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Monday, September 22, 2014         

WARRIOR FOOTBALL


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Warriors' win boosts team confidence

By Stephen Tsai

POSTED:


There was one thing that kept Hawaii defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu from racing home Saturday night to watch the pay-per-view replay of the Warriors' 27-21 upset of Nevada.

"I don't have cable," Tuipulotu said. "I'm just a college student."

Instead, he will wait until today's defensive meetings to watch the video of the game.

"It's better to watch it with teammates," he said.

Tuipulotu exemplifies a football team that remains grounded while seeking respect. Even after defeating Nevada, which entered 6-0 and ranked 19th, and even after earning the 29th-most points in yesterday's Associated Press poll, the Warriors still want to be categorized in the underdog breed.

"You can tell (Nevada) underestimated us," Tuipulotu said. "That's what happens when you don't take your opponent seriously. We respect everyone because we know to everyone else — other teams, the WAC — they think we suck. We don't take anyone lightly. Every game, for us, is like the USC game."

Cornerback Jeramy Bryant said the Nevada game, during which the Warriors contained quarterback Colin Kaepernick and running back Vai Taua, was a "confidence booster."

"It was good to know we could play with teams like that, and not only play with them, but beat them," Bryant said. "It took a few games to show the nation we could be pretty good."

Tuipulotu said the Warriors felt "we had something special" back in spring training in April. In February, Nick Rolovich and Dave Aranda were promoted to offensive and defensive coordinators.

"We worked really hard in the spring," safety Mana Silva said.

Back then, Bryant said, the coaches would show videos of their practices, emphasizing how the schemes would be productive.

"From the spring, we knew we had a special team," Bryant said. "We worked hard, and the coaches kept preaching how we could be good."

Defensively, Aranda said the Warriors' multiple schemes would produce turnovers. But in the first three games, the Warriors had no interceptions.

On Saturday, the Warriors intercepted Kaepernick twice, giving them 10 picks in the past four games.

"Sure enough," Bryant said, "the turnovers started to come. We believed we could do those type of turnovers. We believe in ourselves."

Silva said the goal is to win the WAC title and qualify for a bowl game. The Warriors are atop the WAC with a 3-0 record. At 5-2, they need to win two of their remaining six regular-season games for a winning record and the accompanying berth in the Hawaii Bowl.

"We have to continue to improve overall, and hopefully things will fall into place," Silva said.






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