Hawaii, Washington both looking for 2-0 start

Hawaii, Washington both looking for 2-0 start

Credit: Dean Rutz / Seattle Times

Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian says having his team play in a bowl game this season shows potential recruits that the football program is "moving in the right direction."

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by Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on September 9, 2011 at 9:25 AM

SEATTLE - For his entire Hawaii career, Bryant Moniz never considered running unless it was vital, rushing for a mere 219 yards in 24 games.

Then in the first game of his final Warriors season, Moniz went out and carved up Colorado for 121 yards rushing and three touchdowns last week, not to mention another 178 yards passing and one TD.

Consider it the latest evolution of Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense, where the Warriors are more than just an air-it-out team. There is a little run with the shoot, even if Moniz is more than happy to sit back and play catch.

"I'd rather throw the ball first, spread the ball out," Moniz said. "...I get a lot more tired when I'm running."

Flinging passes all over the field is still what Hawaii is known for. But the slightly modified version of the Warriors will make their mainland debut on Saturday against a Washington squad still stinging from criticism from its own head coach after escaping with a 30-27 win over defending FCS national champion Eastern Washington last week.

Steve Sarkisian ripped his Huskies after they needed an end zone interception from Desmond Trufant with 29 seconds left to hold off the pesky Eagles and managed just 250 yards offensively.

The offensive concerns are many for Washington, amplified by the Huskies failing to complete a pass for more than 10 yards and relying mostly on Chris Polk's running less than three weeks after he had minor knee surgery.

The Huskies also ended Week 1 of the season as the worst pass defense in the country after surrendering 469 yards passing to Eastern's Bo Levi Mitchell.

Ultimately, having played Eastern's wide open pass system could have been the perfect preparation for playing Hawaii, but only if the Huskies learn from the tentative approach that hampered them defensively in the opener.

"I think the mentality of the team was off. For us to play a cautious game like that is disappoin ting to me. That is something that is the last thing I want our team s to play with, a cautious mentality," Sarkisian said. "We should be aggressive, we should be relentless .... For a team that I'm coaching to play that way is one of the most disappointing things that I've seen around here. And so we'll address it and we'll get right."

That meant an intense week where Sarkisian didn't hold back his disappointment in the Huskies' effort, few players were willing to talk and practice was closed two days before the game. Washington is trying to start 2-0 for the first time since 2007 and remain perfect heading into next week's showdown at No. 10 Nebraska.

There aren't many similarities between what Eastern Washington ran and what Hawaii runs offensively, but the formations and the spread look at least give the Huskies some familiarity.

It also works the other way, with Hawaii coming in with a pretty good idea of how the Huskies secondary may try to slow the Warriors attack. And perhaps seeing ways to use Moniz's feet.

"A lot of his yardage was by design. He did a great job, such a great competitor. We could have thrown the ball more, but we were getting it on the run and it's called the run and shoot and we proved it last year," Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said. "We wanted to throw the ball and set up the run, but if we can get it on the run then we will take that too. He has the ability and he is faster than he has ever been so people aren't going to be able to do what they did in the past."

Hawaii gets the benefit of welcoming back outside linebacker Aaron Brown and receiver Darius Bright after they were suspended for the opener for being arrested on charges of misdemeanor assault. Washington is also expected to have cornerback Quinton Richardson healthy after he missed last week with an ankle sprain.

This trip to the mainland is an important test for Hawaii because of what lies ahead. After facing the Huskies, the Warriors are likely to be favored in each of their next six game s and have plenty of opportunity for Moniz to post big numbers and m ake his BryantMonizforHeisman.com site a little more realistic.

The trip to Seattle is the start of a two-game swing that concludes on Sept. 17 at UNLV before the Warriors return to the islands. Hawaii plays four of its first six on the road before closing with five of seven at home.

And Hawaii will be seeking just its second win against a BCS team on the road since 1998. The only previous win also came in Seattle when the Warriors beat Washington State 38-20 two years ago.

"Washington is going to be ready to play us because they aren't going to let that happen again," McMackin said. "We will be ready to play."

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