Just Another Game (Yeah, Right!)

Coach June Jones and his UH Warriors say their Sugar Bowl matchup with Georgia is just another game. Though wide receiver Jason Rivers

Steve Murray
Wednesday - December 26, 2007
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
E-mail this story | Print this page | Archive | RSS | Del.icio.us
Coach June Jones has his Warriors pointed toward a perfect season
Coach June Jones has his Warriors pointed toward a perfect season

Though wide receiver Jason Rivers - and seemingly everyone else associated with the team - says the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl against No. 5 Georgia (6-2, 10-2) is no different than any other game the team has played this season, there is an entire state that would beg to differ.

The team’s undefeated romp through the regular season has replaced potholes, excise taxes, vacation rentals and the Superferry as the most-talked-about topic in bars and board-rooms.

And don’t even broach the subject about the lack of available tickets to the big game unless you’re prepared to suffer a Pandora’s Box of anger, hostility and confusion. The “just another game” party line among the players and coaches is a necessary ingredient in the preparation, but to fans it’s akin to calling Duke Kahanamoku just another surfer.

Standing in the way of the perfect ending to the perfect season is one of the hottest teams in the country. A team that could, in fact, make a strong argument that they are playing in the wrong New Orleans bowl game - the BCS championship game happens six days later. The Bulldogs, who finished their season with six straight wins, including victories over No. 11 Florida, No. 18 Auburn and No. 23 Kentucky, were passed over by Ohio State for a shot at the national title.

Georgia is led by freshman running back Knowshon Moreno, who ran for 1,273 yards while racking up 227 receiving yards. If this isn’t enough of a concern, senior back Thomas Brown chipped in 706 yards in an injury-filled season that included 136 yards in only 17 carries against Georgia Tech.

While the running game gets most of the publicity, Georgia is anything but a one dimensional squad - the Bulldogs have gained more yards in the air than on the ground, even with starting quarterback Matthew Stafford completing only 55 percent of his passes.

The proof is in the trophy
The proof is in the trophy

Then there is the defense that held Kentucky and Tennessee to 13 and 14 points respectively, and which UH head coach June Jones says is loaded with NFL talent.

“There is not one guy (on the D side of the ball) who won’t play in the National Football League,” says Jones. “All of them will get the chance to play at the next level. I don’t know how many seniors they have this year, but whatever that number is, that’s how many will go this year.”

Colt Brennan and Hawaii’s four-headed receiving threat are, of course, foremost on everyone’s mind, but the difference between victory and defeat will most likely be determined by the effort of men who spend most of their athletic career devoid of recognition.

“Our two most important guys in our defense, and we couldn’t even run our defense without them, are our defensive tackles,” says defensive coordinator Greg McMackin of the men who make up the Warriors’ 10-man line rotation. “They are the big 300-pound guys that have to gain the point. They are who we built around. They have to control their portion of the field, and then we play around them. They are our starting point.”

Such pressure and expectation is perfectly fine with the guys in the trenches, who see their next assignment as just another journey on the road to respectability.

“For us it’s nothing different. It’s what we’ve done all season,” says defensive tackle Keala Watson. “The whole season prepared us for this moment ... Everybody’s doubting us, saying that we’re not really a top-caliber team, but the more we play better teams, the more chances we get to prove to people we are a top-caliber team.”

Offensively for the Warriors it comes down to giving Brennan time to throw and the running backs - who could find themselves in a starring role should Georgia chose to flood the secondary with defenders - holes to run through. As the head coach said, it’s not going to be an easy task.

“That’s a big challenge and I love challenges,” says offensive tackle Keith Ah-Soon. “I’m just ready for the challenge of all those 6-foot-6 guys, all those 4.4 flat guys coming off the edge. That’s a nice challenge for me, and I love going up against guys like that because they are tailor-made for us. That’s why football is fun.”

Everything seems obvious with the benefit of hindsight. A talented and experienced roster, a dedicated coaching staff and a schedule ranked among the nation’s worst sure made 12-0 a definite possibility among the


Page 1 of 2 pages for this story  1 2 >

E-mail this story | Print this page | Comments (0) | Archive | RSS

Most Recent Comment(s):

Posting a comment on MidWeek.com requires a free registration.



Auto Login

Forgot Password

Sign Up for MidWeek newsletter Times Supermarket



Hawaii Luxury

Tiare Asia and Alex Bing
were spotted at the Sugar Ray's Bar Lounge