UH hopes to come out fighting against Irish


POSTED: Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The waiting is almost over.

The Hawaii football team has been counting down to Christmas Eve since Notre Dame was announced as the Warriors' opponent in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.





Who: Notre Dame (6-6) at Hawaii (7-6)

When: 3 p.m. tomorrow TV: ESPN


Radio: KKEA 1420-Am


Line: Notre Dame by 11/2



Now just a few inexorable hours separate the Warriors from their shot at playing one of college football's iconic programs.

“;The more you think about it the slower it comes,”; Hawaii safety Keao Monteilh said.

While the Warriors and Fighting Irish have enjoyed the trappings of bowl week, the surrounding festivities will soon fade into the background at Aloha Stadium.

“;It's been well organized, our guys have handled everything really well, so now it's right down to game time,”; Hawaii head coach Greg McMackin said yesterday after the Warriors' final full practice of the season.

The following is a look at the matchup for the third all-time meeting between Hawaii and Notre Dame:

When Hawaii has the ball: The Hawaii Bowl offers the Hawaii offense a shot at redemption.

The Warriors were rolling along in the regular-season finale against Cincinnati until an interception return and a safety contributed to the Bearcats' fourth-quarter comeback.

Hawaii quarterback Greg Alexander completed 65 percent of his passes and threw 12 touchdown passes after taking control of the offense in late October.

He's thrown just two interceptions in that span.

The Fighting Irish have also taken note of Alexander's ability to make plays on the ground.

“;He doesn't force a lot of balls,”; Notre Dame linebacker Maurice Crum said. “;If it's not open he'll pull it down and get what he can get.”;

The break allowed the Warriors to return to full strength with the return of sophomore running back/slotback Kealoha Pilares, who was slowed by leg and foot injuries throughout the second half of the season.

The Hawaii offensive line and running backs will need to give Alexander time to get into rhythm with a receiver corps led by Mike Washington and Greg Salas.

The Fighting Irish feature a 3-4 base defense, but will shift into four-man fronts.

“;They give you a lot of different looks,”; UH offensive coordinator Ron Lee said. “;They've got some great athletes and they come after the quarterback.”;

When Notre Dame has the ball: Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen - the nation's most heralded freshmen last year - got off to a strong start as a sophomore, throwing 18 touchdown passes against nine interceptions in the Fighting Irish's first eight games.

But Weis said Clausen and the offense were “;out of synch”; over the final third of the regular season, when he accounted for only two touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Although the miscues are reflected in Clausen's stats, Weis said he watched film with the receivers to iron out errors in the routes that contributed to the incompletions and interceptions.

McMackin expects Notre Dame to mix up their alignments, from spreading the field with three receivers to going with double tight ends.

Sophomore Golden Tate leads Notre Dame with 903 yards and seven touchdowns. Michael Floyd's 702 yards and seven TDs are Notre Dame freshman records and he's expected to return after missing the last two games with a knee injury.

A year after giving up an NCAA-record 58 sacks in 2007, the Fighting Irish have surrendered only 20 this season.

The Hawaii defense has dropped opposing quarterbacks 34 times, and will try to force Clausen into bad throws.

“;The thing they do best is rush the passer,”; Weis said. “;That plays into the type of player (McMackin's) got, he's got a lot of fast guys and lets them run to the ball. ... It starts with the pressure up front.”;

Special teams: Hawaii special teams coach Ikaika Malloe faced Notre Dame twice as a player at Washington, with the Huskies losing both times.

Getting that first win could hinge on preventing the Irish from pulling off big plays in the kicking game.

That task includes containing Notre Dame's kickoff return duo of receiver Golden Tate and running back Armando Allen.

“;The last time we saw a guy like (Tate) was at Florida and Brandon James,”; Malloe said, referencing the Gator burner who scored on a punt return against UH in the season opener. “;That's the type of talent we're dealing with. If he breaks free, he's gone. We have to be on point on our fundamentals.”;

Hawaii counters with Malcolm Lane, who ranks 11th nationally in kickoff returns. The UH return unit will collide with a Notre Dame coverage unit that limited returners to an NCAA-best 16.17 yards per attempt.

The Irish have blocked three punts, and deflected three others.

Key matchup

Hawaii DE David Veikune vs. N.D. OT Sam Young

Facing Young represents one of the biggest challenges Veikune has had this season.

How big? Try 6-foot-8, 330-pounds big.

“;He's a big man and moves his feet well,”; UH defensive line coach Dave Aranda said. “;He has a great reach, a good punch and very athletic. David is very aware of what he's going against.”;

Young has started the last 37 games for the Irish, anchoring a line in which 6-foot-4, 302-pound center Dan Wenger is considered the small one.

“;The Buffalo Bills I thought had the biggest line in the game,”; UH head coach Greg McMackin said, “;but I'm not so sure.”;

Veikune has been the most dynamic member of the Warrior defensive front with 16 tackles for loss and a team-high nine sacks.

“;You just have to use speed,”; Veikune said. “;They have great athletes, big boys ... and you have to use your technique.”; 

How they compare

Other key Statistics

HawaiiCategoryNotre Dame
6.2Rushing first downs/game7.0
10.6Passing first downs/game9.9
1.6First downs by penalty/game2.0
15-252Interceptions-return yards13-210
40.1Punting avg.39.2 
36%Third-down conversion rate35% 
46%Fourth-down conversion rate34%





Armando Allen, ND1305764.43
James Aldridge, ND903574.03
Daniel Libre, UH984314.46
Kealoha Pilares, UH542815.25



Jimmy Clausen, ND414246172,77120
Evan Sharpley, ND31060
Greg Alexander, UH20613141,63412 
Inoke Funaki, UH16895121,1196



Golden Tate, ND5290317.47
Armando Allen, ND482966.21
Mike Washington, UH5669312.45
Greg Salas, UH5075515.13



Kyle McCarthy, ND58451033.5/0
David Bruton, ND5736931.5/0
Maurice Crum, ND3132634.5/2
Brian Smith, ND3221534/2 
Solomon Elimimian, UH59531129.5/3
Adam Leonard, UH4338817.5/2
David Veikune, UH46257116/9
Jameel Dowling, UH4521662.5/1.5





X23Golden Tate5-11188So.
LT77Michael Turkovich6-6301Sr.
LG55Eric Olsen6-4303Jr.
C51Dan Wenger6-3287Jr.
RG59Chris Stewart6-5339Jr.
RT74Sam Young6-8310Jr.
TE9Kyle Rudolph6-6252Fr.
Z11David Grimes5-10175Sr.
QB7Jimmy Clausen6-3210So.
FB44Asaph Schwapp6-0261Sr.
HB5Armando Allen5-10190So.
DE94Justin Brown6-3261Sr.
NT95Ian Williams6-2300So.
DE96Pat Kuntz6-3283Sr.
SAM22Harrison Smith6-2206So.
MIKE58Brian Smith6-3233So.
JACK40Maurice Crum6-0235Sr.
WILL56Kerry Neal6-2245So.
LCB8Raeshon McNeil6-0187Jr.
FS27David Bruton6-2205Sr.
SS28Kyle McCarthy6-1200Sr.
RCB20Terrail Lambert5-11195Sr.
PK14Brandon Walker6-3188So.
KO39Ryan Burkhart5-11188Jr.
P43Eric Maust6-2177Jr.
H43Eric Maust6-2177Jr.
LS39Kevin Brooks6-2240Sr.
KR5Armando Allen5-10190So.

23Golden Tate5-11188So.
PR23Golden Tate5-11188So.


Sept. 6San Diego StateW, 21-13
Sept. 13MichiganW, 35-17
Sept. 20at Michigan StateL, 23-7 
Sept. 27PurdueW, 38-21 
Oct. 4StanfordW, 28-21
Oct. 11North Carolina StateL, 29-24
Oct. 25at WashingtonW, 33-7
Nov. 1PittsburghL, 36-33 4OT
Nov. 8at Boston CollegeL, 17-0
Nov. 15NavyW, 27-21
Nov. 22SyracuseL, 24-23
Nov. 29USCL, 38-3

Tomorrow Hawaii




Z89Malcolm Lane6-1180Jr.
H5Mike Washington5-9170Sr.
LT77Aaron Kia6-5290Jr.
LG62Keith AhSoon6-1315Sr.
C55John Estes6-2295Jr.
RG51Lafu Tuioti-Mariner6-0300Sr.
RT78Keoni Steinhoff6-3295Sr.
Y85Aaron Bain5-8190Sr.
X1Greg Salas6-2200So.
QB12Greg Alexander6-3230Jr.
RB48David Farmer6-2245Sr.
DE94David Veikune6-3265Sr.
DT93Keala Watson6-3320Sr.
DT99Josh Leonard6-3305Sr.
DE58John Fonoti6-2255Jr.
STUB44Adam Leonard6-0235Sr.
MLB17Solomon Elimimian6-0225Sr.
BUCK13Brashton Satele6-1255Jr.
CB3Jameel Dowling6-3200Sr.
FS2Ryan Mouton5-10175Sr.
SS35Keao Monteilh5-11200Sr.
CB23Calvin Roberts5-11175Sr.
K86Dan Kelly6-3225Sr.
P49Tim Grasso5-11210Sr.
KR89Malcolm Lane6-1180Jr.
PR85Aaron Bain5-8190Sr.
LS57Jake Ingram6-4235Sr.
H49Tim Grasso5-11210Sr.


Aug. 30at FloridaL, 56-10
Sept. 6Weber StateW, 36-17
Sept. 13at Oregon StateL, 45-7 
Sept. 27San Jose StateL, 20-17 
Oct. 4at Fresno StateW, 32-29 OT
Oct. 11Louisiana TechW, 24-14
Oct. 17at Boise StateL, 27-7
Oct. 25NevadaW, 38-31
Nov. 1at Utah StateL, 30-14
Nov. 8at New Mexico StateW, 42-30
Nov. 22IdahoW, 49-17
Nov. 29Washington StateW, 24-10
Dec. 6CincinnatiL, 29-24

Tomorrow Notre Dame