Jones brought back past for a day
By Ferd Lewis
So, this is what the run-and-shoot offense is supposed to look like.
Twenty-four months after coaching his last game on the Aloha Stadium sideline for the University of Hawai'i football team, coach June Jones and his high-powered offense returned yesterday and couldn't have been more at home in Hālawa if they'd put their feet up on the furniture and belted out a chorus of E Na Toa.
Instead, Jones and his Southern Methodist University Mustangs walked all over Nevada in a 45-10 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl smackdown that harkened to some of the highlights of his record-setting nine-year stay as the Warriors' head coach.
Receivers running wide open downfield — and a quarterback finding them for huge gains? A statement-making defense?
At times, if not for the red, white and blue of the Mustangs, you almost catch yourself wondering if it was a replay of the point-a-plenty 2006 or '07 UH seasons in a 31-0 first half.
Say what you want about the often controversial Jones or his stunning post-Sugar Bowl departure, but the man can coach. And this game, one in which the Mustangs were 11 1/2-point underdogs on the Las Vegas betting line and picked to lose by 91 percent of the respondents to an ESPN national internet survey, was Exhibit A.
For four quarters true freshman quarterback Kyle Padron recalled Colt Brennan in completing 32 of 41 passes for two touchdowns and 460 yards without an interception. And to think Padron was the Plan B quarterback when returning starter, Bo Levi Mitchell, went down with a season-ending injury Oct. 24.
It made for a long day for the Mustangs' shetland pony mascot, Peruna, who dashed the length of the field after every SMU score.
But it was nothing compared to Nevada, the thoroughly embarrassed Western Athletic Conference representative, that was never really in this one.
Much of the announced crowd of 20,217 was still making its way in from snarled traffic by the time SMU was up 14-0 barely halfway into the first quarter with the help of 71- and 58-yard pass completions.
Soon it got to the point where you wished the game had a mercy rule. Or that UH had managed to become bowl eligible as some SMU folks confided afterward.
But the way Jones and the Mustang coaches — several from his old UH staff — and players were on their game — offensively and defensively — and taking Nevada out of its, maybe it was better that it was a WAC rival that got served up on this day.
SMU did what UH and everybody in the WAC, except Boise State, was unable to do: force fleet footed Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick to do what he was the least comfortable and adept at, passing. The Mustangs succeeded at hitting big plays early, building up a substantial lead and taking the Wolf Pack out of its game.
It helped that Kaepernick didn't have his two 1,000-yard running mates, Vai Taua (academic ineligible) and Luke Lippincott (injury). But the way SMU went at it as if trying to make up for 25 bowl-less seasons in one huge leap, maybe it would have changed only the final margin.
Said Jones: "It just felt good to be at what I call home on our sideline ... "
While SMU fans chanted, "Thank you, June," and the Mustang band massed outside the locker room to shout his name, Hawai'i fans held up signs such as, "Welcome Home June Jones, punish Nevada."
After he had in a triumphant return, a group in section "BB" chanted, "June, We need you back."