POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 25, 2010
Hold a mirror to Hawaii's 2009 and 2010 football seasons, and the reflections — and fortunes — are reversed.
Following a 45-7 rout of Utah State, the Warriors are 6-2 overall and 4-0 in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the first eight games in 2009, the Warriors were 2-6 and 0-5 in the WAC.
This season, the Warriors are 3-1 on the road. During the same span in 2009, they were 1-4 in away games.
Greg McMackin said the improvement can be traced partly to the maturation of the players and partly to Nick Rolovich and Dave Aranda being promoted to offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively.
While McMackin still leads coaches' meetings and is involved in crafting game plans, Rolovich and Aranda have been given play-calling autonomy.
"I give complete credit to Rolo and Dave and our other coaches," McMackin said. "It's the job of the coaches to get the players in position to make plays, and our players are making plays."
The Warriors are averaging 491.38 yards per game and 7.53 yards per play. During the first eight games last season, their averages were 432.75 yards and 6.64 yards.
The Warriors have the top-ranked passing attack, averaging 400.75 yards per game and 14.12 yards per completion, up from 352.0 and 13.10 during the same period a year ago.
The defense also has played well, ranking 37th nationally. The Warriors are allowing 337.13 yards per game and 4.88 yards per play, a significant improvement from averages of 422.75 and 5.98 for the first eight games of 2009.
"When you have good people, you want to use them," said McMackin, acknowledging he has learned to delegate after trying to be involved in every aspect during his first two seasons as UH head coach. "I learned I can do head coaching things, and let guys I really trust to run the offense and defense. My job is to do whatever I can to help them do their jobs better. I believe in them."
McMackin said the improvement is found in the renewed enthusiasm across the state.
"We've tried to give the people of Hawaii something to be proud of," McMackin said. "When Mufi (Hannemann) was mayor, he told me that every time we win, the negative calls are cut down. Nobody is complaining about potholes. That's something we talked about as a team: Putting a smile on the faces of our fans. We want to give them something positive in these tough times."
McMackin said David Graves, who scored a touchdown on a fumbled punt attempt against Utah State, will be given a chance to compete for the starting quarterback's job after Bryant Moniz completes his UH eligibility in December 2011.
Graves, a second-year freshman who was recruited as a quarterback, plays on three special-teams units. He also is listed as a safety. Receivers coach Mouse Davis wants Graves to move to slotback.
"Mouse thinks he has the best pair of hands of the young guys," McMackin said. "Defensive guys want him as the safety. He's a very good athlete."
But McMackin said he will live up to his promise of allowing Graves to eventually compete for the quarterback's job.
"Right now, we appreciate his great attitude," McMackin said. "He's willing to help the team. He's very unselfish."