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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 23, 2008

UH to face QB who is Colt-like

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

For a remarkable three-year run that we're now only beginning to fully appreciate, the University of Hawai'i luxuriated in the knowledge that, over the long haul, nobody it played had a more accurate quarterback.

With Colt Brennan completing, on average, 70 percent of his passes, the Warriors enjoyed an unmatched edge in passing precision at the position.

But this year, suddenly, the Warriors find themselves staring at the other end of the equation. With the arrival of San Jose State Saturday, the statistics suggest the marksman is in the other camp. A sharpshooter takes aim at them.

The Spartans' Kyle Reed, an intriguing combination of inexperience and raw talent, is completing 79.4 percent of his passes, the best mark in the NCAA.

It's an amazing number, one made even more impressive as a fourth-year junior who hadn't tossed so much as a wounded duck in a college game until midway through the 2008 opener.

"Kyle Reed is just ... I mean, I've never seen a guy ... he's completing almost 80 percent of his passes," marveled the Spartans' Dick Tomey, a 28-year head coaching veteran, groping for words.

"The thing you don't understand is that this guy didn't have spring practice," Tomey said. "He broke his foot, he missed spring practice. He was getting third-team (repetitions) in the fall, which is practically nothing. And, he went into that first game and just lit it up."

Reed, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound transfer from California, came off the bench to rally San Jose State from a 10-0 deficit and spare the Spartans what would have been an ignominious season-opening defeat to lower-division UC Davis, 13-10.

But it wasn't just UC Davis that Reed, who had been ranked the No. 7 quarterback in the country coming out of high school by Super Prep, has had his moments against. Reed has been exacting in his throws against Nebraska, Stanford and San Diego State. Last week he completed 23 of 26 passes against Stanford including the first 15 in a row and would have set a WAC record had another not been dropped.

To be sure, the Spartans have carefully tailored things for Reed and have used a lot of short, quick passes. Still, Tomey gushes, "There's no way anybody could have expected him to be as effective. Basically, he had not played in a football game in three years and nine months since high school. He went to Cal and did not play a snap. He did not play a snap here last year (as a redshirt)."

Sometimes that inexperience is glaringly evident. Such as when he became flummoxed by the zone blitz and breakdowns in pass protection and was sacked eight times by the Cardinal. At other times, Reed's accuracy can be uncanny and dangerous.

Few places can that be appreciated more this year than at Aloha Stadium.

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