Blog: Overrated USC shows holes in its defense, underrated Hawaii has potential

Steve Jackson

Elephant in the Room
with Steve Jackson

As I walked into the Stadium tonight from parking near Radford High School, I couldn’t tell whether there was a football game going on or the Democratic State Convention. There were plenty of Mufi supporters lining the road and I think I saw Peter Carlisle lapsed into a chair next to some tail-gaiters, probably tired from his stretch of waving. Neil Abercrombie was there. I saw Panos Prevedouros (the only Republican I saw) before I entered the stadium and also Kirk Caldwell talking to some supporters outside a concession stand just before halftime.

The game ... well, I thought Hawaii played USC tough, a couple breaks and they may have made it closer than the 49-36 final. Both teams looked a little rusty coming out of the gate. There were fumbles from both USC and Hawaii in the first quarter and miscommunications on both sides at times.

The Warriors missed a couple of chances to score early; there were two red zone possessions in the first half where they came away with only field goals.

Hawaii’s O-line, which some described as inexperienced and a question mark coming into the game, seemed to handle the USC front four pretty well for much of the game. Bryant Moniz (#17) was sacked a couple of times, but it didn’t seem like the pocket collapsed too quickly. He was able to use his feet for a couple of first downs but was hammered in the third quarter on a broken play scramble and replaced for the rest of the game.

A couple WR’s had a case of the dropsies. After making a nice play early in the game, Royce Pollard (#81) dropped a pass that looked like it may have gone for a touchdown. He rebounded, however and ended up with an impressive 106 yard receiving day. Others dropped were catchable and there were some misfires from both quarterbacks on plays that might have been big ones. Kealoha Pilares (#21) shined with 3 TD’s and 176 yards with five receptions.

I thought the most impressive and unusual aspect of this matchup was the Warrior’s success running the ball. I kept wondering to myself how Alex Green (#25) and Chizzy Demude (#26) did so well against a defense molded by defensive legend Monty Kiffin. The running backs combined to rush for 126 yards on the ground on only 15 carries. The Warriors had a stellar passing game, but it was a surprise to see the Warriors pound it down the Trojans throat for a TD in the third quarter and through much of the game.

Overall, Hawaii played high caliber football, they didn’t roll over and played a lot better than many might have predicted. Two big plays in particular sealed their fate: the original long screen play to USC WR Johnson (#83) and the punt return for a Touchdown in the third quarter when the score was relatively close.

It came down to the Trojans making big plays and the Warriors missing chances. In an interview on ESPN at talf time, Lane Kiffin said that he thought the Trojans were playing poorly and that they’d given Hawaii too many chances. Personally, my thought is that the Trojans might be a little overrated and UH might be a little underrated. The Trojans have started off slow before and maybe the offseason might have taken a toll, but my gut says that the game displayed the reality of each team.