HONOLULU — Forget about conference points and bowl dreams. When Hawai’i (3-6, 3-4 Western Athletic Conference) and Utah State(2-6, 1-4) face off at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, both the Warriors and the Aggies will be looking to shake off consecutive loses to go into the end of the season on a better — not victorious — note.
“Both teams are really desperate and need a win,” said Utah State head coach Brent Guy, whose team has had a four-game losing streak since beating San Jose State on Oct. 8.
“Now it comes down to playing to finish the season strong and with pride,” said Guy. “We’ve got to learn to win and do the things that it takes to win a game.”
The Warriors are also longing for a win, after falling in their last two games, including Saturday’s 28-38 loss to Nevada that scrapped the team’s chances of making into a bowl game.
“We are just trying to get out and win now,” said outside line-backer Kila Kamakawiwo’ole, who leads the Warriors with seven sacks.
To overcome the Aggies, the Warriors will rely on sophomore quarterback Colt Brennan, who has completed 268-of-389 passes for 3,186 yards and 25 touchdowns so far this season.
“Obviously we’ve got to beat that team,” said Brennan. “Their defense is their backbone, and that’s what’s really going to be the strong point; breaking that defense down.”
Brennan’s main target is freshman Davone Bess, who secured 12 catches for a career-high 171 yards and a touchdown during last week’s loss to Nevada.
“Everybody is still trying to get over our loss but we just need to not let that affect us,” Bess said. “I’m trying to push others as well as myself not to give up. We just can’t hang our heads.”
Aggies defensive end John Chick said the Brennan-Bess duo is a threat the team is ready to take up.
“We expect to see a lot of passes, and we are prepared for that,” said Chick, who leads the Aggies with 8.5 sacks. “These are two teams that believe they should have been in the bowl but lost. It’s going to be a battle to prove who’s best.”
Guy, who debuted as the Aggies head coach this season after coordinating Arizona State’s defense for four years, said the goal is to put extra pressure on Brennan while avoiding costly errors.
“You can’t give him the time to throw it all day because he’ll find the place to put it,” said Guy. “And we’ve got to start correcting some of the same mistakes that keep creeping up. We have to be mistake free as far as turnovers go.”