LAS VEGAS » In the football mentorship of Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz, an important move was to let go.
During the season-opening loss to Southern California, offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich often would offer things-to-watch tips to Moniz before plays. They were the same in-game suggestions that Rolovich used to receive when he was the Warriors’ starting quarterback in 2001.
But in preparing for this past Saturday’s game against Army, Moniz made a declaration of independence.
Moniz said the pre-snap advice "made me over-think maybe a little bit, and predetermine where I was going to go with the ball."
Rolovich said: "Maybe I tried to do too much during the USC game. (The advice) pushes him to predetermine what he’s looking at. We talked, and he said, ‘I feel good about everything. Maybe don’t start my mind. Let my mind work.’"
Rolovich agreed, noting that Moniz is comfortable enough with the offense to adjust to whatever call is made.
"Since I’ve been back," said Rolovich, who returned to UH in January 2008, "we haven’t had (a quarterback) who is at the place where Bryant is. … I guess I was so used to being overly cautious, making sure what (the quarterbacks) need to do, I probably should have known he was at that level (of understanding). This is fine with me. I’ll just call the plays."
Against Army, Moniz said, "there were fewer pointers. He let me read (the defense)."
The result was a breakout performance for Moniz, who yesterday was named the Western Athletic Conference’s offensive player of the week.
In a 31-28 victory over Army, Moniz was 25-for-36 for 343 yards and three touchdowns. While Moniz converted 69.4 percent of his passes, upon review, the coaches felt that up to seven more plays should have been completions.
"He should have been at 94 percent," Rolovich said. "There are some that should have been caught. There are some that should have been better throws. Only two or three should have been incomplete, and three is stretching it. You can’t ask for a perfect day, but this was his best game as a Warrior. He made a lot of perfect throws."
Perhaps the best was the last — a 31-yarder to right wideout Royce Pollard, setting up Scott Enos’ winning field goal.
"They were full-out blitzing Mo on that last play," UH head coach Greg McMackin said, "and he made the play. He knows the offense. He’s getting better and better."
Moniz started eight games last season. But it was during this summer’s training camp that he realized the offense had found its groove.
"Everything felt really good," said Moniz, a fourth-year junior from Leilehua High.
According to teammates, Moniz has as much control of the huddle as he does of his passes.
"With his demeanor, it gives everyone a little more confidence," center Bronson Tiwanak said. "He keeps you relaxed and focused on your job. He doesn’t get you worried."
And now Moniz has Rolovich’s full trust.
"There’s not a lot of teaching anymore," Rolovich said. "He gets it."
Of allowing Moniz space to make on-field decisions, Rolovich said: "It’s like taking off the training wheels. This was a big step for him, and for me, and for us as a group. I’ll call the play. But he knows what to do, and how to run it. And he can execute."
Still, for Moniz, the winner’s circle is a family circle.
"The WAC award is a team award," Moniz said. "If Royce doesn’t make that catch, I don’t know if we even win that game. The O-line gave me time. The other receivers helped out. This award is for them."