Hawaii hopes to pick up steam
By Stephen Tsai
There were heavy rains throughout the past week, but the proverbial dark cloud was lifted from the collective mood of the Hawai'i football team.
Following last week's victory over Utah State, which ended a six-game losing streak, the Warriors were decidedly more upbeat during practices leading to today's game against New Mexico State. Kickoff is at 5:05 p.m.
But while the Warriors have regained confidence, they maintain they are not over-confident.
"We're 3-6," head coach Greg McMackin said of the Warriors' overall record. "How can you get over-confident?"
Instead, the Warriors find themselves in the same position as last week — out of mulligans.
The remaining carrot is a winning regular season and accompanying berth in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. That is only possible if the Warriors win their final four of this 13-game regular season, starting with today's game against New Mexico State.
"This is an important game for us, more important than last week's game," McMackin said. "We got by last week's game."
The Aggies are 3-6 overall and 1-3 in the Western Athletic Conference. They have lost their last three games. They are 0-5 against the Warriors.
The Aggies have struggled mightily on offense, averaging 11.8 points per game. Their biggest output was 21 points, in a three-point victory over Division I-AA Prairie View A&M.
They have scored 10 points in their last three games.
But UH outside linebacker Corey Parades said: "We're not over-confident, and we're not underestimating anybody. We're preparing for New Mexico State. We know they're a good team. We've been working hard and watching a lot of tape and trying to get better."
Defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga said last week's outcome "reminded us how good we can be. We needed that."
While the Warriors resurrected their running game — against Utah State, Leon Wright-Jackson rushed for 167 yards and Alex Green added 110 — and quarterback Bryant Moniz continues to improve, there still are concerns.
Injuries and ailments have prevented the Warriors from having a fully attended practice this past week.
Right wideout Jovonte Taylor missed three practices while receiving treatment for a staph infection in his right arm.
Wideout Royce Pollard, who has missed four games because of a hairline fracture in his left fibula, was poised to return this week. But he aggravated the injury during Wednesday's practice. He experienced pain, and did not practice Thursday.
Right cornerback Jeramy Bryant likely will miss his third consecutive game because of torn left biceps.
But outside linebacker R.J. Kiesel-Kauhane, who has a fractured left hand, is expected to play. His left hand was heavily bandaged during the Utah State game.
The Warriors also are hoping to heal an ailing kicking game. Scott Enos has missed three consecutive field-goal attempts. Last week, his first kick was blocked. He hooked his second kick when he tried to hurry his approach.
The Warriors opened the competition at placekicker this past week with Enos and Brian Blumberg split the reps.
Reach Stephen Tsai at 525-8051. Visit Tsai's blog at http://warriorbeat.honadvblogs.com