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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 18, 2006

Three-and-out, that's Brennan

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Fans of University of Hawai'i quarterback Colt Brennan are advised not to be late for tonight's game against San Jose State.

That's because Brennan, who has mastered the ukupau system of working until the job is done, does not need a lot of time to complete an assignment.

In 10 games this season, Brennan has played in the fourth quarter four times against Alabama, Boise State, Nevada and New Mexico State. In the NMSU game, Brennan completed a final-quarter drive that started in the third quarter. He did not play the rest of the game.

Brennan has taken 83 percent of the Warriors' snaps, an average of 52.5 offensive plays per game.

Most impressive is Brennan's production efficiency. Of the 98 drives in which Brennan was the quarterback, the Warriors scored 64 times (59 touchdowns, five field goals), a scoring efficiency of 65 percent.

During the current seven-game winning streak, with Brennan at quarterback, the Warriors have scored on 50 of 65 possessions (77 percent).

With Brennan in the game, the Warriors are scoring a field goal or touchdown every 8.2 plays for the season and every 7.1 plays in the past seven games.

Here's a look at tonight's game:

SAN JOSE STATE OFFENSE

WR3 James Jones 6-1 210 Sr.

LT76 Matt Cantu 6-3 290 Sr.

LG62 Marcel Burrough 6-6 322 Sr.

C68 Justin Paysinger 6-1 290 So.

RG61 Ryan Simone 6-3 306 Jr.

RT69 John Booker 6-4 315 Jr.

TE9 Jeff Clark 6-4 250 Jr.

QB17 Adam Tafralis 6-2 215 Jr.

WR81 John Broussard 6-1 165 Sr.

RB42 James T. Callier 6-0 222 Jr.

RB34 Yonus Davis 5-7 180 Jr.

Outlook: If all had gone according to the Spartans' blue print, Brennan would be the quarterback and Mike Cavanaugh would be coaching the offensive line. Brennan turned down the SJSU scholarship to walk on at UH, and Cavanaugh left UH to coach at Oregon State. But the Spartans fared well, anyway. Steve Morton, who had coached at USC and Washington, was brought in to coach the offensive line and serve as offensive coordinator. It was believed the Spartans would run the ball-control West Coast Offense. Co-coordinator Ken Margerum was raised in that system, and still has the original playbook from Bill Walsh, the inventor of the West Coast Offense. But Morton, deciding to fit an offense to match the personnel, settled on a power scheme.

The Spartans will try to overload a side, using a tight end or another sort of extra blocker, and feed Davis. Despite his size, Davis had two games when he had more than 22 carries and four when he exceeded 100 yards rushing, including 199 against Louisiana Tech and 184 against Stanford. "He doesn't need much space," UH defensive line coach Jeff Reinebold said. "He'll make you miss. He can turn a 5-yard gain into a 50-yard gain."

If defenses stack the strong side, Tafralis can fake the handoff and U-turn to the weak side. Tafralis has completed 68.5 percent of his passes, and his accuracy was 80 percent or better in three games. He has gone almost four games without an interception, a span of 71 passes.

SAN JOSE STATE DEFENSE

DE53 Jarron Gilbert 6-5 270 So.

DT96 Adonis Davis 6-2 290 Fr.

DT94 Kalvin Cressel 6-3 278 Fr.

DE93 Justin Cole 6-3 240 Fr.

LB46 Demetrius Jones 6-0 222 Jr.

LB35 Matt Castelo 5-10 215 Jr.

LB37 Damaja Jones 6-1 208 Sr.

CB25 Dwight Lowery 6-1 185 Jr.

S28 Rakine Toomes 6-0 190 Sr.

S8 Christopher Vedder 6-0 205 Sr.

CB29 Christopher Owens 5-9 161 So.

Outlook: SJSU head coach Dick Tomey found success with a double-eagle defense at UH and then the Desert Swarm scheme at Arizona. At SJSU, defensive coordinator Tom Williams uses some elements of the flex schemes as part of the 4-3 defense. "We adjusted the front and coverage to the guys who we have here at San Jose," Williams said. "We always say, 'It's the Jimmys and the Joes, not the Xs and the Os.' "

Castelo, who has family in Hawai'i, is undersized at 5-10. Using his lateral quickness (4.5 seconds over 40 yards), Castelo leads the Spartans with 120 tackles. "Football players come in all different sizes and packages," said Williams, whose first college coaching job was at UH in 1996. "You can't pigeon-hole a guy because maybe he's an inch shorter or a step slower than what conventional wisdom says he should be. We're looking for tough, hard-nosed football players."

Unheralded Vedder is the quarterback of the defense. Lowery has eight picks in eight games.

SAN JOSE STATE SPECIALISTS

PK10 Jared Strubeck 5-8 162 So.

LS40 Grant Izokovic 6-1 227 Jr.

H/P25 Waylon Prather 6-3 220 Jr.

KR81 John Broussard 6-1 165 Sr.

KR7 Jacob French 5-10 205 Jr.

PR25 Dwight Lowery 6-1 185 Jr.

Outlook: Prather leads the WAC in punting with a 43.3-yard average, which was boosted during a three-game stretch in which he averaged 49.4 yards on 13 punts against Nevada, Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State.

HAWAI'I OFFENSE

LWO84 Jason Rivers 6-2 192 Jr.

LSB7 Davone Bess 5-10 195 So.

LT70 Tala Esera 6-4 308 Sr.

LG65 Hercules Satele 6-2 288 Jr.

C64 Samson Satele 6-3 298 Sr.

RG55 John Estes 6-2 290 Fr.

RT72 Dane Uperesa 6-4 310 Sr.

RSB1 Ryan Grice-Mullins 5-10 179 So.

RSB82 Ross Dickerson 5-10 198 Sr.

RWO3 Ian Sample 5-10 196 Sr.

QB15 Colt Brennan 6-3 196 Jr.

RB4 Nate Ilaoa 5-9 245 Sr.

Outlook: Not only is Brennan the nation's most efficient passer, he also is the WAC's best running quarterback. Brennan leads all quarterbacks with 266 rushing yards, 34 more than Utah State's Riley Nelson. Brennan's elusiveness is evident in his ability to sidestep pass rushes. In 393 passing plays, Brennan has been sacked 13 times, or once every 30.23 times he sets up to throw. In comparison, Tafralis's sack/pass play ratio is 1 to 19.45. Boise State's Jared Zabransky, regarded as the league's best scrambling quarterback, has been sacked once every 17.08 pass attempts.

Ilaoa has recovered from a "tweaked" right ankle, and is expected to start. On shovel passes, Brennan and Ilaoa are 24 for 24, with Ilaoa's yards-after-catch average at 19.63 yards.

Brennan also has been effective on bubble screens, in which the receiver loops into the flat. Although that pass travels between 8 and 15 yards in the air, Bess said, "It's really tough to catch and it's really hard to throw." What makes it difficult is the receiver is going downhill, away from Brennan. Also, the receiver has his back or side to the defense. Instead of reading the defense or quarterback, Bess said, "the key is to follow the ball." If the pass is to the back shoulder, that means a defender is nearby. If the pass is ahead, there's room in front. "I have to trust Colt to make the right throw," Bess said. Brennan has a menu of about four options each pass play, giving him no more than a second to decide whether to throw the bubble screen. If he chooses to do so, he'll throw quickly to the receiver's back shoulder or lob it on lead passes. "We practice that play hundreds of times," said Brennan, who has been most successful when collaborating with Bess. "We know what what the other person is going to do." In Brennan's 22-game UH career, he has two incompletions on bubble screens; both were dropped.

HAWAI'I DEFENSE

LE98 Melila Purcell III 6-5 276 Sr.

NT67 Michael Lafaele 6-0 302 Jr.

RE91 Ikaika Alama-Francis 6-6 285 Sr.

LOLB8 Tyson Kafentzis 6-1 230 So.

LILB41 Solomon Elimimian 6-0 224 So.

RILB44 Adam Leonard 6-0 236 So.

ROLB26 Micah Lau 5-9 220 Jr.

LCB23 Gerard Lewis 5-9 168 Jr.

FS42 Leonard Peters 6-1 217 Sr.

SS31 Jake Patek 6-0 191 Jr.

RCB38 Myron Newberry 5-9 164 Jr.

Outlook: The defensive line will be reinforced with the return of Renolds Fruean (sprained right ankle), who can play nose tackle and both end positions.

It is hoped that Keala Watson, who has practiced this week, also will be available. Watson is recovering from a torn meniscus in his right knee.

For the first time this season, the Warriors will start the same lineup as the one they used the previous week. That's because Lewis and Newberry have brought some stability to the corner positions. Both are developing into aggressive man-to-man defenders.

Leonard is nearly fully recovered from a fracture in his left wrist. Even with the injury, he was leading the team in tackles (84) and solo stops (48). Now healthy, maybe he can turn pass breakups (he has a team-high seven) into interceptions.

HAWAI'I SPECIALISTS

PK86 Daniel Kelly 6-3 202 So.

LS57 Jake Ingram 6-4 268 So.

H11 Inoke Funaki 5-11 195 Fr.

P25 Kurt Milne 6-0 205 Sr.

KR82 Ross Dickerson 5-10 198 Sr.

KR89 Malcolm Lane 6-1 181 Fr.

PR38 Myron Newberry 5-9 164 Jr.

Outlook: After booting three consecutive kickoffs out of bounds last week, Kelly received a vote of confidence from coach June Jones. Until that inaccurate spell, 15 of Kelly's previous 33 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Jones said he expects Kelly to handle kickoffs and field-goal attempts. Freshman Briton Forester will continue to be used on extra-point kicks and, possibly, short field-goal attempts.

Timo Paepule is emerging as the Warriors' most valuable specialist. Paepule is a starter on five of the six special teams.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.