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Further Review | Sports

After a week of bolt and Colt, defensive line gives UH a jolt

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With all the craziness of the past few days, it would have been easy to forget there was somewhere to be last night.

Basketball game? Too late, that was Friday.

Movies? No, nothing good’s playing.

Uncle Jimmy’s birthday party? That was last week.

Wait, I know there was something …

Yes, that’s it, football … University of Hawaii football.

Whether you realized it or not, the season didn’t end just because the Warriors lost at Boise State two weeks ago. There was a game at Aloha Stadium last night, against San Jose State.

Normally a football game is an emotional roller coaster — not a break from one. But that’s what the 41-7 shellacking of the Spartans had to feel like for UH fans.

Thursday you learn your team’s headed for greener pastures, finally off to the Mountain West. But before you can even really celebrate that, on Friday you’re hit with the shocker of the program’s greatest player, Colt Brennan, getting seriously hurt along with two other people in a bad car wreck.

There’s a game? What game?

WELL, THE Warriors didn’t forget about it. They showed up big-time, especially the defensive line. The UH front has played well all season, making things easier for the rest of the defense. But last night the front four’s efforts were finally rewarded with a truckload of big plays.

There was Paipai Falemalu, leading the eight-sack parade with three. Elliot Purcell and Kamalu Umu got two apiece.

"It was pretty much Coach, calling the plays," said Umu, deflecting praise like the eight passes the Warriors broke up. "They were giving away the slide protection every time."

You see what defensive coordinator Dave Aranda put together with an extra week to spot weaknesses, and you wonder how much difference it might have made if the bye was before the Boise State game instead of after it. Then you remember there probably aren’t any weaknesses to find in the Broncos.

But San Jose State …

"Coach Aranda emphasized getting our blitz mentality back," Falemalu said.

On Aaron Brown’s second pick, UH rushed just three linemen. Spartans quarterback Jordan La Secla had his choice of open Warriors, and in the first half Brown caught as many passes as all but one San Jose State player.

If there was ever any doubt, this was over early in the third quarter when tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu swatted down a pass at the line of scrimmage on fourth and 1 around midfield. Why San Jose State was passing on fourth and 1, I don’t know.

UH QUARTERBACK Bryant Moniz got off to a slow start, but found enough rhythm to break Brennan’s single-game passing record by 1 yard as the 2007 Heisman finalist recovered at Queen’s.

In a little more than three quarters, Moniz completed 32 of 44 passes. This was a shovel-ready project, with running back Alex Green doing serious damage.

Moniz found plenty of wide-open receivers. The only thing he couldn’t find was Brennan’s old No. 15 jersey before the game.

"I wanted to wear it to show he means a lot to us," Moniz said. "We’re praying for the best for him."

As is the entire state.

This situation wasn’t quite as bizarre as December 1941, when the San Jose State game was canceled and the stranded Spartans helped gird the island from possible invasion after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Still, the Warriors were in the eye of a hurricane last night, and they created a storm of their own — especially the defensive line.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.

 

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