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UH faces familiar foe to open MWC era

Wolf Pack lost all six road meetings with Warriors while in WAC

September 18, 2012
The Maui News

The University of Hawaii football team's next game will be something new - its first Mountain West Conference contest.

Plenty will be familiar, though, starting with the Warriors' opponent.

Hawaii (1-1) will face Nevada (2-1) on Saturday at Aloha Stadium, continuing a series that for the previous 12 years had the teams meeting as Western Athletic Conference opponents.

Norm Chow, in his debut season as the Warriors' coach, might not have firsthand experience with the rivalry, but knows Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault - "We go way back," Chow said Monday in a news conference posted on the UH athletics website.

Ault is in his 28th season as Nevada's coach. During the team's days in the WAC, the Warriors won seven of 12 meetings, including all six on Oahu.

In all, UH has won seven straight home games against Nevada - the Wolf Pack's last win at Hawaii was in 1948.

"It's difficult playing on the road anyplace - Hawaii, Cal, you name it. It doesn't matter," Ault said on the Nevada website.

"Most teams, they have good home records, and Hawaii's one of them. We've been over there, we've had opportunities to win and didn't find a way to close it out."

The Wolf Pack's offensive coordinator is Nick Rolovich, who held the same position with the Warriors for the previous two years after two seasons coaching the team's quarterbacks - the position he played at UH in 2000 and 2001.

"He can tell us how they come out, how they bring their energy," said Nevada running back Stefphon Jefferson, whose average of 176.3 rushing yards per game is second in the Bowl Subdivision, behind only UCLA's Johnathan Franklin (180.3).

The Wolf Pack are averaging 551.3 total yards this season, ninth-best in the nation.

"It was hopeful that we could keep Nick and really maybe I strung him along too long," Chow said. "And I mean this sincerely; Nick probably needed to go, for his own professional growth."

Cody Fajardo, the quarterback in the Wolf Pack's "pistol" offense, has completed 73 of 103 passes for 738 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, and has run for 349 yards and six touchdowns on 54 carries.

"It's tough because they stand right behind the quarterback," Chow said.

"When you stand right behind the quarterback you don't see 'em right away and that's the whole idea. He can go either way and it causes that little bit of hesitation and basically what it is, is the option offense."

The Warriors are allowing an average of 62.5 rushing yards per game, 11th in the nation, but defensive lineman Moses Samia is "probably done for the year" after suffering a reported knee injury in Saturday's win over Lamar, Chow said.

"It's a tough one for us but it's part of this crazy game we play, those guys are so big and strong," Chow said. "We need to close ranks and keep marching, there's nothing else you can do. We feel very sorry for him; he's devastated by it all."



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