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Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

FERD'S WORDS


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Warriors harass and handle yet another quarterback

By Ferd Lewis

POSTED:



LOGAN, Utah » It wouldn't be entirely correct to suggest that the University of Hawaii defense was so incensed by what Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick said last week that it took it out on Utah State's Diondre Borel yesterday.

Because the reality is while the comments might have helped fuel the ferocity, the Warriors' defense has become an equal opportunity tormentor of opposing quarterbacks of its own accord lately.

And, well, this just happened to be Borel's turn on the schedule in a 45-7 pasting on the Aggies' homecoming.

On an afternoon when a torrential downpour slowed the UH offense for a time, the Warriors' no-prisoner defense showed the way to a fifth consecutive victory. The defense set the tone — and stayed at it — for a 6-2 start that kept Hawaii atop the Western Athletic Conference standings at 4-0, one game away from clinching a berth in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl and setting up a potential winner-take-all showdown with defending champion Boise State.

All in all it was as dominating a defensive performance as the Warriors have put up in Greg McMackin's five years (three as head coach and two as a defensive coordinator) at UH.

They limited the Aggies to 181 yards total offense, the fewest surrendered by UH since a 24-0 blitz of Idaho in 2005.

In the process, UH restricted Borel to 99 yards passing and minus-1 yard rushing. By way of comparison, Borel passed for 344 yards and three touchdowns against UH last year and beat them with his feet here with 87 yards in 2008.

"We took away their weapons," said defensive lineman Kaniela Tuipulotu in what has increasingly become their trademark.

By the fourth quarter Borel was thoroughly flustered and largely ineffective, having completed just seven of 23 passes, and was picked off twice by linebacker Corey Paredes. A half-dozen other passes were batted down as the Warriors stuffed the running game and suffocated the quick slant passing patterns to befuddle the Aggies offense inside and out.

After UH shut down Kaepernick, Nevada's once-upon-a-time Heisman Trophy candidate said last week, "There was nothing Hawaii did tonight to stop us. Just lack of execution (on our part), we didn't play like ourselves."

That didn't go over well with the Warriors, who felt their 27-21 stifling of Kaepernick (30 yards rushing and 159 yards passing) warranted at least begrudging respect.

"We felt like we did it, not them," Tuipulotu said. "Maybe some people don't want to give us credit where credit is due. But we played hard tonight. Our coaches schemed them, and we came out swinging."

Want to know how confident the Warriors were? Even as their offense misfired briefly leading 14-7, associate head coach Rich Miano noted, "Hey, if we don't give up a score, they (the Aggies) can't win."

And, of course, they didn't.

That has increasingly become a calling card of these Warriors ever since the Colorado collapse as they have taken down Charleston Southern, Fresno State, Louisiana Tech and, yes, Colin, Nevada with increasing domination.

Coincidence? Hardly. The evidence is mounting and the modus operandi too familiar now.

Said Paredes: "Hopefully, people will start to give our defense a little more credit."

If not, somebody is going to pay the consequences. That's if they aren't already.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@staradvertiser.com.






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