HONOLULU — Hawai’i coach June Jones down-plays any suggestion that the Warriors are still stinging from last year’s 69-3 loss at Boise State, insisting there’s no added significance in facing the Broncos .
“We don’t talk about it too much,” Jones said. “It’s just another game. It’s a home game and we need to win.”
His players are a little more forth-coming.
“Last year’s game is really upsetting,” Warriors cornerback Kenny Patton said. “It makes us really upset and makes us want to try that much harder to defeat them.”
Three-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion Boise State (1-2) opens conference play against Hawaii (1-2, 1-0 WAC). The Broncos have defeated Hawaii four times during their record 26-game WAC winning streak.
“Our goal is for a four-peat,” Broncos defensive tackle Alex Guerrero said.
Both teams stumbled early against tough opponents, but recorded their first wins last week and now seem more confident and focused.
Hawaii, which allowed an average of 52.5 points against high-powered Southern California and Michigan State, defeated Idaho 24-0 last week. It was the Warriors’ first shutout in six years and first road win since 2003.
They now turn their attention to the Broncos.
“We want to make it a sweep of the Idaho teams,” said Hawaii linebacker Tanuvasa Moe, who leads the team with 19 tackles.
Hawaii defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville simplified his playbook after his defense struggled. The players say it helped tremendously.
“It helped us react more and not think too much,” Moe said. “When people are reacting, they move a lot faster rather then if they’re second-guessing themselves.”
Glanville said the Broncos’ constantly shifting offense, filled with bootlegs, play action and reverses, will be a major challenge.
“This will be our toughest test in getting ready in the right defense,” he said.
After losing to Georgia and Oregon State on the road, and falling out of the Top 25, the Broncos returned home to defeat Bowling Green 48-20.
“It’s been fun to play the big teams, but everybody’s ready for WAC play,” Guerrero said.
He said the defense expects a tougher challenge this year from Hawaii because Warriors quarterback Colt Brennan scrambles and moves out of the pocket more often than former passer Timmy Chang. Hawaii also has a quick-strike offense.
“They get the ball out quickly, so it’s difficult to get pressure on the quarter-back,” Guerrero said.
Brennan, who completed 34 of 44 passes for 347 yards and three touch-downs last week, said he’s feeling more comfortable with every snap he takes.
“We definitely got more confidence out here and you can see us working harder,” he said. “But it’s Boise State. You can’t take it for granted. We’ve got to walk in with as many bullets in our holsters and be ready to fire all day long.”
Freshman wideout Davone Bess has emerged as one of Hawaii’s top offensive weapons. He caught 10 passes for 106 yards and two TDs against Idaho.
“They’re very talented,” Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said. “I love the way they play.
They play hard. They run around and hit you and make a lot of plays so we know we’re going to have our ‘A’ game on to have a chance to win.”
The Broncos are led by quarter-back Jared Zabransky, who threw a touchdown and ran for three more last week. Last year, Zabransky hurt Hawaii on the ground. He ran for 123 yards and four scores, including an 85-yard touchdown run, as the Broncos racked up 589 total yards against the Warriors’ soft defense.
“With a team like this, you can’t give them extra chances or the numbers go way the other way because they’re so efficient,” Jones said. “We just got to play good in all three-phases of the game and raise our game to their level and hopefully we can win.”
Broncos running back Lee Marks, who had 178 all-purpose yards last week, said he expects to see a much improved Hawaii team, especially on defense.
“Last year is last year,” he said. “This is a new year and a new football team.”
Boise St. at UH, tonight
TV: Live statewide on Oceanic Cable Pay-Per-View digital channel 256. Call (808) 643-2337. Delayed at 10:30 p.m. on K5. Rebroadcast, Sunday, Oct. 2 at 10 a.m. on channel K5.
Radio: Live on Kong AM570 at 6 p.m.