POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jul 29, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 11:00 a.m. HST, Jul 29, 2011
We've been down this road before. Twice actually, in 2003 and 2007.
The media covering Western Athletic Conference football have predicted that Hawaii will win the league championship. So it's up to you to decide what to do with this bit of information.
Do you do what the coaches insist they do, and discard it as meaningless drivel? Or, do you give it some credence? (By the way, the coaches also picked the Warriors to win the WAC.) Maybe a look at what happened the other two years when the Warriors were considered the top team headed in will help put things in perspective.
All three times UH had or has a quarterback up for Heisman Trophy consideration: Timmy Chang, Colt Brennan and now, Bryant Moniz.
You probably remember what happened in '07; Hawaii won all 12 regular-season games and Brennan was third in the voting for college football's most prestigious individual award.
In 2003, UH lost two of its first three games, and that was it for Timmy Mania — other than a stray holdout or two, including Norman Chad, who is more recognized for cracking wise as a poker analyst than knowing anything about college football.
If Moniz is to build Heisman momentum, he'll need to start early with strong performances against Colorado and at Washington. Win those games, preferably with some big passing numbers, and the name of the former walk-on from Wahiawa enters the conversation. And when it comes to the Heisman, conversation is critical. Half the battle is being on the short, medium, or long list of hopefuls that get thrown around by various pundits. Guys from midmajors playing midmajor schedules need to get noticed early. If UH loses in September, like Chang's team did at USC and UNLV in '03, there won't be any need for the Warriors to worry about sending their quarterback to New York City in December.
While many agree that the 2006 Warriors were even better, the '07 edition was also one of college football's greatest offensive juggernauts, at least statistically. And that team certainly had something special about it emotionally, pulling out last-gasp wins at Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Nevada, and at home against Washington. Lose any one, and bye-bye BCS game.
The 2007 team achieved what it did despite losing the three most critical starters from the offensive line of the previous year: center Samson Satele and tackles Tala Esera and Dane Uperesa. So could this whole thing about inexperience on the offensive line be overstated? Maybe ... but to start the season Moniz has just one starter back besides himself on the entire offensive unit — wideout Royce Pollard. Brennan and Tyler Graunke had three of the best receivers in the program's history to work with in Davone Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullen and Jason Rivers.
That 2003 group had Chang throwing to Chad Owens, Jeremiah Cockheran and a young Rivers ... but like the '11 Warriors, they were overall more experienced and talented on defense, with Isaac Sopoaga and Lance Samuseva at the tackles, WAC player of the year Travis LaBoy at end and Hyrum Peters (a lot like Richard Torres) at safety. The offensive line was young, and required some early-season shuffling.
How did they fare in the WAC after the slow nonconference start? They weren't bad at all ... they just weren't deep enough to withstand some injuries, especially to the receivers. That cost them dearly in a loss at Tulsa (which was then in the WAC). They were 5-1 heading into the conference stretch run, including a game at Nevada and then playing host to Boise State. Nevada was a team in turmoil at that point, but with an assist from some terrible weather the Pack still held off the Warriors. Home wins the following two weeks against Army and Alabama didn't give UH enough momentum to deal with Boise State, which was 7-0 going in and would have won the conference even if it lost to Hawaii.
That loss at icy Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nev., killed UH's hopes, which had been wounded at Tulsa. You have to figure a team with enough firepower to beat Alabama would give a better showing against Boise State the next week (a 45-28 loss) if it had a share of the conference title for which to play. Hawaii finished 2003 with a 9-5 record after beating Houston in triple overtime in the Hawaii Bowl. It was a talented and exciting team, but it did not win the conference championship we bozos with the notebooks and microphones had predicted.
So Hawaii is 1-1 when the media pick it to win the WAC. It comes down to this. Will the 2011 Warriors be more like their older brothers of 2003 or 2007? Could be either; there are similarities to both.
Reach Dave Reardon at firstname.lastname@example.org.