POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 27, 2010
LAS CRUCES, N.M. » Soon after arriving in the parking lot of Aggie Memorial Stadium yesterday for a walk-through practice, the members of the Hawaii football team headed toward a gate in front of a ramp leading to the field.
Told that New Mexico State -- today's host -- was occupying that area, the Warriors went in the other direction, then walked down the stadium steps.
"That's called respect," UH associate head coach Rich Miano said.
It also was symbolic of the different paths of the Western Athletic Conference opponents.
Following Nevada's upset of Boise State last night, the Warriors can earn a share of the WAC's regular-season title with a road victory over the Aggies today. The Warriors also have clinched a berth in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The Aggies, who have lost 16 of their past 18 games dating to middle of the 2009 season, have not played in a bowl since 1960, Dwight Eisenhower's last year of presidency.
Both will start former Leilehua High quarterbacks. UH's Bryant Moniz, a fourth-year junior, leads the nation in total offense, averaging 362.73 yards per game. Last week, he set a UH single-game record with 560 passing yards. NMSU's Andrew Manley, a true freshman, has thrown for a total of 469 yards in three games and one series.
Still, UH head coach Greg McMackin has refused to look at the standings. Before the start of the walk-through, McMackin gathered the players, then implored them to focus only on the game.
"We're here for business," said McMackin, his raspy voice at full ferocity.
The UH coaches scheduled position meetings during the same time as the telecast of last night's Boise State-Nevada game, an outcome that impacted the Warriors' title chances.
"Our entire focus is on our game, not anyone else's," McMackin said.
At 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the WAC, the Warriors are assured their first winning season in McMackin's three years as UH head coach. They were 7-7 in 2008 and 6-7 last year.
With the regular-season finale against Nevada-Las Vegas next week and the bowl game against a Conference USA opponent, the Warriors have an opportunity to match the second-most victories in a UH season.
For that to happen, Moniz said, "We have to win our game against New Mexico (State)."
The Warriors have won all six meetings between the teams; the average margin has been 18 points.
Two Warriors have a chance to break school records today. Slotback Greg Salas needs 74 receiving yards to pass Jason Rivers' 3,919 career yards.
Scott Enos has converted 50 extra-point attempts in 2010, tied for the most in a row in a single season. He has not missed a PAT during his 24-game UH career.
"It's all about the snap and the hold," Enos said. "Those guys" -- he pointed to long-snapper Luke Ingram and holder Shane Austin -- "are like a machine."