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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 23, 2008

Alexander sitting pretty with Colt's tradition

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

It was a snapshot moment, a throwback instant, in which University of Hawai'i quarterback Greg Alexander briefly reminded you of Colt Brennan.

The 82-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Lane in the first quarter that gave the Warriors a lead over Idaho they never lost on the way to a 49-17 blowout?

Well, yes, that play, too.

But we're talking about Alexander, helmet off, smile wide, relaxing on the sidelines with all of 11 minutes, 25 seconds left in a game that had been turned over to his backup, Brent Rausch, for completion.

Finally, here was a game the Warriors had well in hand, drama long since removed, and it was their starting quarterback who helped place it there.

"It is a lot more fun being on the sidelines in the fourth quarter than in the first one, I'll tell you that," Alexander quipped.

Yes, the one-liners, not to mention yards, big plays and confidence in running the offense, are all coming easier for Alexander these days. Coming in bunches, too.

Last night, the memories of his first wide-eyed, painful start in the season opener at Florida seeming a lot further away than Aug. 30.

To be sure, the Vandals (2-10) are nothing to write home about. Even if you live in the football-depressed Northwest. But, for the second consecutive week, Alexander has shown a rapidly accumulating grasp of the Warriors' offense and ability to pull the trigger on big plays. And, that is notable.

The 264-yard, 12-of-24, three-touchdown performance against Idaho reaffirming the breakout game at New Mexico State was no fluke. With each outing, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder brings a stronger touch to an offense that is looking more and more like what we remember from years past.

In the process, it not only helped moved UH above .500 for the first time this season at 6-5 (5-3 conference) with a shot at second place in the Western Athletic Conference, but edged the Warriors to one game from bowl eligibility and a place in the Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. That could and should come Saturday against Washington State in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Yet for the growing bundle of yards and touchdowns, there is another number that underlines Alexander's mounting comfort and advancing acumen as the Warriors' triggerman. It is the 116 consecutive pass attempts without an interception. After throwing two in a touchdown-less start at Florida, he's authored eight touchdowns and been without an interception.

"That," said head coach Greg McMackin, "is what we were hoping to see from him and it comes with game (repetitions)."

"At first (in the Florida game) you think you know what you're doing, but you really don't," Alexander said. "It takes time."

Alexander had plenty of it, sitting for five consecutive games until drawing mop-up duty in a 27-7 loss at Boise State. "I learned a lot in that time," Alexander said. "Watching Inoke (Funaki) and Tyler (Graunke), you pick up things. It is like my redshirt year in junior college. I tell people that was where I progressed the most in JC."

But it wasn't only the plays against downtrodden Idaho that give testimony to Alexander's emergence, his teammates will tell you. "You see it in practice," Lane said. "At the start of the year our defense was just kicking our butts every day. Now, we can give the defense a hard time and that's saying something since we have a great defense."

Indeed, as McMackin put it, "Greg is really coming along and you can see it in practice. He is really confident and the whole offense is starting to have a swagger."

Beginning with the guy who, growing true to the tradition of UH quarterbacks, hardly played in the fourth quarter.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.