QB Funaki earns a start

Bobby Curran
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Friday - September 05, 2008
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The result of Hawaii’s opener against Florida was not unexpected, but disappointing nonetheless. The truth is, Hawaii was more than adequate on defense,about adequate on special teams (less two breakdowns in the punting game), but woefully short on offense.And the main problem on offense was at quarterback. Average play by Hawaii’s signal caller would have meant a ball game rather than a blowout.

Granted, taking your first snaps at the Division IA level at the Swamp is not the recipe for a successful start to a career. Neither Greg Alexander nor Brent Rausch was able to sustain drives. And they both, at times, appeared nonplussed by the speed and number of blue jerseys coming their way. But they’ll improve with game familiarity, and they won’t see another defense in that class.

The fourth quarter performance delivered by Inoke Funaki was brilliant by contrast. He was composed under pressure, threw well on the run and put the ball on the money. In short, he made plays. He both understood what he had to do and had the moxie to execute.

For his effort, he has been named the starter for Saturday’s game against Weber State. The Wildcats won their opener against Montana-Western by a score of 62-6. They’ll be confident and tough, mirroring the personality of their head coach, Ron McBride.

Hawaii will not have to be extraordinary to win this game, but neither will they survive giving up six turnovers and a punt return for a touchdown. They will need to be aggressive and responsible on defense, and when they have the football, they need to hold on to it and make some plays.

Coaches say that you improve the most between your first and second games; I believe this will be a pretty darn good football team in time.And for Inoke Funaki and his offensive teammates, the time is now. * One of my oldest friends came up from Fort Lauderdale to work as our game spotter in Florida.We got up early on game day and went for a long walk.Walking by a marsh on the way back to the hotel in the dark at 5:30 a.m.,we heard a splash. The walk turned into a sprint PDQ. I didn’t want to become this month’s cautionary gator tale. * Elsewhere in the WAC,Louisiana Tech served notice with a home victory over Southeastern Conference member Mississippi State. Fresno dominated Rutgers on the road. Boise State used freshman Kellen Moore in a big win over Idaho State. Nevada overmatched Grambling State behind a strong performance by QB Colin Kaepernick. San Jose State had to come from behind to turn back upset-minded UC-Davis. No question the conference will be tougher this go ‘round.

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