FRESNO, Calif. » For most of Saturday’s game, the University of Hawaii football team was a victim of repeated prank calls.
Before the snap, quarterback Ikaika Woolsey would yell out the start of the count. Fresno State defenders would synchronize their move calls — defensive switches — to Woolsey’s call in an attempt to confuse the UH linemen.
The tactic is considered unsportsmanlike, and twice the Bulldogs were whistled for delay of game for trying to be disruptive. But the violation was not enforced consistently, and the Warriors were penalized eight times for false starts.
The UH coaches had alerted the referees to the tactic before the game. After the game, UH coach Norm Chow declined to discuss the situation, saying, "I’m not a complainer."
But Fresno State nose guard Tyeler Davison conceded that was part of the Bulldogs’ strategy. Fair is fair, said Davison, noting a quarterback tries to use hard cadences to draw defenders offsides.
"They can make us jump offsides," Davison said, "Why can’t defenses do that? That’s just part of our defense That’s kind of our philosophy. (Creating false starts) doesn’t go on the stat sheet."
Utah State tried a similar tactic against UH this season.
"It’s pretty universal," Woolsey said. "Utah State does it a lot. I’m assuming (the Bulldogs) watch Utah State’s film, and they took that from them. We weren’t expecting them to do that. They weren’t really doing that on film. We have to be better with that. I have to do a better job of snapping the ball faster."
UH center Kody Afusia said it is apparent that the move calls are made intentionally at the same time as the quarterback’s calls.
"Not knowing who was saying what was throwing us off," Afusia said.
Afusia said it was not clear as to why the Warriors still were penalized for false starts after the Bulldogs were flagged for interfering with the UH signals.
But Afusia said the Warriors needed to do a better job of adapting to the officiating.
"It’s part of the game," Afusia said. "You have to play the way the refs call it. … It’s on us, and even on the receiver who jumped offsides. We have to lock in and focus more. …If it happens, if teams do that, we have to deal with it and lock in."