Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Saturday, July 20, 2024 84° Today's Paper

Further ReviewSports

Tonight’s the night we finally see a game

We made it.

It’s finally time to watch college football … not stuff about college football.

Today, realignment means moving the lanai furniture around for the game-day party.

Or, those of us at the stadium get to listen to Ross Smith announce "first and 10," on the P.A., instead of Karl Benson bemoaning "three gone, six left" in another sad teleconference.

Rather than university presidents stabbing each other in the back, we can revel in the cleverness of coaches outsmarting their counterparts.

We get to take a break from figuring out how athletic directors will tackle scheduling challenges, and enjoy linebackers sticking ballcarriers.

I think we can all agree: Football’s a lot more fun to follow when there’s actually a game to watch.

Now, some say this one — Hawaii’s season opener, hosting USC at Aloha Stadium — won’t be a game for long. Even a lot of people who call themselves UH fans see the Trojans trampling the Warriors from the outset.

Yes, USC is favored by 21 points, despite an offseason from hell.

Yes, UH does have a chance to win — only if it avoids sacks, fumbles and interceptions.

But with the Trojans strongest unit, its defensive line, matching up with UH’s most questionable, its offensive line, it may be too much to ask for Bryant Moniz to be left alone long enough to find his fine receivers.

I see the Warriors defense keeping them in this game for most of the first half, but eventually a turnover will give USC the momentum and a two-touchdown win. The Trojans will remain unbeaten against Hawaii, for now — UH will have a legit chance for revenge in a future season when those forfeited USC scholarships begin to kick in.

But just because the Warriors lose tonight, don’t make plans with the in-laws for Christmas Eve, unless they’re at Aloha Stadium … you and your team are going bowling.

Last year I predicted UH would fail to make it to the Hawaii Bowl because it didn’t have enough depth to withstand inevitable injuries. That’s how it played out, as the list of wounded Warriors grew each week, and with it the number in the L column.

Now, we’re looking at a much deeper squad at most positions. Boise State has the most returning starters in the WAC, but Hawaii has the most returning lettermen (60) and that means something, too.

Trying to guess how this team will end up is like eating Jell-O with chopsticks, you think you’ve got a handle on it and the theory slips away. A guy who doesn’t usually like the Warriors tells me 9-4 and a fairly recent Manoa grad I’d call a UH fan says 3-10. After spring practice concluded, I was leaning more toward the latter.

But I like what I saw overall in fall camp … and you’re gonna love some of these new guys. Several will contribute winning efforts this season, especially on special teams.

I’m going with 7-6. Wins: Army, Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech, Idaho, San Jose State, New Mexico State, UNLV. Losses: USC, Colorado, Fresno State, Nevada, Utah State, Boise State.

And a better season in 2011, when Vaughn Meatoga and Bryant Moniz are seniors.

Meatoga doesn’t want to wait.

"We feel we’re ready," the defensive tackle said. "We feel like this is our year."

Moniz says he’s good to go, too — starting tonight, not next week, not next year.

Quarterbacks coach and new offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich was in his place 10 years ago.

"He played in the offense and knows how it works," Moniz says. "The other day I asked him how he’d approach a big game. He said to just absorb everything that happens, pretty much enjoy it. It only last for a little while.

"Pressure is the last thing on my mind. That’s why we have the connection we do. We like to have fun and enjoy the opportunities."

And isn’t it great the rest of us can now finally share in that philosophy? Tonight we can watch a game and forget about all that junk around it.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.


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