|Hawai'i vs. Idaho photo gallery|
|||Defense's big hits keep on coming|
|||It was as if Grice-Mullins was never away|
|||Dickerson's TD run sets tone|
By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stephen Tsai
The University of Hawai'i football team's night to remember was Idaho's nightmare to forget.
The Warriors, who took control from the coin toss, scored on the opening kickoff return and never looked back in a 68-10 rout before a homecoming crowd of 29,364 at Aloha Stadium.
Colt Brennan threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns. It was his third consecutive five-touchdown game, and fifth in the last six weeks.
The Warriors won their fifth in a row to seize sole possession of second place in the Western Athletic Conference. They are 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the WAC.
The Warriors are promised a berth in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl if they finish with a winning regular season. They can meet that goal with a victory in Saturday's road game against Utah State.
"We're a pretty good football team right now," UH coach June Jones said.
Brennan said: "We're finally coming around that hump. We started the second half of our season (last night). We've seen so many teams have good first halves, and then go in the tank. For us to come out and win the way we did, against a pretty good Idaho team, that was great."
The Warriors won the coin toss and, as always, chose to receive. In reviewing videotapes, the Warriors noticed that the Vandals try to overplay their kick coverage.
In the huddle before the kickoff, the UH coaches called for "left return."
"We knew that 'left return' was going to break," said Timo Paepule, who plays "center" on the front line of the UH kick return. "They loaded the other side. I was smiling, a big smile. I turned around and looked at Ross (Dickerson), and I thought, 'This is going to the house.' "
Dickerson, who was aligned on the right, fielded the kickoff on the goal line. Malcolm Lane, the other kick returner, then joined David Veikune, Amani Purcell and Bully Fergerstrom to form the initial four-man wedge.
"Everybody did their job, and Ross made it happen," Lane said.
Dickerson emerged from the wedge, and sprinted along the left sideline to complete the 100-yard touchdown play.
"It was wide open," Dickerson said. "Everybody did their job. It just popped wide open. I was running and my guys were knocking people down, keeping guys away from me. It came out to be six. It was a total team effort."
On the UH sideline, free safety Leonard Peters recalled: "Everybody was pumped and jacked up. We always talk about getting momentum. We got it on the first play. Ross led the way."
Dickerson also showed his leadership before the game. Dickerson started the first three games at right wideout, but moved to right slotback as an injury replacement for Ryan Grice-Mullins. With Grice-Mullins prepared to return last night, Jones decided to rotate Grice-Mullins and Dickerson. But Jones had difficulty coming up with an order.
Grice-Mullins wanted Dickerson to start, but Dickerson refused, and ordered Grice-Mullins to open at right slotback.
"I wanted him to go in there, but he kept insisting and insisting," Grice-Mullins said. "I had no choice. He took the leadership role and made me go in."
Brennan said: "Ross gave up his starting position to let Ryan play. I'm a big karma guy. I believe what goes around comes around. I think when Ross did that, he set the tone for us. He showed we're a team. He made a personal sacrifice to help us reach our team goals. That means a lot."
After that, the Warriors could not be stopped.
They scored touchdowns on their first six possessions.
Brennan was 31 of 38, extending his streak of passes without an interception to 168.
He also was able to solve the riddle of the Vandals' multiple-blitz schemes.
In the first quarter, the Vandals alternated blitzing a cornerback or linebacker. On one play, linebacker Josh Bousman raced toward Brennan on a delayed blitz. Just before absorbing the hit, Brennan lofted a pass to Jason Rivers, who was running a slant pattern, for a touchdown and a 14-0 UH lead.
"When you blitz, you leave your coverage at a disadvantage," Brennan said. "Right now, our offense has a good understanding. We know what we need to do and where we need to be. Sometimes I know where the receiver is supposed to be even before he gets there. That's what happens when you practice the same plays over and over. You get that feel. If they're going to blitz like that, we should have an answer. Today we had the answers."
The Warriors appeared to be a step ahead. Davone Bess' 2-yard scoring catch was set up when Grice-Mullins went into motion, drawing away a defender.
Later, Nate Ilaoa appeared to have scored on a 10-yard run around the left side. But the replay official nullified the touchdown, saying Ilaoa's knee touched the ground at the 1.
"I was thinking, 'Dang replays,'" Ilaoa said, smiling. "But I was happy to get a second chance."
He scored easily on the next play.
"Our defense had no answers," Idaho linebacker David Vorbona said. "It was one of those nights you want to forget. They could do whatever they wanted to us. We couldn't wrap up. We couldn't make tackles. I think they converted every third down on us. When that happens, you're not going to be successful. It just wasn't our night."
Idaho's offense did not have it any easier.
After falling behind 14-0 and then 21-7, the Vandals scrapped their power running game and opted to pass frequently. Thing is, UH defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville said, "I think they decided they would throw every down before the game started."
Instead of using the jumbo package featuring five defensive linemen, the Warriors went nearly the entire game with their basic 3-4 scheme, with the secondary mixing zones and man coverages on Idaho's four receivers.
"We didn't even look for the run," Glanville said. "If they ran, they ran."
The Warriors, encouraged by their student sections — more than 1,000 pairs of ThunderStix-like noisemakers were circulated — made a six-play stand in the second quarter that resulted only in an Idaho field goal.
Later, on fourth-and-10 in the third quarter, quarterback Steve Wichman tried to sprint for a first down. UH strong safety Jake Patek raced over and floored Wichman short of the first-down marker.
Wichman did not return. It was the sixth time this season UH has forced a quarterback from the game.
"Something clicks when you see a quarterback scrambling," Patek said. "You think, 'It's a quarterback, I've got to hit him as hard as I can.' ... I saw a receiver. I don't know if he was trying to block me. The quarterback tried to make a move outside the receiver. Once he made the move, I knew I had to come out and put the shoulder to him.
"Coach Glanville is always telling us 'big bag, big bag' (hit a player hard). I wonder if Glanville was pleased?"
Glanville said: "I have to go check it on film. Live, it looked pretty good. All of our players looked pretty good."
Reach Stephen Tsai at email@example.com.