POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 23, 2010
LOGAN, Utah » Three months later, the paper cut has not healed.
It was in Salt Lake City -- about 90 miles from the site of today's game between Hawaii and Utah State -- that a preseason poll was released in which reporters picked the Warriors to finish in the bottom third of the nine-team Western Athletic Conference.
Even now, with the 3-0 Warriors atop the WAC standings, the scar remains.
"Nobody likes to be called ... crappy, excuse my language," UH slotback Greg Salas said. "Nobody likes to be put down like that, especially this team. We have an attitude. If somebody says we can't do something, we're going to try to prove them wrong."
After consecutive upsets of Fresno State and Nevada, the Warriors have heard talk that this could be a "trap game." The Aggies are 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the WAC.
"We're not going into a 'trap' game, because we did that two years ago," UH coach Greg McMackin said.
In the last meeting between the teams in Logan, Utah, the Warriors, who entered as favorites, squandered several red-zone opportunities en route to a 30-14 loss.
This time, oddsmakers have installed UH as 3 1/2 -point favorites.
But the Warriors have changed their preparation. For the 2008 game, the Warriors arrived in Utah the day before the game. This time, they arrived early Thursday. They had a full 2-hour practice on Weber State's campus Thursday afternoon, and a 1-hour walk-through of Romney Stadium yesterday in Logan.
McMackin said he was so annoyed about the 2008 loss he cracked a back tooth during the game.
"It was a bad experience then, but it's good for this year because, believe me, I have never forgotten it," McMackin said.
In meetings this week, McMackin has stressed how the Aggies are better than their record. The Aggies narrowly lost in the opener to Oklahoma, ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings.
The UH coaches believe Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel is a bigger threat than Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.
"We haven't stopped him in two years," UH defensive coordinator Dave Aranda said. "He's had his way with us."
UH defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga said: "We respect them. We respect everyone we play. But we want a little respect, too. We're going to keep playing until we get that respect. And even when we get it, we'll keep playing hard."
Before yesterday's walk-through, McMackin summoned each member of the team, including trainers and managers. He then told them the importance of not letting this opportunity slip away.
"No," Salas said. "They're picked ahead of us in the WAC by the coaches and media. It's definitely not a trap game for us. We have a chip on our shoulder. We're still trying to prove things."