It turned out to be a good bye the past weekend for the Hawaii football team, which is tied for first among FBS schools in turnover margin.
By gaining 29 turnovers while ceding 15 in 10 games this season, the Warriors have a per-game average of plus-1.4. That is tied with Ohio State, which has gained 26 turnovers while losing 12.
"Our goal is to continue to get turnovers and put our offense on the field," said safety Mana Silva, who is tied for first nationally with seven interceptions.
The Warriors’ 16 interceptions are a remarkable accumulation after making none in the first three games. They made 12 interceptions in 13 games last year.
"When the coaches emphasize (forcing turnovers) more and more, and we work on defensive drills to make those type of plays, it puts us in better position to make turnovers," Silva said.
The offense has focused on reducing mistakes. In 2009, the Warriors were intercepted 17 times.
After reviewing videos of every offensive play, it was determined that 11 of those interceptions — 70.6 percent — were "avoidable," offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich said. "They were bad reads or balls that weren’t caught or were tipped and intercepted. We made a point of emphasis to cut down on those."
This season, the Warriors have been intercepted eight times. Of starting quarterback Bryant Moniz’s seven interceptions, two came on bad reads, Rolovich said.
"We went outside of the offense a little bit," Rolovich said.
Of backup Brent Rausch’s interception, Rolovich said, "if he had that over, he’d go somewhere else with the ball."
Rolovich said the quarterbacks and running backs were instructed to be mindful of holding onto the football. The Warriors lost 16 fumbles in 2009. This year, they have lost seven in 10 games.
At the beginning of the season, Rolovich said, "we told them we had a chance to be a special team. But we can’t give anybody extra chances. With our defense getting turnovers, now the offense and defense are bouncing confidence off of each other."
ROAD TO RECOVERY
Right slotback Kealoha Pilares, who missed the game against Boise State because of a strained left hamstring, worked out lightly during yesterday’s 1-hour practice.
"It’s not 100 percent," Pilares said. "I’ve been resting. The bye week really helped me out."
Pilares suffered the injury while warming up at halftime of the Oct. 30 game against Idaho. The following week, at Boise State, he aggravated the hamstring during pregame warmups.
"I know I popped it," Pilares said of the initial problem. "I know it was worse than what people thought it was. It was the first time I ever had that. I knew the Boise game would be hard for me to come back. It was a good thing I stayed out of it. It started the recovery process."
Pilares said he expects to play in Saturday’s game against San Jose State.
Last week’s bye enabled several ailing Warriors to try sleep therapy.
Linebacker Corey Paredes said he slept most of Veterans Day.
"I feel fresh," said Paredes, who no longer is bothered by a sprained left ankle. "My father always preached that sleep is the key. I feel much better. My ankle is healed up."
Moniz, who was suffering from several wear-and-tear injuries, said: "I hibernated the whole weekend. I think I grew about an inch. Isn’t that the theory about sleep helping you grow?"
Moniz said the Warriors, 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, set a goal of winning their three remaining regular-season games.
"Things are better than the six (victories) we had last year," Moniz said. "Coach (Greg McMackin) is emphasizing finishing off the season. That’s what we plan to do."