Resuming our Better Know a Foe series of conversations with beat writers who cover the Vandals’ football opponents, today’s guest is Honolulu Advertiser columnist Ferd Lewis.
The Warriors are in a tough spot right now. What’s the mindset within the program and its fans?
UH is 2-3 and the math tells us the team needs to win five of its remaining eight games to nail down a berth in the hometown Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, the avowed goal. The problem is that half the road games still remain and the immediate lineup — at Idaho, home with Boise State and at Nevada — means they’ll be underdogs all three weeks. Coming off consecutive one-sided losses and with fading bowl hopes, there is a developing circle-the-wagons mindset and desperation for a win.
How much did losing Greg Alexander hurt the team?
By virtue of the way he finished last season and the manner in which he lit up Wazoo earlier this year, Greg Alexander was becoming the “franchise” for the passing game. His loss for the season was exacerbated by the loss of his backup, Brent Rausch, three weeks earlier.
Has Bryant Moniz performed about as well as could be expected from a third-string backup?
Moniz began as the fourth or fifth QB on the depth chart in the spring but was challenging for No. 2 when the season began. He has a good arm, is a quick study in the offense and lacks mostly experience.
Is this game more or less a must-win situation to get the Warriors’ season back on track?
The one that got away — at Las Vegas, 34-33 — and back-to-back blowouts by Louisiana Tech and Fresno State have left UH with little room for error if they are to become bowl-eligible. New Mexico State and Utah State, both home games, still loom as likely wins but you’d be hard-pressed to name anybody else the Warriors will be favored over the rest of the way.
Who are the Warriors’ key playmakers to watch for on offense and defense?
Receiver Greg Salas, who was moved inside to a slot position this season, has been unstoppable when UH get the ball to him. Aptly-named linebacker Blaze Soares is usually around the ball and a crowd favorite in Hawaii for his punishing hits.
Fresno ran the Warriors into the ground. Do you think Hawaii will have more success stopping the Vandals’ rushing game?
Nothing against UI’s ground game, but after Fresno State and Ryan Mathews, Hawaii will gladly take its chances against most anybody else.
The Vandals have given up a lot of yards through the air with a pretty soft secondary. Is that giving the Warriors hope they can pull off the upset?
Hawaii, which went seven quarters without a touchdown until the 4th quarter last week when the game was no longer in doubt, is going to have to regain a passing touch it hasn’t seen since Wazoo or early in the UNLV game to pull this one out.