Catching Up With Colt Brennan

Hawaii QB Colt Brennan led his team last week against a spirited Louisiana Tech squad.'s Chris Steuber talked to the Heisman candidate about the game and the pressure of being a QB in Hawaii's offense.

Chris Steuber: What were your feelings on playing Louisiana Tech and how the game transpired?

Colt Brennan: The last time I played Louisiana Tech [2006], I felt something I never really felt before walking onto a football field. We were five time zones away from home. It was just so weird. I wondered how I'd feel this time. There is just something, I don't know what it is, but if feels like you're half asleep. I knew that going in, but I figured Louisiana Tech had a new coaching staff, and weren't where they want to be. I figured maybe it wouldn't be a blow out, but I thought we'd be able to handle the game. But from the get go, they hit us with a lot of soul. They put up some points early on us and they let us know that they were going to be there the whole game. We started battling back and gained control of the game. Unfortunately we had two key turnovers in the red zone during times that we could have put the game away, but we let them right back in the game. After that, the game turned into a barnburner. We had a short week of travel, different elements --  I'm not making excuses, and I don't want to take anything away from Louisiana Tech, because they played an unbelievable game -- but I think we're the better team. We didn't come that far to lose, so we just battled through and made sure we got the "W." It was a great character win for us, and it should do a lot for us down the road.

CS: Louisiana Tech jumped right on you guys in the first quarter cruising to a 14-point lead. Then you battled back at the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter to tie it up at 14. What were your feelings on how they jumped right on you from the beginning?

Brennan: We've been in so many games like that before, so it wasn't a first time experience for us. Last year we started out 1-2, and it wasn't until we won eight or nine games in a row we gained respect. We've always been a team that's had to battle as an underdog. Being down, we're used to that, and we have no problem battling teams. We weren't freaking out, we just said let's wait for stuff to happen for us and let's stop making mistakes. We'll just keep battling, keep fighting and not give up.

CS: Did Louisiana Tech do anything defensively that caught you off guard?

Brennan: It wasn't really defensively. They did a great job of ball control early in the first half. They made sure that they held onto the ball. When you get close to 600 yards [total offense] and score 45 points, I don't think they necessarily stopped you. But what they did in the end is blitz us like crazy, and they really tried to attack our blitz breaks. We made a lot of mistakes out there, and looking back at the film -- considering all the mistakes we made -- there were so many times we could have capitalized and taken control of the game. This game was a great learning experience for us because we got to see a little bit of our weaknesses and what they did a good job with. They had a great game plan, and those guys played their hearts out. I had a little kid tap me on the shoulder right before the game ended, before we even won the game, and he said, "Colt, this is the best football game I've ever seen since I've been here." It was kind of crazy man, it was just one of those games.

CS: Talk about your game on Saturday. You completed 43-of-61 passes for 548 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. Obviously when you're down, you have to throw the ball to try to get back into the game. What are your thoughts?

Brennan: You have to be smart and take what the defense gives you. We had some success early on in the game; Leon Jackson broke for a 47-yard run. They just really started to bring the pressure and clogged up the run lanes. Louisiana Tech has great athletes, that's what they've always had. They just tried to man up. It pretty much became a one-on-one battle, and I had to find the right one-on-one matchup on every play. Luckily I have four of the best receivers in the nation and if you watch the game film, they did some spectacular things. It was a lot of fun when we watched the game film. We were down on ourselves the whole game, because it was such a battle. But when you look back at the game film, you can see that we have a lot of potential. We just have to tighten up some screens, be a little smarter in situations, and we'll be all right.

CS: Talk about your numbers through two weeks. You've thrown 10 touchdown passes to one interception for 964 yards. I know you don't like to think about individual goals, but you're definitely in the Heisman race at this point.

Brennan: For us to be successful, my numbers have to be huge. That's just how this offense is. The only difference is if you can do it consistently every game against any type of defense. That's one thing I got a bad knock against last year. People said, "Oh, he puts up great numbers but he plays crappy teams." If you watch Purdue, Oregon State, Arizona State and Alabama, my numbers in those games weren't dropping off very far from what I was doing against WAC teams. I was playing tough defenses and still putting up good numbers. I think it's the system, but having success so early is why my numbers are so big.

CS: At this point, through two games, you and Louisville's Brian Brohm are neck and neck in the Heisman race. What are your thoughts on going head to head with Brohm for the Heisman?

Brennan: To be honest with you, I'm actually kind of excited to see Brian Brohm this year because of the injuries he had last year. I have total respect [for Brohm], because in these last two games he's proved what he can do.  But it's tough to see the production he had last year and the notoriety that came with it. I also learned last year that it also comes with wins. It's not all about the numbers, but it's about the wins. I realize if I had one or two extra wins [last year] my name may have been worth a little more, but because Louisville had so many wins last year, that's why his name is what it is. It's tough, because if you triple what he did [in production] last year, it's around where I was… [Laughs]. I understand he plays in the conference he plays in, and I understand I play in the conference I play in, so I've decided this year to really look at him in the spotlight with the pressure on him and see how he reacts. I want to see how good he really is.

Ronen Zilberman/AP

CS: You say for Hawaii to have success you have to put up big numbers. How much pressure does that put on you?

Brennan: A lot, man. That's what I'm realizing. I think it's going to be a good challenge. The best lesson that we learn out here [in Hawaii] is just stepping up and being a leader while having that pressure on you. There is a lot of pressure on me and I realize it every game. When it gets late in the game, every kid is coming up to me saying, "It's on you. It's on you." I realize that. It's on me, because this is how the offense runs. Thank God I have a great offensive line. My offensive line got a lot of heat from this last game, but if you know what our system is like, they played an outstanding game. They made some mistakes, but they played a great game. I have an O-Line that loves me and takes care of me. I have very talented receivers. I think it's just a mesh of something special.

CS: Talk about the last drive of the game. There was a little over a minute and a half left in the game and Daniel Kelly hit a 47-yard field goal to tie the game at 38 - 38. What were you guys feeling at that moment?

Brennan: We tried some things on that drive that we just didn't get right. I took a big sack on 2nd down and kind of pinned us back. We got ourselves into a bad field goal, but Dan Kelly had one field goal blocked and missed another one, and I knew that's not him -- he likes to make everything. I walked up to him before the kick and gave him a high five and told him you got this, don't worry. I just acted like it wasn't a big deal. He walked out there with some confidence and just boomed it right through, and it took us to overtime.

CS: Overtime in college football is a little scary, because anything can happen. What was that situation like?

Brennan: We knew overtime was going to be fine. Shoot, we only had to go 25 yards.  We knew we were going to get into that endzone. It took two plays, we scored really quickly, and we looked at the sidelines and said we'll be right back if you want to score again. When they scored, they opted to go for two [point conversion] and try to end the game. It came down to our defense, but just like us our defense made some mistakes and struggled. But they needed to step up big when it was big, and that's exactly what they did. They put the blitz on the QB, and he had to throw the ball where he had to throw it, and it was batted down. We won the game and that's what matters.

CS: On a scale of 1-10, ten being the highest, how confident is your offense?

Brennan: I'd say the receivers and I are a 10. Collectively, offensively, we're a nine, because we're still young at some positions. There is still room for improvement, but we're a very confident offense.

CS: I was reading an article about the game against Louisianna Tech that said the attendance was just over 22,000? Is that right?

Brennan: No, it was a lot bigger than that. I heard it was thirty-something thousand over the PA.

CS: What was the largest crowd you guys ever played to?

Brennan: We played Alabama last year in front of 93,000, and besides some first-half jitters, we came back in the second half and almost tied it up to take it into overtime. We were 15 yards away from scoring. On the last play, I was scrambling around and threw one up for the endzone and it got picked off with no time left.

CS: How do you think Hawaii would handle a big scene, for instance, a BCS Game?

Brennan: I think we can handle it with the right preparation and the right dedication, and if we're good enough. We haven't proven ourselves yet. We're not where we want to be offensively yet. We have the potential.

CS: What was this past week like with all the travel and getting adjusted to the mainland?

Brennan: We left last Wednesday for Houston. You lose all the hours, so you basically get in Thursday morning and all we did was sleep all day. We woke up Thursday night and practiced. After practice, we went back to the hotel and had dinner. After dinner we went to meetings until about 1:30 a.m., then went to bed. We got up around 9:30 a.m. on Friday and went to practice. We were in Texas all week [using the Texans facilities for practice]. After practice we got some lunch and got on a flight to Louisiana. We arrived in Louisiana and had our night before game meal there. We had all of our meetings there. We woke up the next morning, had our pregame meal and then left for the game.  It's nice this week to be in Houston and have nothing to do but to get ready for UNLV. Honestly, I can't expect for any football team to be as good with those types of conditions.

CS: What are your thoughts heading into this Saturday's game against UNLV?

Brennan: I think UNLV has surprised some people already. They got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I think they got all the butterflies out in their first game. They played a tremendous game against Wisconsin. They got us thinking we better prepare for a war. Coming out of our latest war, and feeling good after our victory knowing that if we didn't make a couple of mistakes we would have been in better shape gets us excited. UNLV presents a great atmosphere because there's a huge Hawaiian following out there. The last time they played [Hawaii], there were more Hawaii fans than UNLV fans. I don't know how it will be this year, but we just know we're going to have a strong supporting cast of fans. It's going to be a great game. I know their quarterback is pretty talented. I think there's the potential you could see another shootout.

CS: How does your offense matchup against UNLV's defense?

Brennan: Their linebacker [Beau Bell] is the real deal. The thing about us is that we have four receivers that are extremely talented and they all work together. We have two running backs that can break it at any moment for a touchdown because they're that fast. And we have an offensive line that is explosively strong and quick. We just need to do what we do. Anything bad that happened last game was on us, it wasn't them, it was on us. We just have to focus on ourselves. We see some things we can capitalize on and we see some things we have to watch out for. I'm just getting excited because it's football season, and this is what it's all about. It's a war on Saturday, and we're excited because there will be a ton of Hawaii fans there.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999.

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