University of Hawaii football team out to end some bad memories at Boise State
Tonight’s nationally televised game between UH and Boise State matches teams on rolls.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
BOISE, Idaho >> The Hawaii football players wore numberless green shirts while going through a light practice on a high school field that was overdue for a trimming.
The Rainbow Warriors went through their plays and rehearsed the choreography of running on and off the field during specific situations.
There was nothing to indicate this was more than just another walk-through session ahead of what could be the Warriors’ most significant Mountain West game in eight years of membership. Tonight’s nationally televised game between UH and Boise State matches teams on rolls.
It has been 30 years since the Warriors had consecutive 4-1 starts. The 14th-ranked Broncos are 5-0, with aspirations of qualifying for a New Year’s Day bowl.
The Broncos lead the series 12-3, including 6-0 in Boise, where their average margin is 35 points. Nose tackle Eperone Moananu is the only remaining Warrior who played in the 55-0 beatdown at Albertsons Stadium in 2015. Safety Ikem Okeke played in the last meeting, at Aloha Stadium, in 2016.
“We got beat kind of bad, 52-16,” Okeke said. “It’s going to be good for us to get a whole new opportunity. It’s a whole new team they have. It’s a whole new team we have. All they can remember is they’ve beaten us for years. We have to change that mind-set in their heads.”
This week, the Warriors have preached unity and fearlessness. It is an attitude they employed when they opened the season against three consecutive Pac-12 teams.
“I said that in the summer,” head coach Nick Rolovich said. “I had that feeling. It wasn’t like we were scared when we went to Washington. We just got our ass beat. I know we weren’t scared. We haven’t been scared of anybody. I don’t plan on being scared with this group. They’re tough. They play hard. They work hard. They’ve earned the right to step on the field on Saturday by the way they practice and their offseason. They should feel good.”
The Warriors insist they will not be distracted by the blue turf or the large crowd. BSU has designated this game as homecoming and parents’ weekend.
“It’s another game on our journey for us,” Rolovich said. “They know it’s the next one, which is why it’s big. But it doesn’t mean we win the championship if we win this game. It’s a week-by-week deal now.”
Okeke said: “It doesn’t matter if they’re ranked No. 1 in the country or last in the country. It’s all nameless, faceless opponents.”
Slotback Cedric Byrd said he looks forward to playing on a field he has only seen on television. “I love going to other people’s stadiums, viewing different scenarios,” Byrd said. “That doesn’t really bother me. You have to control what you can control.”
BSU coach Bryan Harsin expects a challenging game. Asked what concerned him about the Warriors, Harsin said, “Everything. I think they’re a very complete team. I really do. I think they play well on offense. I like the quarterback (Cole McDonald). I think he’s been successful. He’s a good football player, and the guys around him are good football players. Defensively, they’ve gotten better as the season’s gone on. Specials teams, they make plays. … There’s just not really one area that you just go on, ‘All right, we’re going to focus on that and we’re going to be good.’ We’re not. We’re going to focus on all of it, and go out there, and try to do our best.”
The Broncos have been successful with Hank Bachmeier, a true freshman quarterback, at the controls. They have scored on 44 percent of their full possessions. The only deficiency has been the opening quarter, where they have been out-scored 38-27. Opponents have averaged 8.6 yards in the opening quarter and 4.4 yards thereafter. The Broncos have shut out three opponents in the second half.