After being overpowered by Boise State the past weekend, the Hawaii football team has adopted this rallying cry: Remember James Madison.
In the season opener, Virginia Tech lost to Boise State. Still teetering from that game, the Hokies lost to James Madison the following week.
Although the Warriors’ final three regular-season games are against opponents with losing records — San Jose State (1-8), New Mexico State (2-7) and Nevada-Las Vegas (1-8) — UH head coach Greg McMackin said, "these aren’t gimmes coming up."
He added: "Virginia Tech may have thought that, and they lost to James Madison after they lost to Boise State. We can’t afford to do that. We have a good season going, even though we had a bad, tough loss."
Even worse than being out-played in all phases by Boise State, McMackin said, the game was shown on national cable.
"That’s why the bowl game is so important," McMackin said, referring to the Warriors’ participation in the Dec. 24 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. "That’s the next time we’re going to be on national television. That’s why I feel so fortunate, and these players have worked so hard and beaten some good teams to get to a point of being in a bowl game. Now we’ve got to win the games up to the bowl game."
If the Warriors (7-3) win their remaining four games, they will equal the second-most victories in the program’s Division I history.
McMackin said he will show videos of the Boise State game to certain position groups. Some of the tactics might be used by upcoming opponents.
But with a bye this weekend, the focus will be to rest some key players. The Warriors practice today and tomorrow, then will resume workouts on Monday.
Quarterback Bryant Moniz, slotback Kealoha Pilares, right tackle Laupepa Letuli, defensive tackles Vaughn Meatoga and Kaniela Tuipulotu, linebacker Corey Paredes, cornerback Jeramy Bryant and kicker Scott Enos are among the Warriors recovering from ailments.
McMackin said he is hopeful rover Spencer Smith will be available against San Jose State on Nov. 20. Smith missed six games because of a fractured right forearm. He aggravated the forearm during the first defensive series against Boise State.
"It’s sore," Smith said. "I have to keep rehabbing it."
Pilares said he expects to be ready for San Jose State. Pilares suffered a strained left hamstring while warming up at halftime of the Oct. 30 game against Idaho.
He made the trip to Boise, and went to great measures to heal. The night before the game, he slept with an electrical-stimulation machine hooked to the back of his left leg. But during warm-ups Saturday, Pilares aggravated the hamstring while stretching. He did not play in the game.
McMackin said the Warriors will spend the first 45 minutes of practices today and tomorrow working on plays for the San Jose State game. After that, there will be scrimmages involving the redshirts, scouts and lower-depth-chart players.
In the past, there were two teams competing in the so-called Scout Bowl. But because of numerous injuries, McMackin said, the scrimmages will match the offensive and defensive units. A scoring system will be devised.
The revised format, to the disappointment of the starting players, means there will not be a draft. Quarterback David Graves and running back Sterling Jackson were projected to be the top choices.
"I’d have to take David Graves," offensive tackle Austin Hansen said, "because he plays both ways."
Graves was used as a safety for about a month this season.
Jackson, who was raised in Georgia, played for Mendocino College in California last year. He joined the Warriors as a walk-on in July.
"Did you see how big that man is?" defensive end Siaki Cravens said of the 230-pound Jackson. "He’s probably going to be our starting running back next year. He’s a downhill runner. He’s powerful. He’s fast. He has great acceleration. At that weight, he’s hard to tackle. We went against him in fall (training camp). We weren’t sure if he was going to redshirt or not. I’m 240 pounds, but running into him, I felt it. I think he’s going to run all over everybody. That’s my MVP right there."