High-Powered Hawai'i Heads to La. Tech
A season ago No. 20/22 Hawai'i put up 61 points against Louisiana Tech, the nation's 116th ranked defense against the pass. Colt Brennan is one touchdown toss away from touchdown pass No. 100, tying Chad Pennington on the NCAA's career list, but a revamped Bulldog defense aims to limit the nation's most prolific passer's numbers Saturday.
Logic says Brennan should match and surpass Pennington's career total before halftime -- after all, the UH Heisman Trophy candidate has 19 consecutive multiple touchdown games under his belt. However, if there's anything a game in Ann Arbor last Saturday taught us, it's that logic and college football aren't always on the same wavelength.
"I don't need to say much about Hawai'i," first year La. Tech head coach Derek Dooley said. "Everybody knows what a challenge it's going to be for our team -- No. 1 offense in the country, Heisman Trophy candidate, all their receivers back, great football coach [June Jones]."
Louisiana Tech has some defensive momentum heading into Saturday, coming off a 28-7 win over Central Arkansas. Cornerback Tony Moss led the way, picking off three passes.
"Colt Brennan's a wonderful quarterback," Moss said at Monday's La. Tech press conference. "The biggest thing is to go out there and play our game, not conform to their game."
That's certainly easier said than done against an offense that went to the air for well over 500 yards last week, and abused the Bulldogs to the tune of 618 total yards a season ago.
"A lot of guys are not happy about the score [last season], so a lot of working is being put in this year to take care of business," Moss said.
"Business," according to Dooley, isn't trying to keep Hawai'i off the scoreboard, but rather turning its red zone trips into three-point ventures rather than six.
"I don't think anyone's ever stopped them," Dooley said. "We need to play good in the red zone. They're going to move the ball. If we hunker down in the red zone and hold them to field goals, it keeps you in the football game.
"We've got to find a way to slow them down. That starts with getting to the quarterback."
While last season's match-up in Honolulu and avenging that lopsided defeat is a motivator for players like Moss, watching the 2005 game film might provide more inspiration. That was the last time these two faced in Ruston, and La. Tech slowed the UH offense to 14 points. Brennan was held to one touchdown pass and a modest (for him) 235 yards.
Of course, that 5-6 Warrior team doesn't look much like this bunch coming off an 11-win campaign, and Dooley realizes that. The Bulldog coach summed up the task of trying to slow Hawai'i's offense:
"Sometimes you look it and wonder...if you can petition the commissioner to play with 12 guys, because no one's been able to stop them with 11."