Road to success is to build depth
By Ferd Lewis
You look at the 4,956-mile commercial flight to Newark, N.J., the University of Hawai'i football team is scheduled to take for the Sept. 11 Army game, and gulp.
Then, there is flying to Las Vegas for a four-day layover before going on to Boulder, Colo., site of the Sept. 18 game at Colorado.
Three games (two of them on the road) into the 2010 season and the Warriors figure to have covered more than 11,000 miles — or nearly the distance from Honolulu to Moscow (the one in Russia, not Idaho). And, yet, with four more road games remaining, they will still have the equivalent of once around the globe to look forward to.
So, there are two ways of looking at the 2010 Warriors' schedule that was released recently: There are the games themselves and, then, there is all that comes with them.
Which is why the spring practice that opens eight days from now in Mānoa will be an especially important one.
With all that traveling up front, not to mention a lack of an open date until after the 10th game, UH will need to build up some depth for this season, an area that cost it in a 6-7 finish in 2009.
The Warriors' 2009 schedule was ranked 93rd among 120 programs by the NCAA for strength of opposition based upon a 61-71 (.462) record by their major college foes.
The 2010 opposition, again, is hardly Murderer's Row. UH's 12 major college opponents went a combined 73-78 (.483) last season. As many of them were in the Bottom Ten as the Top 10. And, then, there is Charleston Southern, a Football Championship Subdivision team.
So, the road to redemption for the Warriors, though made challenging by more travel than any NFL team (regular and exhibition season) faced in 2009, is hardly impossible. In fact, it is navigable, with some depth.
Phil Steele, author of Phil Steele's College Football Preview magazines, said he handicaps UH's season this way:
Six games in which "Hawai'i will be favored" (Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech, Idaho, San Jose State, New Mexico State and Nevada-Las Vegas).
Three games that are "tossups" (Army, Nevada and Utah State).
Four games in which "Hawai'i will be an underdog" (USC, Colorado, Fresno State and Boise State).
Said Steele: "Every year I have a 'most improved' list where I pick teams with losing records that will get to a bowl the next year. Right now, I would give Hawai'i about a 90 percent chance of making that list!"
The list comes out in May, and Steele, like a lot of us, will be waiting to see how the Warriors emerge from spring practice.