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Warriors aim to sweep last 3 games, starting with Spartans

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The football series between San Jose State and Hawaii is tied at 16-16-1.

But tonight’s matchup will have get-even undertones in the aftermath of the Warriors’ plans to leave the Western Athletic Conference — and the Spartans — in July 2012 and join the Mountain West Conference. When the secession is complete, SJSU and Idaho will be the only WAC schools in the Pacific time zone.

For now, the Warriors — 7-2 overall, 5-1 in the WAC, and recipients of a Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl berth — are focusing on finishing off the three remaining regular-season games.

"We take one team at a time," UH coach Greg McMackin said. "We try to do what we do. It’s a different team, and a different-colored jersey, but we do what we do. We get ready the way we get ready."

The Warriors used the past week’s bye to heal injuries, evaluate prospects and craft a strategy against the Spartans.

"Everybody is looking to improve," UH left slotback Greg Salas said. "All of these teams are hungry, and definitely want to take us down, trying to ruin our season a little more. We’re trying to take it one game at a time, and try to go undefeated the rest of the season."

UH quarterback Bryant Moniz said: "They’re just another 11 guys across the field we have to prepare for."

Under first-year head coach Mike McIntyre, the Spartans are playing the 32nd most difficult schedule (out of 245 Division I teams), according to the Sagarin rankings. Five of their opponents are ranked in the Associated Press’ Top 25, which explains the Spartans’ records of 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the WAC.

"Our goal is to finish as strong as we can, and to keep fighting this week," freshman linebacker Vince Buhagiar said.

McIntyre was an assistant under Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Parcells, with the Dallas Cowboys. He has followed the Parcells method of building with athletic players, meaning quarterbacks, running backs and defensive ends.

Each week, the Spartans are given a theme. A few weeks ago, it was: draw a line in the sand.

"And we crossed it," Buhagiar said. "This week, it’s: ‘Don’t forget the shovel.’ … It means don’t give up. Keep fighting to the end. Keep digging. That’s what (McIntyre) keeps saying."

There are 18 freshmen in the playing rotation, including 10 who were in high school six months ago.

Similar to UH, San Jose State created a "bridge" session during the summer. Incoming freshmen and junior college transfers were allowed to take two three-credit classes during a six-week period.

"We were acquainted with how college was going to be," said linebacker Keith Smith, a true freshman. "It was a little bit of a head start. It really helped us a lot. Not to mention we got to work out with some of the seniors. We all got closer."

McIntyre also conducts practices in the morning, giving the players the rest of the day to attend classes, study and train. The Spartans travel by charter flights for road games.

Although the Spartans are building for the future, Smith said, "That really doesn’t matter. What’s now is now. We keep that on the back burner, and focus on now. We want to be that good team now and not wait until later."

 

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