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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 3, 2005

Warriors will battle to the end

 •  Former Saber star commits to Hawai'i

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

San Diego State quarterback Kevin O'Connell has completed 61 percent of his passes this season.

DENIS POROY | Associated Press

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With first-year starters at the six ball-handling positions on offense and a new 3-4 defensive alignment, the University of Hawai'i football team has endured growing pains during this 4-7 season.

The face of the Warriors' perseverance is quarterback Colt Brennan, a third-year sophomore who transferred from Saddleback Community College in June. Brennan has not missed a game despite suffering separations to the acromioclavicular (AC) joint in both shoulders, sprains to both thumbs and a back injury. Although the injured AC joints do not impact the accuracy of his passes, he suffered from stinging pain when he was struck on the shoulder.

"You just have to fight through it," Brennan said.

More than anything, that has been the Warriors' philosophy this season. Entering tonight's season finale against San Diego State, Brennan remains hopeful for the Warriors' future.

"It's always what you make it," Brennan said. "People can sit here and be very excited about what's to come. But unless we really work and go get it, it's nothing. It's just potential. We have to work hard in the offseason. With the talent we have and the opportunity we have, we've got a chance to do something good. There's no reason we can't work at it and get there."

Here's a look at tonight's game:

SAN DIEGO STATE OFFENSE

SE19 Jeff Webb 6-2 205 Sr.

FL1 Chazeray Schilens 6-4 205 So.

LT78 Chris Pino 6-5 315 Sr.

LG63 Taylor Schmidt 6-4 315 Sr.

C72 Jasper Harvey 6-3 300 Sr.

RG62 Brandyn Dombrowski 6-5 325 So.

RT76 Will Robinson 6-6 270 So.

TE87 Eric Miclot 6-5 235 So.

SB80 Robert Ortiz 6-1 195 Sr.

QB7 Kevin O'Connell 6-6 220 So.

RB22 Lynell Hamilton 6-1 220 So.

Outlook: The chill in the usually stifling UH meeting room came from watching the videotape of the Aztecs' opening drive against Ohio State. "On the first play of the game, they cracked an 80-yard touchdown," UH defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said of the scoring pass from O'Connell to slotback Brett Swain. "That ain't bad. If Ohio State can't run with 'em, very few people can."

The Aztecs align in formations with four wideouts, three wideouts, and two wideouts with two tight ends. Sometimes they will run the option; often their receivers will run drag routes. They also can attack vertically, completing 16 passes spanning at least 25 yards. The Aztecs have scored on 88.9 percent (32 of 36) of their red-zone possessions (between an opponent's 20 and goal line).

The key is O'Connell, who aligns in the shotgun about 75 percent of the time. O'Connell, who has completed 61 percent of his passes, is effective on scrambles and play-action plays. "He's 6-6, 220, and runs and darts and cuts like he's 5-6," Glanville said. "He's an unbelievable athlete. You wonder if he plays forward on the basketball team. He looks like our defensive end, but a lot of people couldn't tag him in a phone booth. You can't put your hands on him. That's how quick he is."

SAN DIEGO STATE DEFENSE

DE97 Kurt Kahul 6-1 350 Sr.

DT94 Nick Osborn 6-4 255 So.

NT99 Jonathan Bailes 6-1 297 Jr.

DE93 Antwan Applewhite 6-3 235 So.

SLB51 Joe Martin 6-1 225 Jr.

MLB33 Freddy Keiaho 6-0 230 Sr.

WLB46 Russell Allen 6-3 225 Fr.

CB3 Donny Baker 5-9 165 Jr.

FS21 Marcus Demps 6-1 200 Sr.

SS31 Reggie Grigsby 5-11 205 Jr.

CB9 Terrell Maze 5-11 170 Jr.

Outlook: Like most of UH's opponents, the Aztecs will use deep-zone coverages to protect against long passes and attack out of different defensive fronts. They have defensive formations involving four, three and, even, two defensive linemen. They will blitz between 15 and 20 times a game.

Keiaho, who joined San Diego State as a running back, has excelled as an open-field tackler since moving to the "Dark Side," the nickname for the defense. He has 60 solo tackles; 99 in all.

SAN DIEGO STATE SPECIALISTS

PK14 Garrett Palmer 6-2 180 So.

P17 Michael Hughes 5-10 185 So.

LS52 Tyler Schmitt 6-2 220 So.

KR/PR20 Michael Franklin 5-7 180 Sr.

KR/PR85 Justin Amaral 5-11 190 Jr.

Outlook: The Aztecs will try to control field position by sending up to eight players to block punts.

In turn, Hughes is eighth nationally in punting with an average of 44.8 yards.

HAWAI'I OFFENSE

LWR88 Chad Mock 6-0 178 Jr.

LSB7 Davone Bess 5-9 1/2 187 Fr.

LT70 Tala Esera 6-4 295 Jr.

LG64 Samson Satele 6-2 303 Jr.

C59 Derek Fa'avi 6-1 273 Sr.

RG66 Brandon Eaton 6-2 295 Sr.

RT72 Dane Uperesa 6-5 315 Jr.

RSB1 Ryan Grice-Mullen 5-10 174 Fr.

RWR82 Ross Dickerson 5-10 185 Jr.

QB15 Colt Brennan 6-2 190 So.

RB4 Nate Ilaoa 5-9 229 Sr.

Outlook: Teammates have been lobbying for Ilaoa to receive more ball-handling opportunities. In last week's game against nationally ranked Wisconsin, Ilaoa had 11 touches seven rushes for 68 yards and two catches for 23 yards but none in the final 27 minutes, 22 seconds. Ilaoa broke or eluded 20 would-be Wisconsin tackles, an average of 2.2 per play, for an additional 73 yards. He has escaped 31 would-be tackles in the past two games.

UH coach June Jones said 6-foot, 351-pound Reagan Mauia, a converted nose tackle, will be used as a running back in short-yardage situations. Jones said Mauia is "actually bigger and more powerful" than West Keli'ikipi, last year's power back. Asked if Mauia has the speed to play running back, Jones said: "Right now, he doesn't but he will. We want to see him down to 265, 270 next year."

Jones said Jordan Slye, who rotated at left wideout, will not play because of a sore knee.

HAWAI'I DEFENSE

LE98 Melila Purcell III 6-5 260 Sr.

NT67 Michael Lafaele 6-1 310 So.

RE91 Ikaika Alama-Francis 6-6 250 Jr.

SOLB45 Tanuvasa Moe 6-0 220 Sr.

SILB41 Solomon Elimimian 6-0 225 Fr.

WILB43 Brad Kalilimoku 5-11 204 So.

LCB24 Kenny Patton 6-0 184 Jr.

SS15 Lono Manners 5-10 199 Sr.

FS22 Lamar Broadway 6-0 186 Sr.

RCB9 Ryan Keomaka 5-10 157 So.

Outlook: Glanville has used a different defensive scheme every week, sometimes making changes during the game. Against Wisconsin's running attack last week, Glanville transformed the usual 3-4 alignment into a 6-2. Keomaka, who will start in place of ailing Keao Monteilh (strained right rotator cuff), said the defense is nicknamed, "Hit 'em." Glanville said: "It should be called: 'Hit 'em harder.'" The Warriors have not lived up to the billing, particularly for the number of blitz calls. The Warriors miss at least three sacks per game; last week, they did not have any sacks. Glanville has implored his cornerbacks to play more aggressively in breaking up passes or seeking interceptions.

HAWAI'I SPECIALISTS

PK99 Daniel Kelly 6-3 199 Fr.

P25 Kurt Milne 5-11 208 Jr.

KR/PR27 Andre Taylor 5-11 171 Jr.

KR/PR34 A.J. Martinez 6-0 180 So.

Outlook: To defend against the Aztecs' spray kickoffs, the Warriors might use both Taylor and Martinez as deep returners. The Warriors usually use one kick returner. The strategy would mean replacing one of the two 300-pound blockers aligned at the 15. "None of it is worth a damn, if we don't field the ball cleanly," said Jeff Reinebold, who helps coach the kick-return team. UH also will not tolerate penalties. The Warriors committed penalties on three of the four kickoffs they returned last week.

Kelly spent extra time working on his kickoffs this week. Against Wisconsin, he shanked a pooch kick; it traveled 15 yards. Kelly, who has complained of leg fatigue, said he will try to improve his conditioning during the offseason. "I have to work on the stamina and make sure I can last an entire season kicking 'em deep and high," Kelly said.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.