In terms of football analysis, it’s always easy to start playing the woulda, coulda, shoulda game. If this had just happened, if only that had happened. But as the great luminary Dwight Schrute once said, “If onlys and justs were candies and nuts, then everyday would be Erntedankfest.”
Sadly, everyday is not Erntedankfest.
The much more revealing and appropriate quote was most notably uttered by Bill Parcells when he said “You are what your record says you are.”
So it does no good to sit here and say that Hawaii (4-5, 3-2 Mountain West) could actually be 6-3 and 5-0 in conference play if only this or only that had occurred. This didn’t occur and neither did that.
But the Rainbow Warriors are still in the mix for the MWC West division, though they will need to start getting better at taking care of the football. Late miscues have cost them games against UNLV and, now, New Mexico.
This time, the culprit wasn’t quarterback Dru Brown. It was running back Diocemy Saint Juste losing possession, which was scooped up by New Mexico and returned for what would prove to be the game-winning score.
Through nine games, Hawaii has fumbled 16 times. They have managed to recover half of those, but they are essentially handing one possession per game to their opponent. In their three previous conference games, one possession has been the difference every time.
Just as alarming as the unforced errors is the fact that home field has been somewhat nullified. Both of Hawaii’s conference losses have come in Aloha Stadium. They’ve had opportunities to win both times, but take a look at the first paragraph again. Opportunities are only important if taken advantage of.
The ‘Bows now have their biggest game of the year this Saturday when they head back to the Mainland to take on San Diego State. The Aztecs are the division’s top team and remain unbeaten in conference at 4-0. But one win for Hawaii would pull them back to within just a half-game of first place.
Each facet of Hawaii’s game has been solid and no one unit can be overly criticized or overly praised. In games when the defense has had trouble stopping the opponent, the offense has kept pace and put up a lot of points. When the offense has had trouble early, the defense has kept the score in check and allowed the offense an opportunity to remain within striking distance.
But those untimely turnovers are the difference to this point. They have seemed to come out of nowhere and at the worst possible moments. Coach Nick Rolovich has made all the right moves and has had his team ready to play every week. There haven’t been tactical mistakes, it’s simply been the most common utterance in the game: Hold on to the ball.
If they do that, they have a chance to get back in the mix this week. If not, well, the onlys and justs will continue to pile up.
‘My Thoughts Exactly’ appears Sundays and Wednesdays and in The Garden Island. Email David Simon your comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow David on Twitter@SimonTGI