Alabama was breaking in a new quarterback Saturday night in sophomore John Parker Wilson. Hawaii was going with its record-setting junior Colt Brennan. Both did surprisingly well in the Crimson Tide's 25-17 win.
It had to be a surprise that Wilson would complete 16 of 29 passes for 253 yards for a touchdown with no interceptions and only one sack.
And part of the reason for that being a surprise is that Alabama had nearly as many passes as runs.
With star halfback Kenneth Darby picking up only 25 yards on 16 carries, the Bama running game was an anemic 36 carries for 125 yards.
It wasn't a surprise that Hawaii threw often. What was a surprise was that Bama's defense, one of the nation's most stingy the past couple of years, couldn't seem to handle it. Hawaii had particular success with a little shovel pass to its running backs.
Brennan finished with 30 completions in 44 attempts for 350 yards with two touchdowns. He did suffer one interception--on the final play of the game by the Tide's Lionel Mitchell--and was sacked twice.
In part because of a botched punt that went for a 23-yard loss and a safety, Hawaii had 15 rushes for only 22 net yards.
Keith Brown had a big night as receiver, pulling in six catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Nick Walker had two catches for 38 yards, Will Oakley 2-25, Matt Caddell 3-24, tight end Travis McCall 1-15, fullback Tim Castille 1-12, and Darby 1-7.
True freshman Leigh Tiffin was good on field goal attempts of 31, 27, and 23 yards and missed on a 31-yarder.
Bama also had a new man on kickoff returns. Freshman Javier Arenas had four runbacks for 87 yards, the longest 31 yards.
And new punter P.J. Fitzgerald performed well under pressure, punting four times for a 39.8 average with a long of 55 and two downed inside the Hawaii 20, one at the Warriors' one-yard line.
Tide kickoff coverage was not good as the Warriors had five runbacks for 143 yards.
Alabama had 20 first downs (7 rush, 12 pass, 1 penalty), Hawaii 18 (1 rush, 17 pass).
Alabama had total offense of 378 yards, Hawaii 372. Bama's came on 65 plays, 5.8 yards per play. The Warriors had 59 plays, 6.3 yards per play.
Hawaii was penalized 11 times for 82 yards, Bama 5-34.
Alabama was successful on 6-15 third down opportunities and the only fourth down try by the Tide. Hawaii was good on five of 12 third downs and did not convert on three fourth down tries.
Alabama scored on four of five trips into the Red Zone, Hawaii on one of two.
Alabama dominated time of possession, 35:44 to 24:16.
Juwan Simpson was in on nine tackles (three primary, six assist), Jeffrey Dukes on seven (four primary, three assist) and Marcus Carter and Rashad Johnson six each (both four primary, two assist). Sacks were turned in by Zach Schreiber, Terrence Jones, and Prince Hall. Wallace Gilberry had two quarterback pressures and Simeon Castille had a pass break-up.