Football: Nevada-Hawaii Post-Game Interviews

A productive victory over Nevada left some ill effects, to say the least. The worst of it was a knee injury to big-play receiver Chad Owens. RSN talked with several Warriors post-game.

Post-Game: Nevada-UH

By Paul Honda
Senior Writer
Monday, Oct. 13, 2002

HALAWA--For just about every athlete, the moment comes when the universal question is unveiled: Why?

That has to be a question Chad Owens found no answers for. The elusive wide receiver scored on a scintillating 50-yard touchdown catch-and-run, but sustained a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee. The hit on the very end of the play, a collision while Owens dove past the left pylon of the end zone, was legitimate, but it takes none of the disappointment away for the Roosevelt graduate.



RSN: You guys won. That's a good thing. But you had to watch it from the sidelines.

Chad
Owens: It always sucks not to play, but to see our team execute the way we did without me, it felt great. It gives other guys opportunities to step up, and I think we did. Britton Komine had a great game. We had to pick up the slack, and we did it. We just played together tonight and came out with a big win. We needed it, especially after a loss like last week.

RSN: After watching the tapes (of Nevada), were you surprised the guys scored this easily today with or without you?

CO: Like I said, it all comes down to execution. It was one of those games where offensively we executed the way we should. We should always have games like this. We should always put up points. If we execute right, we should always put up points like this.

RSN: What's going through your mind right now, the possibilities?

CO: I just want to make sure our team keeps winning. With or without me, I'll be with them, we have to keep the momentum off this win and take it into the Tulsa game next week. We've got another one at home and I hope we come out with another big win.

RSN: You never really had an injury like this before. Maybe ankle injuries from basketball.

CO: Yeah.

RSN: By the way, that was a sweet run.

CO: Thanks.


Post-game: Isaac Sopoaga



Perhaps as much as any game to this point, Hawaii got superlative penetration at times from its defensive line. Though gap responsibilities, as Jones mentioned for a second week in a row, still need improvement, Isaac Sopoaga was borderline hellacious Saturday night.

The long game—the contest was on its way to a five-hour marathon before both teams mercifully ran the ball in the final quarter—took a toll on both teams. Sopoaga, showing improved endurance, is starting to prove his pre-UH credentials true to form.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound junior transfer from College of the Canyons waited more than a year to make his presence felt on the Aloha Stadium turf. During that time, he commuted from Leeward Oahu to UH daily—and yes, he hated the traffic—but it was a wait well worth enduring.

The UH minister of defense—two of his uncles are ordained clergymen—accumulated four solo tackles, five in all, to lead the Warrior D-line.

RSN: Hey, that was a long game. Did you start to feel it out there?

Isaac Sopoaga: It was a long first half for us, but to me, it was fun because we were up by so many points. The main thing is that we won so everyone can go home with a smile on their faces.

RSN: I gotta feel for you guys on defense because when the offense got the ball, they were scoring so fast that the defense never really gets a breather. You sit for a second and boom—you're back on the field.

IS: Well, to me, I have no complaints about that. It's all about the heart. If you have a big heart, you can do it all. It doesn't matter if you have less than 10 seconds of rest. You do what you gotta do. … This is my first year of playing (Division I) ball, and it's my first time seeing things like this. Our whole defense played well and played good.

RSN: Did you guys prepare for more passing from Nevada? I know coach (Kevin) Lempa was saying that he would be ready with nickels and dimes. They came out sometimes with a double tight end set. Did that surprise you guys? 

IS: To me, I was ready for the pass and run. Main thing is, we won the game.

RSN: Thanks, man.


Post-game: Abraham Eliminian



When Abraham Eliminian went down with an injury three weeks ago, Warrior fans had reason to be concerned. A relatively green corps of defensive backs would be tested, but to everyone's delight, freshman Kenny Patton stepped in nicely.

With Eliminian back, the secondary is stronger than ever. With five tackles and a sweet interception in his return Saturday, the 5-10, 173-pound sophomore from Los Angeles is happy as can be.

RSN: Abraham.

Abraham Eliminian: How you doing?

RSN: You happy?

AE: I'm very happy. It's a good win, especially when you come back, you know, from not playing two games. I was very hungry to play, you know. I was trying everything in my power, you know, to get in the minds of the other receivers. I knew that was the key. This week, it was all about the defense. If we stopped them early, it gave the offense a chance to produce, and that's what we did.

RSN: Describe the interception.

AE: It felt great. I mean, all the hard work finally paid off. I'm so happy right now, I can't really explain it.

RSN: Lempa talked about being ready with nickel packages and dime packages, but Nevada went with double tight end part of the time.

AE: Oh yeah, they did.

RSN: Did it surprise you guys?

AE: Well, it didn't really surprise us.

RSN: It was on tape.

AE: Yeah, it was on tape. You know, the coaches broke down every formation, so it really didn't surprise us. What did was, sometimes we had the wrong personnel out there so we couldn't react too fast, but that was pretty much it. When we go nickel, we can't that against double tight ends, you know, because we cover down the extra receiver, so we had to change it up sometimes.

RSN: Unless you're playing Madden.

AE: Exactly.

RSN: And then you can flip into a 46.

AE: Exactly! (laughs)

RSN: Were you surprised they didn't stick with the double tight end? It seemed to work for them.

AE: I think they had everybody fooled. They wanted to run the ball a lot more than they were saying, you know. But when we got up, you know, the gameplan changed all of a sudden.

RSN: They gave up on the ground game a little.

AE: Exactly.

RSN: How come they stopped running?

AE: I don't care what anybody says, teams have tried to pass the ball against us and lost if we get interceptions and turnovers. If you look at our win-loss margins, you know, it's all about turnovers. When we win, we get turnovers. When we lose, we don't get no turnovers, you know, so …

RSN: So, you're good at Madden?

AE: I'm into Madden and College Football 2002.

RSN: John West says he's the best. Have you played him yet? 

AE: Come to my house. I'm the champion. Everybody will tell you that right now.

RSN: You play more Madden or NCAA?

AE: NCAA.

RSN: I like Madden.

AE: College, you know? We're in college right now. When John West maybe gets to the next level, then you know, maybe he can play that.

RSN: Thanks Abraham. 

Post-game: June Jones



Coming off a jolting defeat at Boise State, nothing could've been better than a confidence-building rout of normally tough Nevada. June Jones, who rarely gets too high—or too low—was pleased with everything but the unfortunate injury situation.

June Jones: We scripted the plays that way to get a fast start, and we did. We still gotta make the plays, though. Timmy made the throw and Britton made the catch. We executed and got it done.

Media: Forty-two points in the first quarter—did you ever imagine that as a scenario for this game?  

JJ: I, uh, I would not have ever guessed that. This game scared a little more than any of the other ones we've played. You know, the guys came ready to play, and we're at home and we want to maintain our home-field advantage, and we did.

Media: Did a lot of it have to do with the damage done last week? Did these guys come out and say we have to take care of business early?

JJ: Um, I don't know how much it is. You know, every game to me is a new day and, uh, you know, I expect that every week. We've played hard all year and it's good to get that win.

Media: What about Britt? He seems to be getting to another level.

JJ: Yeah, Britton's been playing very well, and he's been spot playing, doing a lot of good things. Finally, he got an opportunity to play. I started him ahead of Clifton because Clifton has been struggling with his shoulder, and I knew it wasn't going to get any better if he kept playing, so … we're down, really, to two or three guys in there, so Britton stepped up and had a big game.



Media: Is there anything you're disappointed in tonight?

JJ: Ah, I'm disappointed, you know, that we didn't stop them when we needed to stop them. We'll just look at the tape and try to get better, but we've gotta improve for the meat of our schedule. We're gonna have to play good defense. You know, even though we won tonight, they still ran the ball, they still had a lot of yards. We've gotta get ‘em off the field.

Media: How about Timmy?

JJ: Uh, you know, I've been saying he just has to play. He's rusty. He's starting to get better game by game. He played better last week and he played better this week. You know, he's a football player. He's competitive, and he'll be a better passer before he graduates.

Media: Coach, could you talk a little bit about Shawn (Withy-Allen)?

JJ: Uh, Shawn played real well. You know, he, uh, has answered the call every time we put him in and is throwing the ball more accurately. He gives us another dimension running the ball. He plays physical when he has to.

Media: How about your offensive output tonight in the first quarter?

JJ: Well, you know, that's obviously the biggest here, ever. Hopefully, we'll top that sometime again. I haven't been around this offense many times. I remember we had 1,000 yards in one game offensively at Portland State, so you can always do better (laughs).

Media: Can you talk about the damage done to Chad Owens?

JJ: You know, he's gonna have an MRI. They believe he has a torn medial collateral (ligament) in his right knee. He may be done for the year, I don't know. We'll see on the MRI.

Media: Thanks coach.

JJ: Okay.


Post-game: Britton Komine



Who knew that former Saint Louis (ILH powerhouse) all-state passer Tim Chang would help former Pac-Five (no ILH title in two decades) receiver Britton Komine have a huge night one day?

For Komine, it's been a matter of patience and resilience.

Media: So where have you been all this time?

Britton Komine: Um, just waiting in the wings, waiting for my shot. Getting better at practice. Guys get hurt. This is what happens. Just getting better and waiting for my shot.

Media: But that's like (Ashley) Lelie kind of numbers.

BK: Ooh, (Nick) Rolovich kind of numbers. Rolo was waiting around for a long time and things happened.

(Editor's note: See more about Komine in Kalani Takase's story on RSN.)


Post-game: Tim Chang

Passing for 381 yards is quite a feat, especially when it happens in the midst of a health problem.

Tim Chang overcame a staph infection, brought on by a turf injury, to lead the Warriors to victory.

Media:
It's gotta be nice when you get 600, 700 yards in offense.

Tim Chang: It is nice. It was a great effort on the line's part, the receivers getting to their spots and catching the ball, and Shawn played well. He ran the ball and threw the ball upfield. We're just keep trying to improve each and every week, and we've got Tulsa next week, so we'll see what we can do with them.

Media: 42 to 10, the first quarter was like a game in itself.

TC: Yeah, it was, and it was exciting. Special teams played well. The defense played really, really well. You know, they stopped the high-powered offense. We're able to get up on these guys early. When we got up on them early, maybe they folded or they backed down. It was a great team effort. We finally put one together and we're just gonna tgake momentum into next week.

Media: How much does that psyche you as a quarterback, that first connection is 72 yards, touchdown, you're already ahead. We haven't even started the ball game.

TC: I don't know. I didn't really show much emotion. I just stood still and pointed at my coach and ran down and shook everybody's hand. I knew (
Nevada) could score just as fast. They're such a great team. I was real shocked when that No. 80 (Nate Burleson) just jumped and leaped on one of those passes. That's why they're one of the top offenses in the nation. The defense did a great job getting us the ball and giving us the opportunity to put the ball in the end zone.

Post-game: Chris Brown



 

Britton Komine wasn't the only former Interscholastic League of Honolulu standout to help Hawaii to victory over Nevada Saturday.

Chris Brown, who was one of the bright spots at Damien during his high school career, is like Komine, a former Pac-Five standout. Both are testaments to the power of perseverance.  

Media:
How much of this was because of last week's bad game or last year's lost to Nevada?

 

Chris Brown: This week, the whole motto for us was revenge, and we got it. It was a good win. The offense got us so pumped up with what they were doing out there. It got us motivated and we tried to play our game. We had some mistakes, but I think we did well overall.

 

Media: Going in, you guys knew this was gonna be a track meet and knowing when you have to make a stand.

CB: Yeah, we knew that they were gonna make plays. Like Coach Jones said, it's just one snap and clear. If they make a mistake, then it's the next snap that matters, so that's what we did. They had some plays and we had to counter off of that. I think we did our jobs, enough to win.

Media: How much will this help you down the road? Coach said you guys are really going to have to step it up on defense.

CB: Oh yeah, we still made some mistakes. We feel they should not have scored as many points as they did. We'll have to look back at film and see the mistakes that we made.

Media: Talk about the season—it's been the offense that you've held up. This time around, they took the ball and they went with it.

CB: Yeah, like I said, they got us so motivated to do what we did out there. Tonight, it was the offense's game. We're gonna have to play at that level, too. The next games coming up, we're gonna have to play flawless because the next teams coming up are going to be a big challenge for us.

Media: Is this kind of game a pain in the butt? From seven minutes left in the first quarter, it was done already.

 

CB: Yeah, we were kind of trippin' out. We were looking up, it's the first quarter and there's 42 points up there. It was kind of trippy for us. It was the first time that we were ever put in that situation. It was fun because we knew that we had the win and we just had to go out there and play the rest of the game.

Media: Was the halftime speech kind of relaxed?

CB: Yeah, definitely. If we can score that many points in the first half, (
Nevada
) can, too. What coach was telling us in the lockerroom was, we've gotta keep the intensity up and play even harder because they're coming out to get us.


Post-game: John West, Pisa Tinoisamoa


 

John West rambled for more than 60 yards in part-time duty, but he also saw time on special teams as a returner, giving fans plenty of chances to see what the former Leilehua star can do.

Outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who led Hawaii with eight tackles, also stripped the ball loose on a fumble, returned it five yards, then lost it right back to Nevada.

So close, yet so far. RSN caught up with West, then Tinoisamoa, after the game.

RSN:
Nice game.

John West: Yeah, I give a lot of credit to the O-line, and the team, we all believe in each other.

RSN: Are you still the Madden champ?

JW: What? 
 

RSN: You still the Madden champ?

JW: Uh, uh … actually, I lost to Thero (Mitchell) today (laughs).

RSN: Now describe those touchdowns you made. You got the touchdowns before you got some hard yardage. But then you got called for a penalty after one of the touchdowns. What happened?

JW: I just got a little caught up. I had to settle down a little bit.

RSN: But you didn't spike the ball, right? What'd you do? You just threw the ball up in the air?

JW: Sorta kinda.

RSN: Can you teach Pisa how to tuck the ball in?

JW: Pisa's the man. I mean, he just got … excited (laughs).

RSN: Pisa, you haven't played running back since high school, right?

Pisa Tinoisamoa: Uh, yeah, I forgot a little of the skills. Ballhandling, you know. There's plenty more of that where it came from, I'm hoping. I was just lazy with the ball. You know, I smelled the end zone; I thought I could get there. They didn't give up, and pretty much shows how good a team they are. They didn't give up and they made a play.

RSN: You guys knew they would come out maybe in double tights, but then they caught you off guard sometimes. Then they got away from it, I guess, because they felt like they were losing big.

PT: That's what we wanted to do. We wanted to get them one dimensional, try to shut down that run and make them pass. It seemed there were times they could pass and some times they could run, but for the most part, I think our defense played pretty well. We need to get a lot better at a lot of things, so we're hoping to do that in these following weeks.

RSN: That (Nevada) double tight end run around the right side—I hate watching that kind of offense, but for them, I thought, how come they don't keep doing it, even if they're down two touchdowns. They couldn't throw it on you guys.
 

PT: Um, no, they couldn't throw it. We wanted to shut them down, but the defense we were playing, it was allowing them to run to the outside. That was the one play that hurt us, so we're looking to look at the film and get better on that one play.

RSN: So how does this get you ready for
Tulsa
?

PT: Yeah, we can't sleep on any team. The WAC, you know, some teams show up one week, and sometimes they won't. We just gotta go and play every team like, like they're contenders for the WAC because that's what everyone is right about now. All we can do is work hard and win every game from now on, hope everything works
out.

RSN: My last question is, in the WAC, because of all the travel, how much different is it to play at home? You have BYU which loses at
Nevada, Nevada
comes here and you guys tear ‘em up. Is it different from other conferences, you think?

PT: Aahh, yeah, especially because a lot of players we have are from here. I think that they're based out here and they're used to playing in front of the home crowd and getting emotional in front of their friends and family. Um, when you travel east any time, that's always the hardest way to travel, but we've gotta learn, if we wanna be a championship team, we've got two hard games on the road. We've got to learn to play with those adversities, and hopefully we can overcome them and be the WAC championship team we know we can be.

RSN: Did you feel like the world got to see some of your game now now that you got more than two carries.


JW:
I felt as if they got to see a little bit more out of me. I plan on getting a little more out of me and the O-line, that they keep believing in me like I believe in them, and things are gonna keep happening.

RSN:
Returning kicks, did you volunteer for that or did they ask you?

JW: I'm like the backup anyway, so I was prepared to do the job.

RSN: What went through your mind when you saw
Chad get hurt?

JW: It was definitely a heartbreaker. He's a great guy and he works hard. I mean, injuries happen, and I hope he really breaks through and gets through it fast and gets back to us real fast.

RSN: Is it true you guys are working on a wishbone for next week?

JW: I don't know. You'll just have to stay tuned.

RSN: Thanks John.



Post-game: Shawn Withy-Allen


Former Kalaheo student-athlete Shawn Withy-Allen continued to make a difference for the UH football team.

His accuracy and ability to run with the ball effectively—without turning it over—continues to be a weapon at Coach June Jones' disposal. "He gives other teams something else to think about," Jones said of Withy-Allen.

Media:
What did you think of your performance tonight?

Shawn Withy-Allen: Um, I was very grateful to get a chance. It was good just to help the team win. I kind of expected, you know, that I'd get a little time and coach said we have some plays we want you to run. Every play, I'm trying to do the best I can to execute it, so hopefully it'll add on more plays in the future.


Media: All through preseason, you knew it was the long ball know you can throw. It was the short patterns, the timing patterns. Tonight, it looked like you were ‘em right out there. 

SWA: Yeah, that's really been my focus for the whole … basically, that's been really my focus for the whole last four years. I've always been able to throw a good deep ball. I lose a little concentration. Short balls are a lot easier than mine. So I've really focused on buckling down and making accurate throws every time. Working my footwork and getting my timing down.

Media: They came into the game the leading pass offense (in the WAC). You guys kind of shook that up.

SWA: Yeah, the receivers did an amazing job. The O-line, I don't think we gave up a sack all night. The O-line was just on top of everything. The receivers did a good job getting open and catching the ball even though it was a little wet. They kept catching the ball and bailing me and Tim out on a couple of throws. We were fortunate we were getting it to them.

Media: As a quarterback, this is the dream offense when you get 600-plus yards. You guys just knew you'd be throwing it all over the place.

SWA: Yeah, this offense, you couldn't ask for a better offense as a quarterback, especially a quarterback like myself because there's a lot of open running lanes, as well. Tonight was just a good show of how good this offense can be. It's really what we should do every week, you know. Coach Jones puts in a great gameplan every week and sometimes we kind of shoot ourselves in the foot in our execution, but tonight we executed perfectly.



Craig Stutzman, John West


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