It was not easy being running back Alex Green.
Faced with a clutch situation in Hawaii’s 45-7 road football victory over Utah State this past Saturday, Green lost his grip.
"In the excitement," slotback Greg Salas said, smiling, "he forgot the plan."
Earlier that week, right slotback Kealoha Pilares had suggested that after every UH touchdown, the players shake hands. It would emulate the subdued celebration initiated by Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys.
After rushing for a touchdown in the first quarter, Green recalled, "I was doing the old-school chest bump. I forgot the new style was the handshake thing."
After scoring on a 17-yard run in the second quarter, Green forgot again.
"I messed up," he said.
He also was caught up in the excitement after dashing 36 yards for a score in the third quarter.
"A.G. was getting too hyped up when he scored his touchdowns," Salas said. "He kept forgetting to do it. He put the ball down to do his thing. He was already on the sideline by the time we tried to shake his hand."
Fortunately, Green found the end zone for a fourth time — the most single-game rushing TDs by a UH player since 1995 — to perfect the gesture.
Give Green a hand.
"Big-time playing by Alex Green," UH head coach Greg McMackin said. "He’s just an outstanding running back."
Indeed, it was a breakthrough performance for Green, who conquered the chill and hard rain to rush for 172 yards, the most by a Warrior in 17 years.
Yesterday, Green was named the Western Athletic Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week. UH linebacker Corey Paredes, who made 10 tackles and the first two interceptions of his collegiate career, was named the WAC’s top defensive player for the week.
"It was a team effort," Green said. "It was nice to get (the award), but it feels better to get the win."
Green said he was inspired playing in front of his mother, Phyllis Smith, who made the trip from Portland, Ore. In the two games Smith has attended this season, Green has combined for 268 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.
"She’s my good-luck charm," Green said.
It was Smith who first encouraged Green to play football, at age 7.
"She told me if I loved football, to take it as far as I could," Green said.
She attended all of his games through high school, although "she closed her eyes when I got tackled," Green said.
She gave her blessing, finally, when Green repeatedly asked to grow out his hair. He went through curls, braids and, now, dreadlocks with bleached tips.
"She always tells me to stay humble, don’t get caught up in it," Green said. "She said it can be taken away at any moment."
That advice has spurred Green, who patiently waits for running plays to be called in an otherwise passing offense.
It also is why he bit his mouthpiece and gutted it out when his rain-soaked shoes left his feet numb against Utah State.
"Sometimes I couldn’t feel my toes or my fingers," he said. "But I couldn’t not play. … I didn’t need the hand-warmers. I try to play football."
Oh, and there was a reason he might have forgotten the new celebration.
"When I scored, I pointed to my mother, in recognition," Green said.