Warriors: Pleasant Surprise So Far
Wednesday - September 30, 2009
Approximately a quarter of the way through the 2009 University of Hawaii football season, I have to tell you, I’m pleasantly surprised.
The Warriors are 2-1, which is where I thought we would be, but we’re much better at this point than I thought we would be - and definitely improved over last year.
This week’s Wednesday game at Louisiana Tech - you can watch it on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. - is pivotal if the Warriors are going to make a legitimate run at a WAC title. LaTech has a deceiving 1-2 record, with their losses coming against Auburn and Navy. And at the beginning of the year, most pundits picked a road loss here for the Warriors - myself included.
But that was before we all saw the improvements.
First, with the exception of a rusty first half in the home opener against Central Arkansas, and a few missed opportunities in road games against Washington State and UNLV, the offense is much better.
In fact, the first 20 minutes against Washington State were stunningly good. I’d put that offensive scoring effort - with Nick Rolovich taking over the play-calling duties from Ron Lee - up against anything from the June Jones era.
Currently, UH is ranked third nationally in passing yards per game and eighth nationally in total yards per game. Quarterback Greg Alexander is ranked second in the nation in passing, and receivers Greg Salas and Rodney Bradley are ranked first and fifth in the nation. All of this has helped the Warriors average 32 points a game.
Compared to last year’s quarterback merry-go-round, conservative play-calling and overall uncertainty, this is very good news for fans!
Why is it happening, you ask? There are a few factors. One is maturity of the coaching staff. A year ago, despite their years spent in coaching, most of the coaches were in their first year in the position they had been elevated to. Anybody who has ever received a promotion knows that there’s a learning curve that goes on in your first few months on the job. The Hawaii coaching staff experienced that last year.
New coaching hires for the offensive line and special teams during the off-season also improved productivity in these important areas. The health and stability of the O line is key to continued success, and you can already see the improvements from game to game. Special teams, with kicker Scott Enos doing a solid job, have also been a source of pride. Additionally, the team has cut down on penalties considerably.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Warriors have done a very creditable job despite early season injuries. The return of a Blaze Soares at linebacker has been a tremendous morale-booster. The former Castle High star leads the team in tackles, and if he can stay healthy - cross your fingers! - he’s sure to make a huge impact as the season moves along.
See you at the games - the next home game is against Fresno State on Oct. 10 - it’s a “green out.”
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