Hawaii football team embraces Reno's fickle weather

·3 min read

Oct. 16—RENO, Nev. — The rule of the desert is it is hot until it is not.

It is why the University of Hawaii football team sweated through Friday's midday practice at Bishop Manogue Catholic High School, then were told to brace for chilly conditions for tonight's nationally televised game against Nevada at Mackay Stadium.

Earlier in the week, UH defensive end Jonah Laulu dismissed the predicted low-40s temperature as "AC weather."

"It's supposed to be tough weather ?" UH coach Todd Graham scoffed. "It doesn't really matter. Rain, sleet, snow. You've got to be mentally tough. People who talk about all those things, it's because you live your life how you feel. When you're a father, what do you do ? Cancel work or cancel being a father because it's cold or it's raining or it's wet ? No, you get off your butt and you go at it, right ? Bring it on. Driving snow storm, rain storm, no excuses. It shows you're fragile if you (worry about that )."

Graham indicated he has had enough of the woe-is-me gloomsters.

"One of the things I've heard so much, 'Oh, gosh, you've got to play Wyoming in November, '" Graham said. "So what ? I don't understand that. What an opportunity. I actually love that about football. I'm an old-school guy. I don't even like indoor stadiums. I think they should be illegal. I think you should play in God's elements. I liked Texas Stadium in Dallas because it had a hole in (the roof ). You still got the weather."

Of concern to Graham is Nevada's prolific aerial attack (357.0 passing yards per game ) and a defense that entered the week with an FBS-leading 22 sacks in five games. Carson Strong has thrown for 1, 595 yards on 69.3 % accuracy. Saint Louis School graduate Tristan Nichols leads the Wolf Pack with six sacks.

In 2016, Jay Norvell was Graham's pass-game coordinator at Arizona State. The following year, Nevada hired Norvell as head coach. Norvell, offensive coordinator Matt Mumme and receivers coach Tim Chang have crafted their version of the Air Raid offense that relies on quick tosses and grinding running backs. Mumme's father, Hal, was co-creator of the Air Raid. Chang was a record-setting Rainbow Warrior quarterback.

"Jay is one of the best football coaches, and a better person, " Graham said. "He's one of the best I've ever worked with."

When Norvell was assembling a staff at Nevada, he reached out to Graham, who recommended Brian Ward for defensive coordinator. Graham and Ward have been friends for several years. Ward and Jackie Shipp, who coaches the Pack's defensive ends, built a defensive system designed to harass opposing quarterbacks.

The Warriors used last week's bye for a two-phased preparation. After upsetting Fresno State on Oct. 2, the Warriors stressed working on fundamentals for the ensuing practices. This week, they went through specific strategies.

"I feel a lot better than I have any other week this season, " receiver /back Calvin Turner said of the bye week. "We took a toll off our legs and our bodies last week to prepare for this weekend, I feel a lot more people are fresh and a lot more people are feeling a lot better."

The Warriors will get a defensive boost with safety Chima Azunna's return to full health. Azunna should be helpful in Graham's quest to prevent big-yardage plays.

Graham said the Warriors cannot rest on the victory over Fresno State nor beating Nevada the previous two years.

"Look out the windshield and not the rearview mirror, " Graham said. "It doesn't matter what you've done up to this point. You've got to figure out a way to win this week. There's not a team on our schedule we can't play with or beat. And there's not a team on our schedule that can't beat us. That's what makes it difficult."—For more Hawaii football, visit the.

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