2007 Hawaii Warriors

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Hawaii Warriors Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Hawaii Warriors

Recap: Once Hawaii gets over the sting of being exposed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, it'll look back on 2007 as a truly remarkable season.  The Warriors exited the regular season as the nation's lone unbeaten team, winning season-ending thrillers over Nevada, Boise State, and Washington to bring unprecedented mainland exposure to the program.  For the third straight year, the face of Hawaii football was QB Colt Brennan, who finished third in the Heisman voting, while establishing a new NCAA record for career touchdown passes.      

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Colt Brennan

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Adam Leonard

Biggest Surprise: The defense.  Known only for its high-octane passing attack, Hawaii was also home to a feisty defense in 2007.  The Warriors performed well beyond expectations, ranking No. 2 in the WAC in total and scoring defense, while placing five players on the all-league first team.  

Biggest Disappointment: Hawaii wasn't supposed to beat an elite SEC program in the Sugar Bowl, but a 41-10 dress down validated the opinions of those that felt the school never belonged in a major bowl game.  The Warriors committed a BCS bowl-record six turnovers, squandering a lot of the goodwill they'd compiled during an otherwise outstanding season.       

Looking Ahead: Although life after Brennan won't be easy, you can do a lot worse than senior-to-be Tyler Graunke, a strong-armed veteran of 24 games and 217 passing attempts.  On defense, the Warriors will be tough up front, needing to find replacements for departing defensive backs Myron Newberry, Jacob Patek, and Gerard Lewis.

- 2007 Hawaii Preview
- 2006 Hawaii Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 12-0
2007 Record: 12

Sept. 1 No Colorado W 63-6
Sept. 8 at La Tech W 45-44 OT
Sept. 15 at UNLV W 49-14
Sept. 22 Char South. W 66-10
Sept. 29 at Idaho W 48-20
Oct. 6 Utah State W 52-37
Oct. 12 at SJSU W 42-35 OT
Oct. 27 N Mexico St W 50-13
Nov. 10 Fresno State W 37-30
Nov. 16 at Nevada W 28-26
Nov. 23 Boise State W 39-27
Dec. 1 Washington W 35-28
Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1 Georgia L 41-10

Jan. 1
2008 Sugar Bowl
Georgia 41 ... Hawaii 10

Georgia destroyed Hawaii with eight sacks, several other pressures, and holding the high-octane Warrior attack to a mere 306 yards with most coming late. Hawaii turned it over six times leading to several easy scores, but Georgia had now problems moving the ball on its own with Knowshon Moreno running for scores from 17 and 11 yards out in the first quarter, Sean Baliey catching an 11-yard scoring pass in the second, and Marcus Howard recovering a fumble off a sack in the third. Brandon Coutu blasted field goals from 52 and 45 yards out for the Bulldogs on the way to a 31-3 lead before Hawaii finally got in the end zone on a Tyler Graunke touchdown pass to Ryan Grice-Mullen in the fourth. The two teams combined for 22 penalties for 190 yards.
Offensive Player of the Game: The entire starting Georgia offensive line
Defensive Player of the Game: Georgia DE Marcus Howard made four tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, forced two tumbles, and recovered one for a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Georgia - Passing: Matthew Stafford, 14-23, 175 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Thomas Brown, 19-73, 1 TD. Receiving: Mo Massaquoi, 5-54
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 22-38, 169 yds, 3 INT
Kealoha Pilares, 7-26. Receiving:
Jason Rivers, 10-105
Thoughts & Notes ... 5 Thoughts on the Sugar Bowl ... Sugar Bowl Stream of Consciousness Quarter By Quarter Game Notes ... The Hawaii offensive line almost got Colt Brennan killed. The Warrior's star quarterback never had time to operate with the Bulldog defense hitting him on seemingly every play and throwing the Hawaii offense off its rhythm all game long. Hawaii might have been overwhelmed by the moment, but the biggest problem was the poor play by the offensive line. ... Lost in the blowout win was the average game by Matt Stafford and the passing game. Thomas Brown only averaged 3.8 yards per carry, but Knowshon Moreno averaged 6.8 yards a pop to get the running game going. They carried the day while Stafford only completed 14 of 23 passes despite having all the time he wanted. ... Because of the sacks, Georgia outgained Hawaii 159 yards to -5 on the ground.

Dec. 1
Hawaii 35 ... Washington 28
Down 21 midway through the second quarter, Hawaii scored 28 unanswered points with Ryan Grice-Mullen taking a pass for a five-yard score with 44 seconds to play. Washington had a last shot with two long passes, including a 49-yard play to Marcel Reece, to get down to the Hawaii six, but in the final moments, a Jake Locker pass was bobbled into the hands of Ryan Mouton, who sealed the perfect regular season for the Warriors. Colt Brennan was nearly perfect with four touchdown passes to Jason Rivers to get back in the game after a slow start. Washington scored the first 21 points of the game on two short Luke Kravitz runs and an eight-yard Locker run, but couldn't keep the offense going after the big first quarter.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 42 of 50 passes for 442 yards and five touchdowns. Jason Rivers caught 14 passes for 167 yards and four scores
Stat Leaders: Washington - Passing: Jake Locker, 9-17, 142 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Louis Rankin, 21-145. Receiving: Anthony Russo, 3-38
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 42-50, 442 yds, 5 TD
Daniel Libre, 10-82. Receiving: Jason Rivers, 14-167, 4 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... If Colt Brennan didn't at least seal third place in Heisman voting after, arguably, his greatest game under the toughest of pressure situations, there's nothing else he could've done. On a weekend when everyone else choked and folded, Hawaii could've done the same after getting down 21 right away to Washington, but Brennan didn't make any mistakes, found his groove late, and the defense turned the pressure up a few notches. It might not have been easy, but 12-0 is still 12-0.

Nov. 23
Hawaii 39 ... Boise State 27
Colt Brennan took advantage of a banged up Boise State secondary to hit Jason Rivers from seven yards out and C.J. Hawthorne on a brilliant 38-yard throw to push the Warriors ahead in the third quarter on the way to the WAC title. Boise State started off the scoring with a 50-yard Ian Johnson run, answered a Brennan one-yard touchdown run with a Johnson one-yard touchdown, and got a six-yard scoring catch from Richie Brockel, but couldn't get the offense going in the fourth quarter. Davone Bess caught 15 passes for the Warriors with touchdown catches from 23 and 22 yards out. Solomon Elimimian made 14 tackles for Hawaii with ten solo stops.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 40 of 53 passes for 495 yards and five touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran nine times for 18 yards and a touchdown. Davone Bess caught 15 passes for 181 yards and a two scores
Stat Leaders: Boise State - Passing: Taylor Tharp, 22-36, 231 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ian Johnson, 22-86, 2 TD. Receiving: Jeremy Childs, 8-102
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 40-53, 495 yds, 5 TD, 2 INT
Kealoha Pilares, 9-48. Receiving: Davone Bess, 15-181, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Colt Brennan had yet another wonderful game in what might be his signature performance, and Davone Bess was brilliant, but the most impressive aspect of the win over Boise State was a fourth quarter without any points. Using the the ground game, with smart running from Kealoha Pilares, and third down conversions, the Warriors held on to the ball for 11:06. When the Broncos threatened, the UH defense came through with the stop and Brennan did the rest. Now it's important to not get lost in the WAC title win. That was nice, but it won't mean nearly as much without a win against Washington and a spot in a BCS game.

Nov. 16
Hawaii 28 ... Nevada 26
Dan Kelly nailed a 45-yard field goal with 11 seconds to play ... but Nevada called a time out just before the kick. Kelly's second shot went straight down the middle to give Hawaii the win. In place of Colt Brennan, who only played two snaps after the concussion suffered against Fresno State, Tyler Graunke came through with a huge game with a seven-yard touchdown run and threw a three-yard scoring pass to Jason Rivers and a 22-yarder to Ryan Grice-Mullen. Nevada got down 12-0, but came back on two Luke Lippencott touchdowns, on a 22-yard catch and a five-yard run, and a three-yard Colin Kaepernick run.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Tyler Graunke completed 33 of 46 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns, and ran ten times for 28 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Nevada - Passing: Colin Kaepernick, 9-20, 134 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Luke Lippincott, 25-140, 1 TD. Receiving: Marko Mitchell, 3-70
Hawaii - Passing: Tyler Graunke, 33-46, 358 yds, 2 TD
Daniel Libre, 6-40. Receiving: Davone Bess, 12-137
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Hawaii came up with its toughest win of the season against a strong Nevada team. Considering it was on the road with Boise State up next, and with Colt Brennan on the sidelines, the defense stepped up to shut down the Wolf Pack passing game and Tyler Graunke played a tight, efficient game. Again, give credit to a defense that kept Nevada's Colin Kaepernick to nine of 20 passes for just 134 yards. Of course, Dan Kelly's 45-yard kick was as clutch as they come to keep the dream season alive, and now it's on to the showdown against Boise State.

Nov. 10
Hawaii 37 ... Fresno State 30
Hawaii QB Colt Brennan tied Ty Detmer's record for most touchdown passes, but he might not remember much about it. Brennan ran for a three-yard score and threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Jason Rivers and a five-yard pass to Davone Bess on the way to a 31-10 lead, but he was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Fresno State made it interesting with two Marlon Moore touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors were able to hang on. The two teams combined to convert four of 19 third down chances.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 28 of 39 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and ran for five yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 15-26, 209 yds, 3 TD
Rushing: Clifton Smith, 17-105. Receiving: Seyi Ajirotutu, 4-64
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 28-39, 396 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Leon Wright-Jackson, 6-65, 1 TD. Receiving: Ryan Grice-Mullen, 9-128
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Hawaii won the battle, but did it lose the overall war? The win over Fresno State was nice, and there was a surprising running game to go along with all the big yards through the air, but the loss of Colt Brennan to a concussion could kill the BCS dream. While he appears to be fine, he'll be questionable for the road trip to Nevada in what's certain to be a shootout. Tyler Graunke will have to be sharp, and the defense will have to come up with one of its stronger games.

Oct. 27
Hawaii 50 ... New Mexico State 13
Colt Brennan threw six touchdown passes with three to Ryan Grice-Mullen from 20, 42 and 11 yards out, while New Mexico State, who held on to the ball for 38:59, failed to keep up the pace. The Warriors got up 23-0 before the Aggies got on the board with two Paul Young field goals. They didn't find the end zone until Wes Neiman caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in the third, but the Hawaii answered right back with a Grice-Mullen's third score as part of a 21 point run. The defense finished things off with a 57-yard JoPierre interception return for a score.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 29 of 46 passes for 425 yards and six touchdowns with an interception, and WR Ryan Grice-Mullen caught 13 passes for 195 yards and three scores.
Stat Leaders: New Mexico State - Passing: Chase Holbrook, 37-52, 328 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Tonny Glynn, 5-35. Receiving: Derek Dubois, 8-106
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 29-46, 425 yds, 6 TD, 1 INT
Kealoha Pilares, 6-47. Receiving: Ryan Grice-Mullen, 13-195, 3 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Ahhhh, to be back home. New Mexico State is a dangerous team that didn't have a prayer from the word go. Colt Brennan got into his early groove, Ryan Grice-Mullen was unstoppable and the game was over. The defense did a terrific job of keeping the Aggie big plays to a minimum, and now it'll have to get ready for its first pounding running game of the year when Fresno State comes into town. At this point, Brennan should be able to bomb his way out of any real problems.

Oct. 12
Hawaii 42 ... San Jose State 35 OT
Colt Brennan hit Jason Rivers for a two-yard touchdown on Hawaii's overtime possession, and then Myron Newberry sealed the win with an over-the-shoulder interception on San Jose State's possession to cap a furious comeback. Down 14 with fewer than four minutes remaining, Hawaii got an 11-yard Davone Bess touchdown catch, and went 45 yards in eight plays leading to a two-yard Brennan touchdown run with 31 seconds in regulation to put it into overtime. Hawaii scored the first 14 points, and then San Jose State went on a 28-point run thanks to an 84-yard Dwight Lowery punt return for a score and a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown. Kevin Jurovich lit up the third quarter with touchdown catches from 16 and 68 yards out, before Hawaii broke the run on a 34-yard C.J. Hawthorne scoring grab. Hawaii outgained San Jose State 601 yards to 344.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Tyler Graunke completed nine of 11 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for a score.
Stat Leaders: San Jose State - Passing: Adam Tafralis, 27-47, 302 yds, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: James T. Callier, 13-30, 1 TD. Receiving: Jacob French, 8-65
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 44-75, 545 yds, 4 TD, 4 INT
Kealoha Pilares, 10-52, 1 TD. Receiving:
Ryan Grice-Mullen, 14-175, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Hawaii might not have come up with the performance it wanted on national TV against San Jose State, but the team showed great heart in being able to comeback in the clutch on a muddy field. Even though Colt Brennan didn't go lights out, he showed Heisman-worth with his play in the final five minute and in overtime, and along the way, set the D-I record for the most career touchdown passes. Any time you beat Ty Detmer for an all-time record, you're doing something amazing.

Oct. 6
Hawaii 52 ... Utah State 37
With Colt Brennan knocked out with an ankle injury, Tyler Graunke came in and kept the machine rolling, running for a one-yard score with five seconds left in the first half, and hitting three touchdown passes in the third quarter, highlighted by a 72-yard play to Jason Rivers, to pull away. Utah State kept things interesting with a Kevin Robinson kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter, who also scored on a 77-yard pass in the third quarter, but couldn't keep pace after the second quarter. Hawaii got a kickoff return for a touchdown as well from Malcolm Lane in the second quarter.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Tyler Graunke completed nine of 11 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, and he ran for a score.
Stat Leaders: Utah State - Passing: Leon Jackson, 14-21, 161 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Derrvin Speight, 20-71, 1 TD. Receiving: Kevin Robinson, 5-96, 1 TD
Hawaii - Passing: Tyler Graunke, 9-11, 246 yds, 3 TD, 1 INT
Inoke Funaki, 4-20. Receiving:
C.J. Hawthorne, 9-116, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While it wasn't a pretty win over Utah State, and the injury to Colt Brennan is hardly a plus, at least Tyler Graunke got to see meaningful time and run the offense when the team needed him. Now, Graunke needs to be even sharper against San Jose State next week, if Brennan is still hurting, to keep the dream season alive, but he's going to need more from the running backs. There was a ground game against Idaho two weeks ago, and this week, it was abandoned in the shootout.

Sept. 29
Hawaii 48 ... Idaho 20
There were 11 turnovers with each team throwing five interceptions, but Colt Brennan also threw three first half touchdown passes, connecting with Ryan Grice-Mullen from 13 yards out, Davone Bess on a 24-yarder, and Malcolm Lane from 41 yards, out, but it was the Warrior defense that put the game away, with Adam Leonard taking a pass 40 yards for a score, and Myron Newberry picking off a pass for a 76-yard touchdown on the way to a 41-10 halftime lead. Brennan added a one-yard touchdown run before Idaho took over the fourth quarter with a 49-yard Tino Amancio field goal and Eddie Williams' second score of the day.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan went 30-of-49 for 369 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions, adding a touchdown on the ground.
Stat Leaders: Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 30-49, 369 yds, 3 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Kealoha Pilares, 10-85. Receiving: Davone Bess, 12-162, 1 TD
Idaho - Passing: Nathan Enderle, 15-34, 186 yds, 1 TD, 5 INTs
Deonte Jackson, 7-47. Receiving: Eddie Williams, 5-78, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While Colt Brennan's five interceptions against Idaho will generate the most national news out of the game, this was still an important win for Hawaii; it showed it had a defense. With six takeaways, two pick-sixes, and a great job done against the Vandal running game, the Warriors overcame the offense's mistakes, while Brennan and the boys took advantage of every opportunity. Considering this is the end of the road portion of the program for a while, Hawaii has to be happy to just survive and move on.

Sept. 22
Hawaii 66 ... Charleston Southern 10
It wasn't quite the smooth-sailing Hawaii offense everyone is used to, but it was effective as it broke open a 21-10 halftime lead with 45 unanswered points. Tyler Graunke threw three touchdown passes, Adam Leonard an interception for a score on CSU's first drive of the second half, and Ryan Mouton took the opening kickoff after halftime 90 yards for a score. Graunke also ran for a score. CSU managed 310 yards of total offense highlighted by a 57-yard Dee Brown touchdown catch in the first quarter, but it turned it over four times and failed to score in the second half.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Tyler Graunke completed 22 of 36 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions, and ran two times for a touchdown.
Stat Leaders: Hawaii - Passing: Tyler Graunke, 22-36, 285 yds, 3 TD, 2 INT
Kealoha Pilares, 7-45, 1 TD. Receiving: C.J. Hawthorne, 5-91, 2 TD
Charleston Southern - Passing: Eli Byrd, 13-31, 184 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Eli Byrd, 10-30. Receiving: Dee Brown, 4-82, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While Tyler Graunke was good against Charleston Southern, he showed he's not Colt Brennan. Resting his injured ankle, Brennan should be back against Idaho next week. In the meantime, Graunke's effective, but spotty performance goes to show that it's part system, part player. Brennan runs the thing to perfection. The coaching staff didn't quite use this game to get the running game going. Eight different players carried the ball for a mere 147 yards. A top back has yet to emerge to demand double-digit carries.

Sept. 15
Hawaii 49 ... UNLV 14
UNLV scored on its opening drive of the game, going 79 yards in 13 plays, capped off with a six-yard Frank Summers touchdown run. And then Hawaii's offense took the field. 42 points later, helped by a 40-yard Ryan Mouton interception return for a score, the third quarter was over. Colt Brennan ran or three scores and threw touchdown passes to Ryan Grice-Mullen and Jason Rivers before giving way to backup Tyler Graunke. UNLV got back on the board with a 31-yard Omar Clayton run in the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 26 of 32 passes for 298 yards and two touchdowns and ran nine times for 19 yards and three scores
Stat Leaders: Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 26-32, 298 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Kealoha Pilares, 11-62. Receiving: C.J. Hawthorne, 9-104
UNLV - Passing: Travis Dixon, 19-37, 193 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Frank Summers, 12-43. Receiving: Ryan Wolfe, 7-47

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Hawaii needed to show it could blowout a team, even an inferior one, on the road, and it did that with ease against UNLV. Colt Brennan was his typical magnificent self, but the Warriors also got a little bit of a running game out of Kealoha Pilares, and a great defensive effort all the way around. Solomon Elimimian was tremendous, making 14 tackles, helping the D force UNLV to only convert six of 17 third down chances.

Sept. 8
Hawaii 45 ... Louisiana Tech 44 OT
Louisiana Tech answered a Hawaii overtime touchdown with a two-yard touchdown catch from Dustin Mitchell, but the two-point conversion attempt for the win was broken up and the Warriors hung on. Colt Brennan threw four touchdown passes for Hawaii with third quarter strikes from 64 and 17 yards out to Ryan Grice-Mullin, a 19-yard play to Davone Bess in the fourth, and a six-yard strike to Jason Rivers in overtime. Louisiana Tech's offense kept up the pace with Patrick Jackson running for two scores and Zac Champion hitting josh Wheeler with a three-yard scoring pass, but Hawaii kept coming back, eventually sending it into overtime on a 34-yard Dan Kelly field goal.
Player of the game ... Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 34 of 40 passes for 416 yards and six touchdowns and led the Warriors with 23 yards on three carries
Stat Leaders: Louisiana Tech - Passing: Zac Champion, 23-36, 187 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Patrick Jackson, 23-98, 2 TD  Receiving: Philip Beck, 5-40
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 43-61, 548 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Leon Wright-Jackson, 6-53, 1 TD  Receiving:
Jason Rivers, 14-176, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Hawaii is going to throw it all the time, but it also came up with a little bit of a running game as Leon Wright-Jackson ripped off 53 yards with a 47-yard scoring dash. However, that was it. The Warrior only got nine carries out of the tailbacks and didn't even pretend to establish the ground attack for any stretch of time. This team is going to be all about Colt Brennan bombing away, and with the way the receivers are making plays, there's no reason not to. However, the big problem will continue to be the defense. This group couldn't slow down Louisiana Tech, and is going to have major problems down the road against anyone with some balance, or a crisp midrange passing game.

Sept. 1
Hawaii 63 ... Northern Colorado 6
Hawaii roared out to a 35-0 halftime lead on five of Colt Brennan's six touchdown passes, and went up 42-0 on a 80-yard Michael Washington punt return. Northern Colorado's only points came on a Mike Vlahogeorge run early in the fourth quarter, but Hawaii answered with a 94-yard kickoff return for a score from Malcolm Lane on the ensuing kickoff. The Warriors only ran the ball ten times while the quarterbacks combined to throw 59 times for 540 yards and seven scores.
Player of the game ... Hawaii QB Colt Brennan completed 34 of 40 passes for 416 yards and six touchdowns and led the Warriors with 23 yards on three carries
Stat Leaders: Northern Colorado - Passing: Mike Vlahogeorge, 9-13, 70 yds
Rushing: David Woods, 12-27  Receiving: Andy Birkel, 6-49
Hawaii - Passing: Colt Brennan, 34-40, 416 yds, 6 TD
Colt Brennan, 3-23  Receiving:
Ryan Grice-Mullen, 9-130, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... And it could've been a lot worse. Had Hawaii wanted to, it could've hung 100 on Northern Colorado but pulled back even though it abandoned any attempt at running the ball. The offense worked exclusively on the passing game getting Tyler Graunke and Inoke Funaki meaningful time. Now the ground game has to emerge and a running back has to add some sort of an option to Brennan's bombing.

Sept. 1 – Northern Colorado

Sept. 8 – at Louisiana Tech
Defense: 2006 was expected to be a year of transition, but yeesh. The D was the worst in America allowing 483 yards and close to 42 points per game, and it was simply awful from start to finish. Step one for the new coaching staff is to find a way to get into the backfield after the Bulldogs finished dead last in sacks and tackles for loss, and it'll alternated between a 3-4 and a 4-3 to try to get some production. The linebacking corps should be decent, the secondary can fly, and the defensive line is full of decent-sized veterans. Now there has to be come semblance of production.
Offense: It's not like the offense was awful last year, but it wasn't consistent and it didn't do enough to keep in all the shootouts created by its defense. Enough talent returns to look for more overall production, especially in the running game where Patrick Jackson should shine behind a big, veteran offensive line that can block, but can't pass protect. The quarterback situation will be worth watching with Zac Champion likely to get the job to start the season, but will be pushed by Michael Mosley and Ross Jenkins for time.

Sept. 15 – at UNLV
Offense: The Rebel Shotgun Spread has basically misfired over the first two seasons, but the potential is there for a huge turnaround. QB Rocky Hinds, a disappointment in his first season after coming over from USC, played with a torn ACL almost all season, and now he'll be healthy. He'll have a loaded receiving corps to work with led by Casey Flair and Ryan Wolfe, but all eyes will be on Aaron Straiten on the outside. The star JUCO transfer of last year has million-dollar talent, but now he needs to use it. The emergence of Frank Summers as a powerback should help out the running game, which already has speed -rusher David Peeples, but the offensive line has to do more to pave the way.
Defense: The defense struggled way too much to get a stop early in games, and it forced the offense to press way too often. Now there should be a bit of an improvement with several good returning starters and a fearsome pass rush. The ends should be terrific, and the linebackers can all move, but the emphasis going into the year will be to stop the run. Are the defenders in place to do it? That remains to be seen, but the biggest concern will be with a secondary that didn't make nearly enough plays last year, and now it doesn't have Eric Wright.

Sept. 22 – Charleston Southern

Sept. 29 – at Idaho
Offense: Same idea, different implementation. The new coaching staff will go with a one-back set using four and five-wide formations, sort of like the old coaching staff did, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on tough running. That's a good thing with the strength in the running back corps with four good players, led by junior Jayson Bird, to carry the offense early on. The quarterback situation will be settled this fall with the likely winner being 6-5 redshirt freshman Nathan Enderle, but the receiving corps is going to be a work in progress well into the season. The starting five up front should be fine due to its experience, but it's nothing special. 
Defense: There's experience and all-star talent to work with, so why was the Vandal defense so miserable last season? The line. The front four has to find tackles that can stop the run, and ends that can get into the backfield. If that happens, there could be a night-and-day improvement as the coaching staff looks to attack, attack, and attack some more. With MLB JoArtis Ratti back and healthy, he should combine with David Vobora to create the WAC's most dangerous linebacking duo. Corner Stanley Franks is an interception machine, and safety Shiloh Keo is an undersized hitter. Now everything has to start working around those four.

Oct. 6 - Utah State
Offense: The offense did next to nothing last season scoring fewer than 14 points seven times and finishing averaging 10.83 points and 254 yards per game. The offensive line isn't bad and the starting receivers, led by Kevin Robinson, are solid, but the quarterback situation isn't settled with Riley Nelson out on a church mission, and there's no experience whatsoever at running back after Marcus Cross transferred. Basically, the attack needs to find one thing it can do well.
If experience counts for anything, the Aggies should be far better with 11 returning starters and a ton of veteran backups ready to fill in. Now the defense has to stop someone after getting ripped apart by just about everyone. How bad did things get? The Aggies allowed an average of 48.8 points per game over the final five games. Ben Calderwood leads an undersized line that has to do more to get into the backfield. The corners are way too small, the linebackers are way too small, and the tackles are way too small. If the overall team quickness isn't accounting for big plays, there will be problems.

Oct. 12 - San Jose State
Offense: The offense wasn't always explosive, but it was steady, didn't give the ball away, kept the chains moving, and got the job done. Expect more of the same if the offensive line can quickly replace three starters and the new recruits for the receiving corps can play right away. The passing game loses the top three targets and 141 of 181 catches, so ultra-efficient QB Adam Tafralis has to be even better. Yonus Davis leads a small, quick, veteran group of running backs that can take it the distance with a little bit of room.
Defense: The Spartan defense took a giant leap forward giving up yards, but not a whole bunch of points allowing fewer than 24 in ten of the final 11 games. Seven starters are back from the ball-hawking crew led by tackling machine Matt Castelo at middle linebacker and corners Dwight Lowery and Christopher Owens. The defensive front has to do a better overall job, and it will now that it's experienced after cutting its teeth last season. Jarron Gilbert and Justin Cole will be pass rushing terrors. Expect this group to give up plenty of yards, but also come up with more than its share of takeaways.

Oct. 27 - New Mexico State
So that's how it's supposed to work? With Chase Holbrook at the helm, the Aggies finished third in the nation in total offense averaging 475 yards a game, 15th in scoring averaging 31 points a game, and second in passing averaging 399 yards per game. Those numbers might seem pedestrian this year if everyone stays healthy. Nine starters return including the top seven pass catchers, starting running back Jeremiah Williams, four linemen, and of course, Holbrook, who'll be one of the nation's statistical leaders all year long if the line, which found the right combination late last year, gives him just a little more time.
Defense: Big plays, big plays, big plays. The call has gone out from defensive coordinator Woody Widenhofer for the defense to use all its experience, with eight returning starters (with safety Gerald Gurrier moving to receiver) to find a way to force more turnovers, come up with more stops on third downs, and most importantly, generate a pass rush. The Aggies came up with a mere 15 sacks and 55 tackles for loss last year, and those numbers need to double to give the beleaguered secondary any shot of being better. There isn't a whole bunch of talent from top to bottom, so everyone will have to be ultra-aggressive and more consistent.

Nov. 10 - Fresno State
Offense: New offensive coordinator Jim McElwain will pump some life into a stagnant passing game with a wide-open attack featuring some funky, multi-receiver formations while not running quite as much. Call it playing to the strengths, as the receiving corps is lightning fast, but untested, while Tom Brandstater, who struggled mightily last year, is still a talent who appears ready to make a big jump and become a major player. The running game will suffer without Dwayne Wright, but Lonyae Wright and Clifton Smith should be decent. The line is the strength of the team with four starters returning to a group that allowed just 12 sacks.
Defense: After a tremendous 2005 season when the defense dominated, last year was a step back, especially in the secondary. Enough overall experience returns to be better, but the line has to do more to get into the backfield and the corners have to pick off more passes after taking away just three. There's plenty of speed and athleticism in the linebacking corps to swarm to the ball, and there's size and pass rushing ability from the front four, but there have to be more big plays and more takeaways.

Nov. 16 – at Nevada
Offense: The offense is going to be a work in progress and should be far better midseason than it will be to start. The biggest question marks are on the offensive line, particularly at tackle, after Charles Manu moved to guard and Dominic Green move to center. The receiving corps is big, faster than last year, and should make more big plays with big-armed Nick Graziano taking over at quarterback. The running backs need Brandon Fragger to be healthy to add a speed option along with Luke Lippencott. The Pistol offense will likely use a little more fullback this year, and will try to push the passing game deeper.
Defense: There will be some new defensive coaches taking over with coordinator Ken Wilson keeping the 3-4 scheme to take advantage of the great linebackers. Ezra Butler, Jeremy Engstrom, and Joshua Mauga are as good as any trio in the WAC, and will be the team's strength. The line is solid, helped by the emergence of nose tackle Matt Hines as a top all-around playmaker. The secondary is fine, but nothing special; the better WAC passing games won't have a problem against it.

Nov. 23 - Boise State
Offense: As the Fiesta Bowl showed, there isn't a more creative offensive coaching staff in the country, but the attack, led by a Heisman caliber back in Ian Johnson working behind a tremendous line, could look positively vanilla (by Boise State standards) early on. Ryan Clady leads a dominant front five with four starters returning, and they'll need to be even stronger in pass protection with the quarterback situation unsettled. Taylor Tharp is a good, accurate passer, while Bush Hamdan is a big-armed runner who'll throw it all over the place. The receiving corps has potential, but the top four pass catchers have to be replaced. Even so, look for several different formations and several different looks from game to game.
Defense: As expected, the defense was the best in the WAC last year and should be fantastic again with seven starters returning. Stopping the run will be goal one, and it can be with a fantastic returning pass defense. The secondary will be great with safety Marty Tadman and the corner tandem of Orlando Scandrick and Kyle Wilson returning, while the linebacking corps, even with the loss of Korey Hall, will be a strength with Derrell Acrey expected to step up and star, with veterans Kyle Gingg and David Shields keeping the run defense strong. Mike Williams and Nick Schlekeway form a good end tandem, but the tackles will be the team's biggest question mark outside of the quarterback situation.

Dec. 1 - Washington
Offense: All eyes in Seattle will be fixed on the debut of hot-shot rookie quarterback Jake Locker, but if there's one priority for Tyrone Willingham in 2007, it's to get more consistent on the ground.  Conservative by Pac-10 doctrine, the third-year coach wants to pound it between the tackles to set up the pass.  Top back Louis Rankin is more of an outside runner, putting the onus on 210-pound sophomore J.R. Hasty to start realizing his vast potential.  While Locker has all the tools for stardom, he'll spend most of the upcoming season adapting to his new role as the face of the program.  His big-play target will be senior Marcel Reece, a Mike Walker clone poised to make a salary run.
Even with a slight improvement in 2006, the Husky pass defense ranked among the nation's worst for the second straight year.  With no stars and two new starters, expect more of the same in 2007.  The problems in the secondary will again overshadow a sneaky good front seven that features four returning starters on the defensive line and a group of young, dynamic linebackers, including sophomores E.J. Savannah and Donald Butler that could evolve into playmakers.  Defensive ends Greyson Gunheim and Daniel Te'o Nesheim are a couple of warriors that combined for two dozen tackles for loss last fall.  At 6-5 and 265 pounds, Gunheim runs like a gazelle, making him a magnet for NFL scouts visiting the Northwest.


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