Long, Hard Road For UH Warriors

Bobby Curran
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Friday - September 09, 2009
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The University of Hawaii football team embarks on a 10-day road trip this week, with stops in Seattle to play Washington State and then a week in Sin City to take on UNLV.

Obviously the coaches try very hard to lessen the distraction level of Las Vegas by keeping players busy with study halls, film sessions, team meetings and practices. No matter how you cut it, that’s a long time to be away from your own bed and school routine.

The upside is that it has the bonding value of an extended fall camp. These games will be important to the Warriors as they try to accomplish one of their goals, which is getting bowl eligible.

And when Hawaii returns home they’ll have a bye, and then head out again to Ruston to open conference play against Louisiana Tech.

They won’t play at Aloha Stadium again until Oct. 10 when they host Fresno State. That will be 36 days between home games, the second-longest stretch in the country this year.

three star

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. In a conversation on the radio one morning, I mentioned that former Warrior Jason Elam was a phenomenally accurate kicker. Most of the time, even when he was at UH, he is right down the middle. I had made a comparison with Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding. Shortly afterwards, a caller pointed out that Kaeding’s career percentage was 86 percent to Elam’s 81 percent. Now, Kaeding has only played for five years, and Elam has 16 years of service. And Elam has been money on pressure kicks throughout his career while Kaeding has missed a few at critical times. But I still found the numbers surprising.

And then it hit me.

Kaeding kicks in the best weather of any outdoor stadium in the league; Elam, for 15 years, in one of the worst. Denver, once you get to October, November and December, is brutal. It is no coincidence that after Elam moved to Atlanta and the Dome last year he posted a career best 93.5 percent. There’s a reason that the Colts jettisoned Mike Vanderjact and acquired Adam Vinatieri, despite Vinatieri’s lower percentage. Vinatieri had kicked in frigid, windy New England and made his pressure kicks. They figured he’d be way better inside. It’s quite unfair to compare, say, Chicago’s Robbie Gould, who kicks in nightmarish conditions, with Detroit’s Jason Hansen, who labors in 72 degrees with absolutely no wind.

But the move to Atlanta is probably a good thing for Elam’s Hall of Fame chances, as he should be able to put up his best numbers in the winter of his career.

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