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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Warriors, Cougars lie low before tonight's kickoff

An early victory over Cougars could go long way
UH vs. BYU: How they match up

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

PROVO, Utah — What was supposed to have been a brief walk-through turned into a spirited 90-minute practice and then into pep rally as the University of Hawai'i football team declared itself ready for today's nationally televised game against host Brigham Young.

Before two National Football League scouts and defensive back Hyrum Peters' closest friends and relatives — his parents live 50 minutes away in Salt Lake City — the Warriors completed their final dress rehearsal at Mountain View High's grass practice field.

Although the season is two weeks old and the teams are nonconference opponents, both sides have put extra care into preparing for this game. BYU coach Gary Crowton admittedly changed his schemes on special teams and defense as a direct result of last season's 72-45 loss to UH at Aloha Stadium. Crowton banned media from the Cougars' practices this week.

In turn, UH coach June Jones denied public access to the Warriors' two practices in Utah. Two UH associates chased away about a dozen uninvited spectators, including a woman with a television camera claiming to work for the BYU athletic department.

When asked about the game's importance, Jones said, "It's BYU. It's the only natural rivalry, I think, this school has ever had. It's a school pride deal, and it will be one forever."

Jones played for UH for two years, then returned for one season, in 1984, as an assistant coach. Still, when he was hired as head coach in December 1998, the passions of the rivalry were quickly renewed. "Very much so," he said.

UH quarterback Tim Chang said the series between the teams "is a great rivalry. There's a lot of history between the two teams, a lot of exciting games have been played. Growing up in Hawai'i, I used to watch those games. The fans enjoy the rivalry and we enjoy it. It can't get any better."

Middle linebacker Chris Brown, a fifth-year senior from Damien Memorial High, said the rivalry "has always been part of my life. All of my life, all I've heard about was BYU and UH. To play in a game against BYU, for me, is huge."

Brown said the only thing better than beating BYU is if "Damien beat St. Louis."

Crowton has instructed his players not to discuss last year's game and to dismiss any talk of revenge. But BYU tight end Spencer Nead said the way the Warriors excessively celebrated last year "bugs me," particularly when slotback Craig Stutzmann punted a ball into the stands after scoring a touchdown.

During Wednesday's news conference, Crowton would only concede, "Believe me, we'll be highly motivated. ... The way to win is to be poised and under control."

The teams are not at full strength. BYU will be without its best blocker (Ben Archibald) and defensive back (Jernaro Gilford). UH lost its top interior defensive lineman (Lui Fuga), and Chang's broken right pinkie on his throwing hand has not healed. Chang, who cannot take short snaps because of the injury, will be replaced by Jason Whieldon in short-yardage situations.

Still, Jones said, "I know we'll play hard. Whether we win or not, we'll know after the game. We've worked hard and we'll play hard until the last second."