Hawaii Bowl Preview: Tulsa vs. Hawaii

Guest Post by Yoshito Tsuji, Edited by Susan Shan

For the Hawaii Warriors (10-3, No. 24 AP, No. 25 USA Today) and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9-3), the 2010 college football season was a chance for both programs to turn in winning seasons after subpar 2009 seasons in which the Warriors finished 6-7 while the Hurricane finished 5-7.

The Warriors and Hurricane have gone to five bowl games each since 2003, and will square off in their sixth in the 2010 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (8pm EST, ESPN).

The Hurricane are led by junior quarterback G.J. Kinne, who is in his second year at Tulsa after transferring from Texas. This year, Kinne threw for 3,307 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions; the Hurricane were 8-1 when Kinne threw at least two touchdown passes. Kinne’s excellent play has led to six straight victories as Tulsa has not lost since dropping a 21-18 thriller to SMU on October 9th.

Kinne’s two main targets are second-team All-American all-purpose performer Damaris Johnson (53 receptions, 771 yards) and Charles Clay (41 receptions, 488 yards); however, six other receivers have at least 200 yards receiving. It is clear that Kinne’s favorite receiver is the one who is open on any given play.

The Hurricane running game is similar to that of its aerial attack as four players have at least 300 yards rushing, including Kinne (388 yards, seven touchdowns), Damaris Johnson (443 yards, six touchdowns), Alex Singleton (380 yards, nine touchdowns), and Ja’Terian Douglas (323 yards, three touchdowns). It will be difficult for the Warriors to game plan for one individual runner given the depth of players Tulsa has at its disposal.

On the other side of the field, the Hawaii Warriors will get to showcase their explosive offense. The Warriors’ No. 1 passing attack is led by junior Bryant Moniz (4,629 yards, 36 touchdowns, 11 interceptions). Moniz is one of the few collegiate quarterbacks who can add “Pizza Delivery Man” to his resume. Although he has quit delivering pies, he has not quit serving up touchdown passes to his receivers.

Moniz’s main targets are third-team All-American wide receiver Greg Salas (1,675 yards, 12 touchdowns) and Kealoha Pilares (1,306 yards, 15 touchdowns). Receivers Royce Pollard (772 yards, six touchdowns), Rodney Bradley (511 yards, one touchdown), and Billy Ray Stutzmann (107 yards, one touchdown) will also see playing time in Hawaii’s four-receiver sets in the run-and-shoot offense.

The Warriors have experienced several surprises during the 2010 season. The first was the play of running back Alex Green (1,135 yards, 17 touchdowns). Green has come on strong during the Warriors’ past two games, running for 460 yards and four touchdowns.

The other surprise has been the Warrior defense. The Warriors are ranked second behind the Virginia Tech Hokies in creating turnovers and rank first with the most interceptions in college football. The Warriors’ defense has undergone a vast improvement since a porous outing against USC in the home opener in which they suffered a 49-36 loss. First-year defensive coordinator Dave Aranda should be commended for his work with this unit.

This matchup should be an exciting, high-scoring affair. Tulsa’s spread offense combined with Hawaii’s run-and-shoot will surely light up the scoreboard and entertain fans across the country with numerous touchdowns and big plays.

The Warriors will have a major advantage playing at home, but will need to bring their best effort if they hope to stop Kinne and the Hurricane offense. Look for the Warriors to come out on top for an early Christmas present.

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