Tuesday, November 24, 2015         


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Turnovers? Check. Rushing? Check. Does it matter? Nope

By Dave Reardon


BOISE, Idaho » If two days ago, Nostradamus pays a gambler a visit and guarantees Hawaii decisively wins the turnover battle and Alex Green exceeds the century mark on the ground against Boise State, one thing would be certain right now: an empty bank account for said gambler.

Minus three for the Broncos and Hawaii doesn't cough up the ball once? UH's running back goes for 107 rushing yards?

Stats like that make wise guys think sure thing — definitely enough for an underdog to cover a 21-point spread.

"You figure," UH linebacker Corey Paredes said after the Warriors' 45-7 loss yesterday at noisy Boise. "(Forcing turnovers) obviously correlated with our wins. We got turnovers today, we tried to get the ball in the offense's hands."

Green's yardage was a mirage. Most of the footwork came on a 54-yard fourth-quarter touchdown off a draw play — after the national championship contenders scored the first six TDs and had been in style-points mode since the middle of the third quarter.

Don't let the Broncos' minor deficiencies fool you; this was a tour de horse from any perspective that ended up mattering. Who cares if you throw two picks and fumble one away? Doesn't matter when your defense befuddles one of the nation's most productive offenses to the tune of one of eight first-half conversions on third and fourth downs — especially when your offense is seven of nine.

Kellen Moore looked like a left-handed Colt Brennan, 2006 edition. He calmly dispensed perfect passes, except for a couple that found their way into the hands of UH safety Mana Silva.

Hawaii hardly blitzed.

"We just wanted to play our coverages and get pressure with our front four," Silva said.

But it rarely worked, and Moore might as well have been throwing darts in a bar while editing the Broncos record book on seemingly every play. He had enough time in the pocket to text Heisman voters: "this 1 4 u."

MEANWHILE, UH quarterback Bryant Moniz rarely had time to do anything but duck. He was sacked seven times for minus-47 yards as BSU came at him from all angles, which the Warriors said they knew about. But the Broncos "mixed things up," Green said.

"They like to blitz a lot, but it was nothing we hadn't seen," said Green, who is Moniz's personal bodyguard when he's not getting the ball. "But sometimes the down and yards were not what we expected. We expected blitz on third down, but they came on first and second down."

The Broncos took away the heart of Hawaii's attack, the slots. With Kealoha Pilares out with a hamstring injury, Greg Salas got more attention from the BSU defenders.

"You definitely feel the absence. Things aren't the same (without Pilares)," wideout Rodney Bradley said.

Moniz said the crowd was a factor, too. "With the silent count, (the Boise defenders) got that extra beat on us. And even in the huddle, guys got the wrong calls."

AND, OF COURSE, a wrinkle. You knew there'd be at least one. Chris Petersen and his staff don't let a bye week go to waste.

Moore found the no-huddle offense to his liking.

"It just kind of presented itself," he said. "We had a few extra days to prepare for it."

Maybe Petersen's old boss, Dan Hawkins, shared how effective it was when his Colorado team beat the Warriors with it back in September.

"We've been dabbling and experimenting," Petersen said. "It was pretty clean. ... It's hard when you don't major in that."

For the Broncos, a core concentration of general studies seems to work just fine.

It's hard not to agree with Warriors coach Greg McMackin's final assessment of the Associated Press's No. 2 team in the nation.

"They're what they're advertised as."

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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