SUMMERLIN, Nevada » Mana Silva’s been around long enough to know he must steer clear of the casino sportsbook. That’s a big no-no for college football players and coaches.
The senior safety and the rest of the University of Hawaii football team checked in here at the Suncoast hotel and casino near Las Vegas yesterday. But their preparations for Saturday’s game at Colorado definitely do not include visits to the part of the gaming area where wagers on college football are accepted. In fact, after yesterday (the team’s day off), no gambling even for the guys who are of legal age. Just like last year, when the Warriors bivouacked here before their game with UNLV.
I’m under no such restrictions, though, so I went to check on the line – and found there wouldn’t be one available here, until today … and I’m writing this yesterday. So, although I’m in a casino hotel in Nevada, my source for such information was Nick Abramo, sitting at his desk in the Star-Advertiser sports department.
Nick tells me the Glantz-Culver line for the Hawaii at Colorado game opened with the Warriors as 131/2-point underdogs. But it didn’t take long for it to go down to 10. "Some high-rollers must have seen that 13 and liked it," Nick said.
Ten is still a lot of points for a team that just won to get from one that just got clobbered 52-7.
When I relayed this to Silva, he shook his head – but he smiled, too.
"Sheesh," he said. "But you know what? That’s good. That’s more motivation for us."
The Warriors will be underdogs for the third time in three games this season. They covered against USC and won outright at Army.
You can bet (unless you’re a college football player or coach, that is) that behind closed doors, Hawaii coach Greg McMackin will use that point spread as a point of emphasis to fire up his team.
But he’s not going to say anything for the record to turn that respect issue on its head.
"If I’m Colorado, I’d be really upset and embarrassed (after the lopsided loss to Cal) and try to play my best ball," McMackin said. "They have some good players and they’re playing at home.
"You know, point spreads have always interested me, but I haven’t figured out how they come up with them."
If you ever do, Coach, please let me know.
MCMACKIN SAID spending the next few days in Colorado would actually be debilitating to the team because it wouldn’t be enough time to acclimate to the altitude. "A week actually makes it worse," he said.
This team proved itself to be well-conditioned when the defense didn’t completely fold when Army’s ground game took control of the second half Saturday – in the fourth quarter, UH gave up yards, but not points. The Warriors rotate a lot of players in on defense, and that helps, too.
On Saturday, although Army dominated time of possession – especially in the second half, when it had the ball an incredible 24 minutes, 45 seconds – the Warriors defense didn’t play like it was gassed. Some will say 250 yards rushing is too many to allow in a game; I say there’s nothing wrong with it, when you also yield just 58 passing and you win the game.
SOMETIMES THE best way to get a monkey off your back is to forget or not even realize it’s there.
UH won a game in the Eastern Time Zone for the first time in the program’s history on Saturday. Hawaii was previously 0-3 when five time zones ahead of Manoa, falling at Tennessee (34-2 in 1972), Rutgers (7-3 in 1975) and Florida (56-10 in 2008).
But no one was talking about history last week, except for a few old guys. And no one dwelled on playing on the road, being so far from home.
"Playing on the road is tough in itself," Silva said. "But a long trip like this has some benefits. It’s like another camp, where we’re really focused on football and can spend more time looking at film."
And for the Warriors this week, more time with game film means less time thinking about what’s downstairs in the casino.