First impression isn’t the last in coaching business

Making a great debut isn’t bad, but let’s remember that football, like every other sport, is a marathon, and winning has a tendency to bandage up flaws.

A new coach to a program is similar to a backup quarterback. They can’t do anything wrong until they do.

No doubt, University of Hawai‘i football coach Todd Graham made a sensational debut because his Rainbow Warriors won convincingly against a young, inexperienced and less-talented Fresno State Bulldogs’ team than they are used to fielding.

Being a leader in anything is strange when things go well. You get all of the credit for making it happen. And when they don’t, you get all of the blame from your critics.

Whether it’s fair or not is inconsequential, especially when you are on trial in the court of public opinion.

So the Rainbow Warriors won their season road debut at Fresno State, a place traditionally difficult to win.

Listening to the fans on ESPN radio Honolulu, you could tell the jubilation of winning the first game clouded their judgment on Graham’s performance.

Yes, Graham and his coaching staff called an excellent ball game, being able to wear down the weak front line of the Bulldogs.

This was the Rainbow Warriors’ second victory over the Bulldogs in the last 10 meetings, but it’s hard to classify this victory as an upset.

UH accumulated 323 yards on the ground Saturday, the most they’ve amassed in a single game in four seasons.

The Rainbow Warriors have some emerging weapons in their arsenal, including quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, who amassed 345 yards of total offense including 109 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns.

Let’s not forget Calvin Turner, who transferred from Jacksonville State to carry the ball eight times for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

It was a great debut for so many Rainbow Warriors’ players, and including their coach. Unfortunately, you are only as good as your last game, and now Hawai‘i will be moving on to take on the University of Wyoming, Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen’s alma mater.

It is easy to agree with the fans on the radio that Graham did a great job calling the game. But let’s see how things play out.

For as many plays as UH did right, there was a lot they also did wrong.

The offensive line gave up four sacks in the first half, and Hawai‘i had two fumbles on kickoff returns, one that Fresno State recovered to set up the opening score of the game.

There are a lot of things UH will have to clean up if they want to get to 2-0 and overhaul the Cowboys in what is expected to be only fair conditions by Wyoming’s standards.

Around the time the game kicks off, the temperature is expected to be in the low 30s, and is predicted to drop into the 20s towards the end of the game.

Luckily, the wind won’t be much of a factor in Lamarie, Wyoming, but it isn’t Fresno or Honolulu conditions.

Back to Graham. He gives the university a lot to be excited about after they lost Nick Rolovich to a big bag of dough, a $3 million-a-year contractual agreement to coach the Washington State Cougars to be exact.

Just remember, in football memories are shorter than the honeymoon period of a newly-appointed coach. The Rainbow faithful will sing his praise this week, and hate his guts the next.

The roller-coaster ride of college football is always turbulent, and if you are winning, the beat goes on.

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Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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