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Salas showed Bulldogs what Warriors are made of

By Dave Reardon

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:10 p.m. HST, Oct 11, 2010



It was the dunk to hit 100 points when the other guys have 63. The tape-measure grand slam to force the mercy rule. The roundhouse hook for the KO when you're way ahead on every judge's scorecard in the final round.

The exclamation mark.

That was Jeramy Bryant's pick six, the fourth-quarter interception and touchdown return giving Hawaii its final points in a 49-27 rout of Fresno State on Saturday. A great play in a game full of them for UH, and Bryant's fourth interception in the last three games, elevating him to among the nation's leaders. Mana Silva's INT earlier in the fourth quarter was a big one, too.

But you know when just about everyone figured out this one was really over. Back in the third quarter, when Greg Salas turned in a play that serves as a microcosm of how the Warriors owned the Bulldogs, who were double-digit favorites at home — where they hardly ever lose ... except to UH.

It wasn't one of Salas' two touchdown catches. Nor was it his third TD, when he alertly recovered Royce Pollard's fumble in the end zone (evidence that things that go around really do come around, if you remember Salas losing a TD this way last season).

Those were all obviously important pieces of Hawaii's masterful proclamation of, "Yes, in your house. Three times in a row now in your house."

But the most telling symbol of UH's dominance came on a play that looked routine on paper, a 28-yard pass from Bryant Moniz to Salas in a season full of such plays.

However, it was anything but typical.

I mean, you never see a slotback knock a defensive back so hard that the DB gets up really fast and starts shaking his head (the universal sign for, "You knocked the crap out of me, but I want you to think you didn't").

It's supposed to be the other way around, right?

When Salas T-boned Jermaine Thomas at full speed — while running with the ball, no less — it showed the Warriors are capable of doing what they've done other seasons when the run-and-shoot was at its best. Plays like that explode the myth of it being just a finesse offense.

If things go well the rest of the season, it will be looked upon as the Warriors' defining play of 2010.

FOR NOW, though, it's time to turn away from repeated YouTube viewings of the Salas katoosh (can't get enough of it) and to cue up some classic Rodney Dangerfield (you know, the "no respect" guy).

Hawaii is 4-2, and has won three games in a row by an average of 34 points. It hosts an opponent Saturday to whom it has never lost at Aloha Stadium.

Yet, for the fifth time in seven games this season, UH is the underdog. This week's opponent is No. 19 Nevada.

The Warriors fell 31-21 to the Wolf Pack in Reno, Nev., last year, but that is where some say the bleeding finally stopped and UH gained the confidence to turn things around despite losing their fifth game in a row.

Coach Greg McMackin isn't in awe of Nevada and its pistol offense that's so stylish The New York Times published a feature on it.

"We don't have to do anything superhuman. We played them close last year," McMackin told KFVE's Shawn Ching after Saturday's game.

After out-Fresnoing Fresno, which had a reputation for playing smashmouth football and fearing none, UH will brim with confidence now. It wasn't just Salas and the offense; the Warriors' defensive front got consistent pressure on normally unflappable quarterback Ryan Colburn, without much blitzing, harassing him into three interceptions and general ineffectiveness.

This will be a different kind of challenge, though, stopping or slowing Nevada's uniquely skilled Colin Kaepernick.

The good news for the Warriors is they've contained him well enough to beat the Wolf Pack two of the past three seasons. It's in their muscle memory.

And as it showed in Fresno, this Hawaii team has quite a bit of that to flex.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.






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