Hawai'i lineman Brandon Eaton has said that his team will "blow the Broncos out of the water. They don't know what to expect." I'm hoping that there is not an unforeseen tsunami that will force tonight's football game to be played under water but rather on the dry FieldTurf of Aloha Stadium. Then we can all see who blows who off the field, or if it is in fact a close college football game.
The game (10:05 start Boise time) pits the Broncos (1-2) against the Rainbow Warriors (1-2) in the first WAC football game for both teams. Hawai'i hired former National Football League coach Jerry Glanville to coach the defense this year, and the unit has responded with aggressive play similiar to that when Mike Price took over UTEP. In other words, Boise State's offense will have to play smart and hold on to the football.
It will match a game of styles; the run and shoot of Hawai'i against the balanced attack of the Broncos. Led by new quarterback Colt Brennan (who is trying to fill the shoes of Timmy Chang), Coach June Jones' offense is the #9 passing attack in college football going into today's action. Brennan will be facing the #107 pass defense in the country in Boise State. Hawai'i is averaging 326 yards per game while the Boise State secondary is giving up 298. On paper, Brennan should put up big numbers against the Broncos. However, Coach Dan Hawkins challenged the young secondary to be more aggressive itself and they responded with a solid performance against Bowling Green last week. Can they make it two weeks in a row?
Hawai'i uses the run merely to disguise its nearly all-pass offense, so its rank of #109 in that department is not surprising. Boise State is #55 against the run, giving up 116 yards per game so far this season.
Boise State's strength is its running game, where it is averaging 218 yards per contest (#21 in the nation). Hawai'i has played two very tough teams in USC and Michigan State, and has given up an average of 139 yards (#67). This will be a different Hawai'i defense than the one the Broncos faced last year in Boise. First, the Rainbow Warriors play much different at home than on the mainland. Second, Glanville and the difference that he has already made. Third, the unit that was embarrassed 69-3 last year was banged up and demoralized--this group is fired up.
The outcome of tonight's game may be greatly influenced by how well Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky faces the pressure of the attacking Hawai'i defense and its wild fans. They will try to force Z into turnovers and poor decisions. The Broncos have the #86 passing offense while Hawai'i's pass defense is ranked 85th. Boise State has been averaging 188 yards through the air while Hawai'i has been giving up 251 yards a game. However, the Rainbow Warriors have been facing better quarterbacks (Matt Linehart of USC is #2 in the nation in passing efficiency) so Boise State's passing numbers should be somewhere between those two figures.
Special teams favor Boise State. The Broncos work hard in this area and are consistent. The kickoff return unit is 16th in the country, with a touchdown by Lee Marks last week.
Above all, Boise State must prove to themselves and the rest of the WAC that they can win on the road and win convincingly. Their last three road trips have resulted in losses (Louisville 44-40, Georgia 48-13 and Oregon State 30-27). A good team wins no matter where the location and for the 2005 Broncos, their 2003 slogan is appropriate: "Prove It!"
Boise State Offense:
QB #5 Jared Zabransky (6-2, 204, Jr.)
RB #17 Lee Marks (5-7, 181, Sr.)
FB #34 Brad Lau (5-11, 256, Jr.)
WR #1 Jerard Rabb (6-2, 203, Jr.)
WR #4 Legedu Naanee (6-2, 226, Jr.)
TE #91 Derek Schouman (6-2, 229, Jr.)
LT #73 Daryn Colledge (6-5, 304, Sr.)
LG #66 Tad Miller (6-4, 311, So.)
C #54 Jeff Cavender (6-2, 285, So.)
RG #64 Pete Cavender (6-2, 287, So.)
RT #71 Ryan Keating (6-4, 317, Jr.)
Boise State Defense:
DE #97 Nick Schlekeway (6-4, 260, So.)
DT #99 Alex Guerrero (6-1, 292, Sr.)
DT #57 Andrew Browning (6-0, 278, Jr.)
DE #96 Mike G. Williams (6-3, 248, Jr.)
SLB #31 Colt Brooks (6-1, 218, Jr.)
MLB #25 Korey Hall (6-1, 230, Jr.)
WLB #55 Chris Barrios (5-11, 224, Sr.)
LCB #2 Gerald Alexander (6-0, 200, Jr.)
RCB #16 Orlando Scandrick (5-11, 174, Fr.)
Rover #37 Austin Smith (5-9, 179, So.)
FS #20 Marty Tadman (5-11, 181, So.)
Boise State Special Teams:
PK #47 Anthony Montgomery (6-1, 215, Jr.)
P #42 Kyle Stringer (5-8, 202, Jr.)
KR #23 Quinton Jones (5-9, 186, Jr.)
KR #17 Lee Marks (5-7, 181, Sr.)
PR #37 Austin Smith (5-9, 170, So.)
QB #15 Colt Brennan (6-3, 190, So.)
TB #4 Nate Ilaoa (5-9, 248, Sr.)
WR #5 Michael Washington (5-7, 160, Fr.)
WR #7 Davone Bess (5-10, 187, Fr.)
WR #1 Ryan Grice-Mullen (5-10, 174, Fr.)
LT #70 Tata Esera (6-4, 295, Jr.)
LG #64 Samson Satele (6-3, 311, Jr.)
C #59 Derek Faavi (6-1, 273, Sr.)
RG #66 Brandon Eaton (6-2, 297, Sr.)
RT #72 Dane Uperesa (6-5, 331, Jr.)
DT #98 Melila Purcell (6-5, 266, Sr.)
NT #67 Michael Lafaele (6-1, 297, So.)
DE #91 Ikaika Alama-Francis (6-5, 215, Jr.)
OLB #45 Tanuvasa Moe (6-0, 225, Sr.)
ILB #41 Solomon Elimimian (5-11, 224, Fr.)
ILB #43 Brad Kalilimoku (5-10, 204, So.)
OLB #1 Kila Kamakawiwo'ole (6-3, 237, Sr.)
CB #35 Keao Monteih (5-11, 170, So.)
CB #24 Kenny Patton (6-0, 184, Jr.)
SS #15 Lono Manners (5-10, 199, Sr.)
FS #8 Landon Kafentzis (6-0, 202 Sr.)
Hawai'i Special Teams:
PK #99 Dan Kelly (6-3, 199, Fr.)
P #25 Kurt Milne (5-11, 208, Jr.)
KR and PR Andre Taylor