’Bows hope they can catch their breath
In anticipation of the Rocky Mountains’ breathtaking thin air, University of Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich had a high-minded suggestion.
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. >> In anticipation of the Rocky Mountains’ breathtaking thin air, University of Hawaii football coach Nick Rolovich had a high-minded suggestion.
Unfortunately, Rolovich mused, “Haleakala was booked.”
Instead, the Rainbow Warriors prepared the old-fashioned way for today’s road game against Air Force at Falcon Stadium. They had frequent water breaks during practices in Manoa earlier this week and at Cheyenne Mountain High the past two days. They also gave equal work to the first- and second-team players to build depth and easy substitutions. And after every practice, they ran width-of-the-field sprints.
“I don’t think you can get acclimated in two days,” said Rolovich, whose team arrived in Colorado Springs on Thursday morning following a red-eye flight from Honolulu and then a 90-minute bus ride from Denver. When he was on Nevada’s coaching staff the past four years, the estimation was acclimation to high altitude took about 10 days.
“We don’t have two weeks to go up there to prepare,” Rolovich said this week.
Slotback Dylan Collie, who redshirted at Brigham Young (4,630-foot elevation) in 2012, said high altitude is not as big a concern as advertised.
“You’ve just got to breathe,” Collie said. “Once you breathe, you’ll be fine. It’s kind of a mental thing for a lot of people. It kind of freaks people out. It’s just another day. It’s the same air as (in Hawaii), just a little thinner.”
The Warriors can breathe easier following crisp practices this week. They have addressed ball-handling problems and tackling issues.
“As a team, we’ll be fine,” said quarterback Dru Brown, who is 2-1 as a starter. Brown has not been intercepted in 112 consecutive passes, but he has lost a fumble in each of the past four games. He said he works on ball security every practice. “Staying conscious of it,” Brown said.
The Falcons, who have lost two in a row, are exceptional at Falcon Stadium. They have won 15 consecutive home games, the second-longest current streak among FBS teams. During that span, they have trailed for 13 seconds and tied for 12 minutes, 4 seconds.
Their precision triple-option offense has opened the way for play-action passes.
“They’re a disciplined team,” UH defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said. “They defend our country. They’re guys you can count on. We need to be the same way. We need to be disciplined.”
Middle linebacker Jahlani Tavai said: “We have to make sure we top their discipline and come in prepared, and just play our defense the way it should be played.”