Gone are June Jones and Colt Brennan but the high scoring Hawaii Warrior 'Run n Gun' offense is alive and well thank you very much as the Hawai'i Warriors meet the Broncos on the blue today for another nationally televised ESPN game, this time led by Hawai'i head coach Greg McMackin and quarterback Bryant Moniz.
Last year on the Islands the Broncos embarrassed the Warriors with a 54-9 trouncing of a Hawai'i team that struggled all season under McMackin's second year as head man. But what a difference a year makes. The Warriors picked to finish near the bottom of the conference this season has surprised everyone and with a win today against Boise could all but sew up a WAC Championship, but in order for that to happen they would have to do what no other WAC team has been able to do ... beat the Broncos on the blue.
So with a WAC Championship on the line and the chance for the Warriors to be the first WAC team to beat the Broncos on the blue as they part conference ways lets get some expert insight into today's great conference rivalry between the Warriors and the Broncos as well as their opinion on the past weeks current affairs in Bronco Nation. Participating in today's Roundtable are Phil Dailey, former sports editor of the Idaho Press-Tribune, Will Hoenike, former sports anchor for KIVI Channel 6 here in Boise and Joe Hughes former sports director at KIVI Channel 6.. Blue Turf would like to thank all three for sharing their time and expertise with us.
Blue Turf ~ Again we see a team pass Boise State in the BCS poll, this time by TCU, a team the Broncos defeated in last years Fiesta Bowl. What are your thought on this? Do you think the jump was justified?
Will Hoenike ~ I think that the fact BSU won last year shouldn't really matter at all. Throw all the "same players, same coaches" stuff aside. That BSU win happened ten months ago. It's history. Over. Done. Put it in the past where it belongs. As for whether or not the jump was justified, I don't have that strong of an opinion. Both are great programs having great seasons ... but it's only November 6. Chris Petersen is absolutely right - no one ever remembers who was no. 1 in week eight.
Phil Dailey ~ I've said it before and I'll say it again, the BCS is a joke and is really not able to determine who should play for the national title. With that said, I'm not too surprised that TCU jumped the Broncos. TCU is a great team and has won some impressive games - Oregon State and Baylor - but Boise State has quality wins also against the Beavers and Virginia Tech. I suspect Boise State will be ahead of them at the end of the season, but that may not mean much since No. 3 isn't going to play for the national championship.
Joe Hughes ~ I have mixed feelings about this, because when I saw how close TCU was in the BCS standings, I felt it was inevitable if they kept winning, which they have. The frustrating part for Bronco fans everywhere, is not only do they have to pull for their team to win to stay in the BCS picture, they have to pull for other select teams to lose as well, just to hold their standing in the polls and the BCS rankings. It just doesn't seem fair that if Oregon wins out, they know they'll be in the BCS title game, or if Auburn wins out, there's no doubt they'll be in the BCS title game. But not so for Boise State . Bronco fans are continually breaking their necks looking over their shoulder for the next team that's going to pass them. But that's what happens with a BCS formula when you don't have a playoff.
As for whether the jump by TCU was justified, TCU hasn't played any better than the Broncos. Yet they still jump Boise State .
Blue Turf ~ Last Tuesday against La Tech the Broncos seemed to struggle at times with missed tackles, fumbles, a rare Kellen Moore interception and a sack while the Bulldogs had success moving the ball against the top ranked Boise State defense. What would you attribute this to? A rapidly improving La Tech team? An off night by the Broncos trying to stay focused against a WAC opponent? Cold weather and a Tuesday night game?
Will ~ I attribute it to it being a game played by a bunch of 18-19-20-21-22 year old players. Louisiana Tech clearly showed up ready to play - a credit to its coaching staff and players - and Boise State didn't play its best game. With that said, it still wound up being a four-touchdown win for the Broncos. And yet here we are ... critiquing it, asking what was wrong with the Broncos. I'll give credit to Louisiana Tech for playing its collective tail off. And I'll also give credit to Boise State for making sure that game didn't get more interesting than it needed to be.
Phil ~ I think some of La. Tech's success was attributed to Boise State sleepwalking a bit. It's gotta be tough to get up for a game on Tuesday, especially one that's against a team like La. Tech. The Bulldogs are decent, but the lackluster performance by Boise State, which "only" won by 29 points, isn't going to cause too much concern.
Joe ~ I think La Tech is getting better. When I saw them move the ball at will against Idaho , I felt they would have some moderate success against Boise State . The Broncos are not going to be perfect every game, and they will struggle like any team that puts 19-to-23-year olds out on the field. Bottom line, they won he game, and still won by a significant margin. Even when they gave up a late touchdown with the third-string in the game.
Blue Turf ~ Boise State faces the first of a tough four game stretch with Hawaii today followed by a road trip to Idaho next week to play for the Governor's Cup, back home to face Fresno State in the annual Milk Can rivalry and finally to Reno to face a ranked Nevada team in possibly the biggest game in both schools history. Four very tough emotional games against four teams all with winning records. Is the WAC under rated?
Will ~ No. I think the WAC is what it has always been. A couple really good programs, a couple pretty good programs, and a whole lot of Forrest Gump-esque "ya never know what you're gonna get" programs that may look solid one week and horrendous the next. Or, in some cases, terrible one week and even-worse the next.
Phil ~ I would say the WAC is better this year than it has been in some time. Boise State is the class of the league, followed by Hawaii, Nevada and Fresno State. Idaho, however, is not as good as it was last year. The bottom feeders of San Jose State and New Mexico State are awful. If you had to rank the WAC, it's still the second best mid-major conference behind the Mountain West.
Joe ~ This is a great part of the schedule. It appears the Broncos have quality opponents each game. Even with Idaho having the worst record of the three, it still has the emotion of the rivalry game and the game is in Moscow . This is the best four game stretch in the WAC. But you would still have a hard time getting an SEC fan excited about it.
Blue Turf ~ Several Boise state records have already fallen this season and a few more will probably be tied or broken today. The Broncos have won 21 in a row just one shy of the school record 22, Kellen Moore's next touchdown pass will break Bart Hendrick's school record and Austin Pettis' second reception will break a 38 year school record. Is this the Best Boise State team ever? Or is it still too early to say?
Will ~ Hard to argue it based on the results this team has achieved thus far. But I also think people need to remember some of the great players of years past - guys like Bart Hendricks, Bobby Setzer, Brock Forsey, Quintin Mikell, Shaunard Harts, etc - who did a lot of the heavy lifting to really get this engine rolling. The current stars you mention are reaping a lot of rewards based on the hard work done by some of those teams a decade ago.
Phil ~ There is no question this year's team is darn good, but hailing them as the best ever may be a bit premature. I still think last season's team was the best ever, followed by the 2006 team that beat Oklahoma. We'll have to wait and see how the season plays out to determine the 2010 Broncos' team in the history books. These guys very well be the best ever, but let's wait another two months and see what happens.
Joe ~ IF somehow, the Broncos were to stub their toe against Nevada or perhaps Hawaii this week, it would be a difficult argument to call it the best Boise State team ever. If they don't go undefeated, then you can't put them on the same pedestal as the other undefeated Fiesta Bowl winning teams. Get through the season undefeated, and then we can talk.
Blue Turf ~ What do you see as the Keys to today's game? What do the Warriors have to do to be the first WAC team to beat the Broncos who are 37-0 in WAC play on the blue? What do the Broncos need to do to continue their quest for the WAC Championship?
Will ~ Hawai'i's best hope lies in the fact that its strength (passing) takes advantage of the one weakness BSU has shown from time to time (pass coverage). If Boise State's defensive front can keep Bryant Moniz from getting comfortable in the pocket, no worries. But if Hawai'i's offensive line can give Moniz time to survey the field, this could be a crazy one. This game has also gotten a TON of hype on the islands ... we know how the BSU players react to the hype. How will the Warrior players respond? Can they tune it out and play a smart, efficient game?
Phil ~ Unlike last week, Boise State will be ready to play. It's a Saturday game and yet another one on national TV. The Broncos have seen better Hawaii teams than this one, but these guys are pretty good. Quarterback Bryant Moniz is legit and wide receiver Greg Salas will be in the NFL next season.
The offense is good, but that won't be enough to beat the Broncos on The Blue. In the end, Boise State's defensive line is going to key, it is able to get to Moniz, then Boise State will be in good shape, if not, look for a high-scoring game.
Joe ~ I'm actually a little bummed that the weather is going to be nice. It would be perfect to welcome Hawaii to a snow-covered Bronco stadium and see how they perform. That being said, the other factor of being on the road is the crowd. It would be nice to see the fans show up extra-loud after the last home performance, a meager effort on the Tuesday night that wasn't even a sellout. Key to the game, get the crowd involved early. How about some REAL noise for Hawaii on third down situations? Those types of things will throw Hawaii off its game. A good fast start offensively and defensively for Boise State give the fans plenty to cheer about.
If the Warriors get on top early and take the fans out of the game, it could be a long day. I just don't see that happening. Warriors have not played well in Boise , and I'm not sure this is the team to truly break that string.
Blue Turf ~ Final score?
Will ~ I think Boise State wins, but I don't think it'll be a repeat of a few years ago when Timmy Chang stared across the field, dazed and confused, at a scoreboard that read Boise State 69, Hawai'i 3. This Warrior team has better offensive balance, but I don't think it's going to matter. Let's say something in the neighborhood of 45-28, Boise State.
Phil ~ Boise State defense is too much and Hawaii's defense is not enough. Boise State 51, Hawaii 24.
Joe ~ Broncos 45, Warriors 17