University of Hawaii football team ready to face Broncos in MWC Championship
For Friday afternoon’s news conference at Albertsons Stadium, the Mountain West championship trophy was displayed on a table near the podium.
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 >> For Friday afternoon’s news conference at Albertsons Stadium, the Mountain West championship trophy was displayed on a table near the podium. On the other side of the room were glass doors leading to a lanai overlooking the famed blue turf. A pile of snow covered in black soot was under the metal bleachers in the end zone.
The imagery was symbolic of the Hawaii football team’s mind-set entering today’s title game against 19th-ranked Boise State. The distractions of the field’s color and Boise’s elements (2,730-foot elevation) were in the background. The eyes were on the prize.
“You look at it and you say, ‘OK, we’ve been there. We know what it’s all about,’ ” said defensive coordinator Corey Batoon, referencing the Oct. 12 meeting between the schools. “We know what (the field is) about. It’s not totally new to the kids. I don’t pay much credence to that. It’s about getting lined up, executing, tackling, covering. Those fundamentals.”
The Warriors have never won in their seven games in Boise. Turnovers and debatable calls contributed to the Warriors’ 59-37 loss in October, one of three times the Broncos have racked up more than 50 points this season. The Broncos are double-digit favorites for their fourth appearance since the championship game was created in 2013. This is the Warriors’ first appearance in any sort of title game.
As underdogs, quarterback Cole McDonald said, “we have nothing to lose. There’s no pressure at all going into this game. We have nothing to lose, and we’re going to go out there with that mentality and play hard football.”
Of the blue turf, slotback Cedric Byrd said: “It’s just a regular field. It’s still 100 yards in length. It’s nothing different. It probably just looks different on TV.”
The Warriors insist they are not the same as when they last played in Boise. McDonald and Chevan Cordeiro now split the quarterback’s duties. Miles Reed has become a prolific runner, and power back Dayton Furuta, who had missed nine games because of an ankle injury, is healthy and back in the rotation. UH’s defense also has played well the past three games. In the last meeting, the Broncos took over, on average, at the UH 31 following fumbles by the Warriors.
After clinching a berth in the title game, the Broncos began studying video of the seven games the Warriors played since the Oct. 12 meeting between the teams.
“I’ve (had) a chance to go back and watch those games because, after we played Hawaii, you don’t watch what they’re doing until you know who you’re going to play (in the title game),” BSU coach Bryan Harsin said. “Now we’ve had a chance to do that. Certainly seeing their growth and their team improve … as the season goes on, that’s why you have two teams that are playing in this game, because they have gotten better.”
The Broncos also have a revised quarterback situation. There were five candidates at the start of training camp. That was pared to three, with freshman Hank Bachmeier leading the Broncos to a 6-0 start. But Jaylon Henderson, the third-string quarterback, has ascended the depth chart, replacing the twice-injured Bachmeier. Henderson will make his fourth consecutive start.
The Broncos contend they did not take their success for granted, especially closing the regular season with a road game against Utah State and then playing Colorado State on short rest. It was the Broncos’ next-game focus that prevented them from including the title game as part of the season package. As a result, the Broncos had to sell tickets from scratch for today’s game. It is estimated fewer than 24,000 will attend. Albertsons’ capacity is 36,387.
“Just go out there and have fun,” McDonald said of the Warriors’ approach. “It’s one of the last times we’ll ever be together as a team, as a unit. We’re going to go out there and have fun and play ball.”