The tough lesson Coach Mac gave Graunke

Bobby Curran
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Friday - September 12, 2008
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The first fall weekend of football is complete and already we’ve seen the agony and the ecstasy, surprises, controversy and drama galore.

Close to home, the UH edition of the Prodigal Son took center stage with quarterback Tyler Graunke returning from suspension to start the second half against Weber State and spark the Warriors to a comeback win.

Three weeks ago, it wasn’t clear that Graunke would even play football at UH this year. The coaching staff was making plans to move on without him after Graunke had been unable to right his academic ship.

“To his credit, he got that done,” says UH head coach Greg McMackin.“He did it without any help from us.”

McMackin made it clear to Graunke that his concerns were for Tyler the person more than the football player.

“It was important for Tyler to learn that there’s a right way to do things in your life,“says McMackin.

Graunke energized his team, marching the Warriors up and down the field, throwing three TD passes while completing 13-20 for 218 yards. And he showed a presence that had been missing from the offense, and seemed to have a salutary effect on the Hawaii defense as well. But Graunke seemed to understand that the game may not have been the most important thing.

“Coach taught me a life lesson, not a football lesson,“said Graunke after the game. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I’ve learned a lot during this time, and I love being out here with these guys.”

Graunke has been named the starter for this Saturday’s game against Oregon State. The Beavers are opening at home following two tough road losses against Stanford and Penn State, and will look to vent their frustration against the Warriors.

But with Graunke’s second-half performance last week, you’ve got to give Hawaii a real chance in Corvallis.

* This year’s Cinderella appears to be East Carolina, which knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia back to back to rise to No. 13 in the polls. Can the Pirates dream about a national championship game if they run the table? No, because they’ll get killed on strength of schedule once they start league play in Conference USA. Right now they look like the real deal.

* Fallout from the end of the BYU-Washington game continues everywhere college football is discussed. After his second TD, Husky QB Jake Locker tossed the ball over his shoulder before jumping into the arms of a team-mate, causing a 15-yard celebration penalty forcing UW into a 35-yard extra point. The kick was blocked, and the Huskies lost by one.

The rule states that throwing the ball in the air is a violation. The call was within the letter of the rule, but the rule is flawed. There was no element of taunting or self-aggrandizement, just an honest display of emotion by an excited player. That should not be against the rules.

* Injuries were a huge story in the NFL. New England QB Tom Brady was hit low and suffered a knee injury that knocks him out for the season. The Pats will go with fourth-year backup Matt Cassell. He’s accustomed to the backup role - at USC he sat behind Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.

Also, former Warrior Vince Manuwai is out for the season after hurting his knee in Jacksonville’s opener. Kansas City QB Brady Croyle is out with a separated shoulder, and Seahawk WR Nate Burleson is lost for the year with a knee injury. In the opening week, both Dallas and Pittsburgh served notice that they are ready to return to their former glory.

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