards. Peters had him, but then he dove, and he was gone, slipped away, just like that. He arrived in the end zone with a splash.

That's the way it was, yesterday.

"SC was SC," Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan would say.

And that about sums it up.

"It was a great trip," USC coach Pete Carroll said, from somewhere in the middle of a crush of L.A. media in the victorious locker room.

By the end of it, it was 63-17. By the end of it, Bush had long retired, having left early with 158 total yards and a SportsCenter score, enough to call it a day.

By the end of it, USC's No. 3 back was tacking on a break-60 score, not to run it up, but just because he was still running. And when you thought you had him, he, too, was gone.

By the end of it, Peters was choking back tears, crushed at the thought he might never play again this season. He suffered a sprained knee. He sniffed, limping, carrying his crutches in his right hand. He would not walk on them. He carried them as he limped.

That's the way it ended, yesterday. But somehow, strangely, that isn't the only picture we see. This game took a while to get going, as these games involving No. 1s and those not No. 1 often do.

Both teams were just warming up. Two-time national champ USC showed awesome potential, but hit full-throttle only occasionally.

For UH, the fact that it, too, was only getting started was good news, indeed.

Yeah, it ended predictably. But in the middle ...

USC could do whatever it wanted. I have rarely seen a display of greatness that seemed so ho-hum.

Meanwhile, in the first half, UH was pulling off what might have been the greatest 3-point offensive performance of all time.

Hawaii moved the ball against the No. 1 team in the country. Both UH quarterbacks -- Brennan and Tyler Graunke -- got banged up, but looked competent. If this is what they do against USC, you have to think the kids will be all right against the likes of, say, Nevada and New Mexico State.

"Coaches and players say it's a lot easier when you get in the game," Brennan said. "And it was."

"I saw enough good things offensively that I know we're going to be a good team," June Jones said.

"We moved the chains up and down the field and we just couldn't convert," Graunke said.

"We were overcoming our own ineptitude and still doing it," Jones said.

Yes, if you squint real hard -- and UH players and coaches were like Gilbert Gottfried after this game -- you can see why they see reason for hope.

Hey, this is USC. Everyone else should be easy after this.

If they feel good after this one, they're ready for the world.

If it's possible to make you feel less than disheartened, in the middle of a 63-17, somehow UH just did it.

Of course, then came the third quarter, and the monster awoke with 28 points in 15 minutes. Of course, there was Brennan, getting blasted on three consecutive plays and sacked on fourth and 6.

And there was the defense, which had celebration-worthy stops, a few times, but also left several USC receivers roaming free.

"We didn't get home in time," Hawaii safety Lono Manners put it.

And LenDale White, rumbling through the line.

Hawaii feels good for having survived it, for picking out plays that could have gone the other way, for recalling all the times they came close. They just played the No. 1 team in the country and took every punch.

SC was, indeed, SC. Holy cow, we saw that.

What we don't know yet -- what we'll see as the season goes on -- is if UH was UH.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

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