Warriors head for the swamp

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai‘i Warrior football team left for Gainesville, Fla., yesterday, for its season-opener against No. 5 Florida, on Saturday. It will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs and marks Greg McMackin’s debut as Hawai‘i’s head coach.

During McMackin’s two seasons as defensive coordinator in 1999 and again last year, the Warriors captured the Western Athletic Conference title and statistically ranked as one of the best defensive units in the nation.

An assistant for most of his coaching career, McMackin begins his first year as a Football Bowl Subdivision head coach. He spent four years as head coach of NAIA’s Oregon Tech from 1986-89.

The Warriors are coming off a 12-1 campaign that saw them participate in the school’s first Bowl Championship Series game against Georgia in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

UH finished the regular season as the nation’s only undefeated team before suffering a 41-10 loss to the Bulldogs.

The Gators completed the 2007 season with a 9-4 record culminating in a 41-35 loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl. Quarterback Tim Tebow is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner beating out Arkansas’ Darren McFadden and former UH signal caller Colt Brennan, who finished third in the final vote.

The game will mark the second time in the last three years that the Warriors open the season on the road against a Southeastern Conference team after UH opened the 2006 campaign at Alabama (UH lost 25-17).

This is also the furthest east the Warriors have traveled since traveling to New Jersey for a game against Rutgers in 1975.

With a 6:30 a.m. Hawai‘i time start, he game will be broadcast on TV on Digital channel 255 on Pay-Per-View, on the radio on ESPN Honolulu’s 1420 AM radio and also streamed live on espn1420am.com

J.J.’s Broiler in Lihu‘e will have the game on its screens and will open at 6 a.m. for breakfast.

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