Road Warriors they're not
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Birds are singing, people are smiling and, once more, everything is right in the world of University of Hawai'i football.
"I have friends again," UH quarterback Tim Chang said.
After a dark-and-stormy reception from critics following a one-sided loss at Boise State Oct. 5, the Warriors found sunshine in a 59-34 victory over Nevada last week. The renewed aloha the Warriors are receiving could be traced to their play at Aloha Stadium, where they are unbeaten in three games this season. They are 1-2 on the road.
"I don't know about the rest of the team, but I feel more comfortable at home," said Chang, whose playing experience at Aloha Stadium dates to his sophomore year at St. Louis School. "I know every curvature of the stadium, and I'm familiar with the background."
In preparation for last week's game, Nevada studied videotapes of last season's meeting between the teams, in Reno, Nev. That study guide proved to be useless, as Wolf Pack quarterback Zack Threadgill soon learned there is little resemblance between the Road Warriors and the Aloha Warriors.
"They're a different team at home," Threadgill said after the game.
The Warriors average 54 points at home, 31.3 on the road. They have rolled up an average of 579.7 yards in total offense at home, 421 on the road. Although they yield more yards on the road an average of 353.3 to 394 they relinquish six fewer points per home game (26.7 to 33).
Conspiracy theorists offer these explanations:
The schedule is different on the road.
In the week leading to a home game, the Warriors have light conditioning drills on Monday, a one-hour practice on Tuesday, two-hour practices on Wednesday and Thursday and a short practice on Friday. Because of the travel time for road games, the Warriors move up the schedule by a day, eliminating Monday's conditioning drills.
Because the stadiums for the first three road games were booked, the Warriors were forced to practice at nearby high schools. The Warriors did not step onto Boise State's blue-colored artificial turf until pre-game warmups.
For next week's game at Fresno State, the Warriors will not even practice in the same city of where the game will be played. The Warriors will arrive in Ontario, Calif., by charter flight on Thursday morning, practice there and then fly to Fresno that afternoon. There will be no other practices before the game the following night.
The playing surface is different on the road.
Sure, the Warriors practice all week on their grass practice field. But the blades are cut short, as opposed to the suspiciously long grass at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the game against Brigham Young. The long grass, the Warriors complained, slowed their speedy receivers. It didn't help that a rainstorm forced the pass-happy Warriors to resort to more running plays.
The fields at Boise State and Texas-El Paso are made of AstroPlay, an artificial surface that is cushioned by a base made of crushed rubber sneakers. Even though AstroPlay is an artificial surface, the Warriors have to wear grass-purpose cleats, as opposed to the sneakers they can wear on Aloha Stadium's hard artificial turf.
The road teams are better.
Of UH's three home opponents so far, only Eastern Illinois has a winning record, and the Panthers compete in Division I-AA. Tomorrow's opponent, Tulsa, is 0-6 and, with 16 consecutive losses, owns the longest current losing streak in Division I-A.
At the time BYU played UH, the Cougars were a national power. Boise State is favored to win the Western Athletic Conference.