NCF Nation: Greg Salas

Post-spring Power Rankings

May, 10, 2011
1. Boise State: The Broncos have Kellen Moore back, and that makes them a preseason top 10 team going into the season. Geraldo Hiwat, Tyler Shoemaker and Kirby Moore had good springs, helping ease some questions about the receiver situation.

2. TCU: The Horned Frogs are at the point where they don't rebuild. They reload. They move ahead of BYU based on their defense. I am still uncertain about how Casey Pachall will do at QB. Andy Dalton lost five games in his first year as a starter, though the TCU defense in 2007 was not as good as what is expected in 2011.

3. BYU: The Cougars might be overhyped, but I really do think they are back to being a top 25 team this year. They return 19 starters from a team that found itself at the end of last season. The independent schedule may appear tough, but every game is winnable.

4. Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane return 16 starters off one of the best offenses in the country. Though there is a new coach and new offensive coordinator in place, there is opportunity to pick up where they left off last season because of the continuity in hiring Bill Blankenship as the head man.

5. Houston: With Case Keenum back, the Cougars jump back into the rankings. This team was lost without him last year. Now that he has returned, expect the offense to be high-powered again. If the defense improves, Houston could make some noise.

6. San Diego State: The Aztecs lost coach Brady Hoke and their top receivers in Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson. But Ronnie Hillman, Ryan Lindley and Miles Burris return in the highly competitive Mountain West.

7. Air Force: The Falcons could be a dark horse contender in the Mountain West with Tim Jefferson returning at quarterback.

8. UCF: Just because the Knights ended the season ranked in the top 25 doesn't mean they will start the season there. UCF has question marks, though the return of quarterback Jeff Godfrey makes the Knights the favorite to repeat as C-USA East champs.

9. Hawaii: The WAC is open, and though Hawaii loses a lot of starters, including Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares, it is the only team of the top three that returns a starting quarterback.

10. Northern Illinois: The Huskies replace Miami (Ohio) in my rankings thanks to the return of Chandler Harnish and the performance of the running backs in the spring game. Miami's continued quarterback derby gives me pause.

Hawaii spring wrap

May, 10, 2011
2010 overall record: 10-4

2010 conference record: 7-1 WAC (co-champs)

Returning starters

Offense 3, defense 6, punter/kicker 1

Top returners

QB Bryant Moniz, LB Corey Paredes, WR Royce Pollard

Key losses

WR Greg Salas, WR Kealoha Pilares, FS Mana Silva, RB Alex Green

2010 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Green (1,199 yards, 18 TDs)

Passing: Moniz* (361-of-555 for 5,040 yards, 39 TDs, 15 INTs)

Receiving: Salas (1,889 yards, 14 TDs)

Tackles: Paredes* (151)

Sacks: Aaron Brown*, Paipai Falemalu* (five each)

Interceptions: Silva (eight)

Spring Answers

1. Talent at receiver. There are plenty of candidates to help fill the big shoes of Pilares and Salas. Jeremiah Ostrowski and Billy Ray Stutzmann appear to be the front-runners to replace them with Corey Paclebar, Justin Clapp and Donnie King Jr. in the mix as well. Allen Sampson could be a playmaker at wideout, too.

2. Hadden at kicker. Redshirt freshman Tyler Hadden emerged as the front-runner to replace Scott Enos at kicker. He is going to have to step up immediately -- Enos set the single-season school record for points by a kicker with 122 and made all 105 of his extra-point attempts.

3. New hybrid end/linebacker. Many teams have gone with this hybrid position. Hawaii is calling it “elephant” and has someone in mind to play it on specific downs. Linebacker Art Laurel had a great spring, and appears to be the perfect fit at the hybrid spot. He had three sacks in the spring game.

Fall Questions

1. Revamped offensive line. The Warriors lost four starters on the offensive line, including three who started every game last season and one who had 21 career starts. It’s going to be important for that line to come together quickly to give Moniz time to throw.

2. Another 1,000 yard rusher? Hawaii is known for its passing offense, but Green surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in 2011 and notched the highest total in school history. Redshirt freshmen Joey Iosefa and John Lister are the only returning running backs on scholarship, so this could be an area where a true freshman could contribute.

3. Another 5,000-yard season for Moniz? Hawaii has some talented receivers who can step up for Pilares and Salas, but will that translate into another 5,000-yard season for Moniz? Fans have to hope the Moniz of the regular season, and not the one in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, is who they get for 2011.

Andy Dalton and the Jets?

April, 15, 2011
There has been lots of speculation headed into the NFL draft about where TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick could land.

Well, there is a bit of news concerning Dalton. Rich Cimini of reports the Jets worked out Dalton on Friday. The move may seem curious, considering the Jets have Mark Sanchez. But as Cimini writes:
Dalton is a fast-rising prospect who could slip into the bottom of the first round, according to scouts. The Jets own the 30th overall pick. While it makes no sense for them to invest another first-round pick in a quarterback, the Jets' interest in Dalton could be a way to entice quarterback-needy teams below them to trade up, increasing the value of the Jets' position.

Dalton's stock has been rising thanks to good performances during Senior Bowl week and the combine. The Vikings, Patriots, Colts and Titans, Browns and Bears have all reportedly worked Dalton out, too.

In his latest mock draft, Mel Kiper has Dalton going early in the second round, at No. 35 to the Bengals.

As for Kaepernick, his stock also has been rising. He has had workouts with at least eight teams: Oakland, Tennessee, Miami, Denver, Kansas City, Cleveland, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Scouts seem to love his arm strength (he used to be a baseball player), and he did very well on the Wonderlic with a 37, one of the highest scores of all prospects.

Kiper has him going in the third round, at No. 76 overall to San Francisco.

Among the other non-AQ players featured in Kiper's mock draft from earlier this month:

First round

Temple defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, No. 16 to the Chargers.

Second round

Nevada linebacker Dontay Moch, No. 45 to San Francisco.

UCF offensive tackle Jah Reid, No. 51to Tampa Bay.

Boise State receiver Titus Young, No. 58 to Baltimore.

Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan, No. 59 to Atlanta.

Third round

Fresno State linebacker Chris Carter, No. 72, New Orleans

Hawaii running back Alex Green, No. 78, St. Louis

TCU offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, No. 82, San Diego

Hawaii receiver Greg Salas, No. 86, Kansas City

Boise State receiver Austin Pettis, No. 95, Pittsburgh

Non-AQ Top 25 Players: No. 11

March, 7, 2011
Sure, you could say this player was the beneficiary of playing in a heavy passing offense. But did you also know he was part of the second team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver?

[+] EnlargeGreg Salas
AP Photo/Dave MartinGreg Salas led the country in receiving yards last season with 1,889.
No. 11 Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii

It is hard to turn your nose up at these stats, no matter what you think of the Hawaii offense. Salas emerged as one of the most dependable receivers in the nation the last several seasons. In 2010, he ranked No. 1 in the country in receiving yards with 1,889 -- good enough to set the school single-season record. He also ranked No. 2 in receiving yards per game with 134.93 and No. 3 in receptions per game with 8.5. In addition, Salas broke Davone Bess’ single-season record for receptions with 119. Oh, and he also became the school’s all-time leading receiver. Salas was never flashy, but he was always there. Just look at what he did in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. As his teammates struggled all around him, Salas kept playing and was the most consistent player in the game. He ended up with 214 yards receiving as the Warriors desperately tried to come back. Salas is gone in 2011, so we’ll see whether his replacement will be able to put up the same type of season.

No. 12 Jeremy Kerley, WR/KR/PR, TCU

No. 13 Vai Taua, RB, Nevada

No. 14 Titus Young, WR, Boise State

No. 15 Bryant Moniz, QB, Hawaii

No. 16 Dontay Moch, DE, Nevada

No. 17 Dwayne Harris, WR/KR, East Carolina

No. 18 Chad Spann, RB, Northern Illinois

No. 19 Reggie Rembert, CB, Air Force

No. 20 T.Y. Hilton, WR/KR, FIU

No. 21 Eric Page, WR/KR, Toledo

No. 22 Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU

No. 23 Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

No. 24 Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky

No. 25 Roosevelt Nix, DT, Kent State

Non-AQs in Senior Bowl

January, 26, 2011
Time for your daily update on how some of the top players from the non-AQ conferences are doing at the Senior Bowl.

You need an Insider subscription to read most of this, but you can watch this Todd McShay video on the performance of several quarterbacks in Mobile, Ala. One he spotlighted who has done well for himself: Andy Dalton of TCU.

As for players who stood out on Day 2, the Scouts Inc. crew of McShay, Kevin Weidl and Steve Muench had plenty to say on their blog and daily wrap-up. McShay cited Dalton and Boise State receiver Titus Young as the top performers of the day.

McShay on Young: "He's not overly big but he's the quickest wide receiver on the North team. He is really quick off the line, and gets in and out of his breaks. He also is snatching the ball on the run and getting upfield in a hurry, which he needs to continue to do as it will be a big part of his game at the next level. What gives him a chance to be an impact player is his open-field running ability both as a receiver and potentially as a punt returner."

McShay on Dalton: "The more you watch him, the more you see him do all the little things that are so important to the quarterback position. He doesn't have the big size, strong arm or great athleticism, but he's doing a really good job. He's a sponge. He's always around the QB coaches or offensive coaches, always asking questions, always talking, always engaged."

Other players noted in the Day 2 blog: Hawaii receiver Greg Salas, who had an up-and-down day; TCU all-purpose player Jeremy Kerley had a good day; and Marshall TE Lee Smith is noted for his big body.

Top non-AQ players, offense

January, 24, 2011
Wanted to give you a quick rundown of the top non-AQ players in the final NCAA statistics for offense. Many of these players will be back for 2011, but many will be gone.

First let us take a look at rushing. Four non-AQ players finished in the Top 10 in yards per game:

No. 3 Bobby Rainey, Western Kentucky (137.4)

No. 6 Lance Dunbar, North Texas (129.4)

No. 7 Vai Taua, Nevada (123.85)

No. 10 Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State (117.9)

Taua is the only player who does not return next season. Hillman was a true freshman and many expect him to have an even better season. Rainey and Dunbar will both be seniors and vying once again to be the best running back in the Sun Belt. With Dunbar, it will be interesting to see how he fairs under new coach Dan McCarney, though offensive coordinator Mike Canales remains onboard. Rainey carried the ball a nation-leading 340 times last season. Can he handle another strenuous workload in 2011?

At quarterback, seven of the top 11 players in total passing yards were non-AQ players:

No. 1 Bryant Moniz, Hawaii, 5,040 yards

No. 4. Dominique Davis, East Carolina, 3,967

No. 6 Kellen Moore, Boise State, 3,845

No. 7 Ryan Lindley, San Diego State, 3,830

No. 8 Kyle Padron, SMU, 3,828

t. No. 9 Corey Robinson, Troy, 3,726

No. 11. G.J. Kinne, Tulsa, 3,650

I stretched this list all the way to 11 to show the depth of quality quarterbacks among the non-AQs. Although big-name players like Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick are gone, every player on this list returns to school next season, which means non-AQ quarterbacks will definitely be ones to watch again. But what is interesting is their receiver situation. Everybody but Kinne is losing his leading receiver. In the case of Moore, he loses two in Austin Pettis and Titus Young. Moniz loses Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares, and Lindley loses DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown.

At receiver, seven of the top 100 players in total yards also came from non-AQ schools:

No. 1 Salas, 1,889 yards

No. 5 Jordan White, Western Michigan, 1,378

No. 6 Brown, 1,352

No. 7 Pilares, 1,306

No. 8 Aldrick Robinson, SMU, 1,301

10. Sampson, 1,220

11. Young, 1,215

Ssix of these players are definitely done with their college careers. The one up in the air is White, who is petitioning the NCAA for a medical hardship waiver and sixth season of eligibility. White had serious injuries to both his knees and sat out 2006 and 2008, so it seems likely his waiver will be granted. He set the school record for receiving yards in 2010.

Non-AQ storylines in Senior Bowl

January, 24, 2011
Todd McShay listed his top storylines for the Senior Bowl Insider, set for Saturday in Mobile, Ala. The week kicks off today, with 100 prospects vying for the attention of NFL scouts, general managers and coaches.

Here are a few of the non-AQ storylines I am going to be following:

1. Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick. Two of the most underrated quarterbacks in college football get a chance to prove themselves in the senior showcase event. McShay says this of Dalton: "Dalton is one of the more underrated quarterback prospects in the class and this is a good opportunity to show NFL teams that he is capable of scanning the field and making all the necessary throws from within the pocket." And of Kaepernick: "Like Dalton, needs to look fluid dropping from under center and needs to make sound decisions."

Both quarterbacks were the unquestioned leaders of their teams and have the intangibles necessary to play quarterback. Dalton won 44 career games -- and went 25-1 over his last two seasons. Kaepernick guided Nevada to its best season this past year at 12-1 and became a master of the Pistol. Dalton would appear to be the most "NFL ready" of the two. The bigger questions surround Kaepernick, simply because he ran an offense that is completely different than what he will be asked to do in the NFL. McShay is right in that he is going to have to start taking snaps from under center -- remember that was a big question that hounded Tim Tebow at this time last season. But his athleticism, and improved passing, should make him somebody worth looking at on the next level.

2. Receiver competition. Plenty of big-time non-AQ players at receiver in this game. You have Austin Pettis and Titus Young from Boise State, Greg Salas from Hawaii, Vincent Brown from San Diego State and Dwayne Harris from East Carolina. Of that group, Pettis and Young are the most well known nationally. Young has incredible speed but is slightly undersized at 5-11. Harris has tremendous versatility. Pettis is as sure handed a receiver as you will find, though his speed may be called into question. Salas racked up the stats in the pass-happy Hawaii offense but could be labeled a "system guy." I am looking forward to seeing how they all do.

3. All-purpose players. Jeremy Kerley has had a tremendous career at TCU as one of the top all-purpose players in the country. So has Harris. It will be interesting to see how their skills translate into the next level. Kerley is small, at 5-foot-10, but he could make an immediate impact on special teams returning kicks. One player missing from this group who was scheduled to play in the game -- Troy's Jerrel Jernigan, who is out with a high ankle sprain. He hopes to be healthy for the NFL combine next month.

Here are other non-AQ players in the game:

Tulsa RB Charles Clay

TCU C Jake Kirkpatrick

Temple DB Jaiquawn Jarrett

Toledo OL Kevin Kowalski

Marshall TE Lee Smith

2010 non-AQ All-Bowl team

January, 14, 2011
Our final look at the 2010-11 bowl season leaves us with the non-AQ all bowl team:


[+] EnlargeCorey Robinson
AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyTroy quarterback Corey Robinson threw four touchdown passes in the New Orleans Bowl.
QB Corey Robinson, Troy: There were plenty of candidates to choose from, but Robinson gets the nod. He went 32-of-42 for 387 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a dominating 48-21 win against Ohio in the R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

RB Adonis Thomas, Toledo: His team might have lost, but it wasn’t really Thomas’ fault. He did all he could to help the Rockets, rushing for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns (averaging 8 yards a carry) in a 34-32 loss to FIU in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

RB Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State: Hillman ran for a Poinsettia Bowl-record 228 yards in a 35-14 win against Navy. He also scored three rushing touchdowns and caught the first touchdown pass of his career, and set the school record for rushing yards by a freshman.

OL Matt Reynolds, BYU: Helped the Cougars run for 219 yards on the ground in a 52-24 win against UTEP. The Cougars also did not give up a sack in the game.

OL Nate Potter, Boise State: Helped the Broncos rush for 202 yards in a 26-3 win against Utah in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

OL Logan Pegram, Northern Illinois: He was part of a terrific effort from a Huskies' offensive line that totally dominated the Humanitarian Bowl. The Huskies shut down the Fresno State passing attack, holding the best sack duo in the country in Chris Carter and Logan Harrell without a sack.

OL Joe Pawlak, Northern Illinois: Also part of the Huskies' offensive line that opened holes for Chad Spann and Chandler Harnish, and allowed the Huskies to run for 203 yards.

C Trask Iosefa, San Diego State: Helped the Aztecs pile up 279 yards on the ground in a win against Navy, and held the Midshipmen without a sack.

WR Greg Salas, Hawaii: The Warriors looked terrible on offense, and Salas was the only player who seemed to show up. You have to give a nod to a guy who led all receivers during bowl season with 214 yards on 13 catches. He added two scores in a 62-35 loss to Tulsa in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

WR Cody Hoffman, BYU: Had eight catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-24 win against UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl for the first 100-yard game of his career.

TE Virgil Green, Nevada: Had 62 yards on four catches in a 20-13 win against Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. He helped open up the offense early in the game.


DE Jake Coffman, Northern Illinois: Set a Humanitarian Bowl record with three sacks, added another 1.5 tackles for a loss and forced a fumble en route to a 40-17 win against Fresno State.

DE Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy: Had eight tackles, including three for a loss, and a New Orleans Bowl record 2.5 sacks in a 48-21 win against Ohio in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

DL Bruce Miller, UCF: Led the best defensive effort of the season, helping hold Georgia to 82 yards rushing, while notching eight tackles and 1.5 sacks in a 10-6 win against the Bulldogs in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.

DL Shea McClellin, Boise State: The Broncos had a dominating performance against Utah, holding the Utes to 200 total yards. McClellin had one of the team’s four sacks.

LB Tank Carder, TCU: He only had the biggest play of the game, swatting down a 2-point conversion with two minutes left to save a 21-19 win against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl presented by Vizio.

LB Curnelius Arnick, Tulsa: He had two interceptions, including one that was returned 54 yards for a touchdown in a 62-35 win against Hawaii in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

LB Stephen Anderson, Army: Had 10 tackles, one interception and half a sack in Army’s 16-14 win against SMU in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The defensive effort was its best of the season and allowed the Black Knights to finish 2010 with a winning record for the first time since 1996.

S Colin Jones, TCU: He had a career-high 10 tackles and also added two pass break-ups in the 21-19 win against Wisconsin.

S Kreg Brown, FIU: Brown had the first two interceptions of his career, but they were mighty big ones in a 34-32 win against Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. His second interception in the fourth quarter set up a touchdown that gave FIU a 28-24 lead.

CB Dayonne Nunley, Miami (Ohio): His 52-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter gave Miami its first lead of the game en route to a 35-21 win against Middle Tennessee in the Bowl. He also had a fumble recovery.

CB Josh Robinson, UCF: Not only did he have an interception, he helped keep A.J. Green in check, allowing him just 77 yards in receptions – and a long of only 18 yards in a win against Georgia.


P Brian Stahovich, San Diego State: He might have only punted three times in a win against Navy, but all three of his punts landed inside the 20, and he averaged 40.3 yards a kick. Navy didn’t return a punt.

PK Jack Griffin, FIU: Nailed a 34-yard field goal with no time left to give FIU the win against Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. He made his other field-goal attempt in the game, a 31-yarder, and all his extra-point attempts.

PR Rishard Matthews, Nevada: His 72-yard punt return for a touchdown ended up making a huge difference in a 20-13 win against Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. It was Nevada’s first punt return for a touchdown since 2001.

KR T.Y. Hilton, FIU: His 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter helped spark the Panthers’ rally in the win against Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Hilton finished with 174 yards on five kickoff returns.

*AP Damarius Johnson, Tulsa: Had to add in the all-purpose category to give a nod to Johnson, who had 329 all-purpose yards and set the NCAA career record in that category in the win against Hawaii.
The Senior Bowl has been announcing the players to be featured in its game over the last several weeks, with plenty more to come. Some of the top non-AQ players in the country will be represented in Mobile, Ala., for the showcase game on Jan. 29.

Here is a partial list:

Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

Jerrel Jernigan, WR/AP, Troy

Jeremy Kerley, WR/AP, TCU

Austin Pettis, WR, Boise State

Greg Salas, WR, Hawaii

Titus Young, WR, Boise State

Dalton joins a South roster that already features Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy and Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. Dalton's draft status is one to watch, in my opinion. He may not be Andrew Luck but he has got the intangibles covered. It's hard to argue against a player who has won a school-record 42 games and definitely has the size at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds to play in the NFL.

Mel Kiper ranks him as the No. 5 senior quarterback going into the draft in his current rankings. Others project him as a fourth- to fifth-round pick.

"I’m just going to go out and show [scouts] how I play, show them that I can play with a lot of these players," Dalton said in a statement announcing his participation. "Hopefully people will see my leadership abilities and all the different intangibles that I can bring to the game."

Kiper has Jernigan listed as his No. 4 senior wide receiver.

Several other top non-AQ players have committed to play in another all-star game, the East-West Shrine Game in Orlando on Jan. 22. Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been invited to play in both games. Here is a partial list of the East-West participants:

Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State

Ricky Dobbs, QB, Navy

Lester Jean, WR, FAU

Jeron Johnson, S, Boise State

Shiloh Keo, S, Idaho

Brian Lainhart, S, Kent State

Josh McNary, DE, Army

Dontay Moch, DE/LB, Nevada

Justin Taplin-Ross, S, Utah

Instant Analysis: Tulsa 62, Hawaii 35

December, 25, 2010
Tulsa beat Hawaii 62-35 in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Friday night. Here is a quick instant analysis:

How the game was won: As expected, there were plenty of points in this one, but it was not the offensive showcase Hawaii wanted. The Warriors were a turnover machine in the first half, with five interceptions and one fumble. Quarterback Bryant Moniz threw two interceptions on the first two drives, then injured his back on a sack. Backup Shane Austin came on and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Moniz came back in and also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. In all, Moniz had four interceptions -- two to linebackers that he simply never saw when he dropped back. He had never thrown more than two in a game. He also missed one of his top targets, Kealoha Pilares, who hurt his knee early in the game and never returned. Tulsa scored 24 of its 27 first-half points off the turnovers despite a sluggish offensive performance. Tulsa had more takeaways (6) than first downs (5). But the Golden Hurricane offense got going in a big way, racking up 437 second-half yards to win their seventh straight game. Ultimately, those first-half mistakes proved too costly for the Warriors to overcome.

Turning point: The third quarter proved to be the biggest turning point in the game. Twice, Hawaii cut the lead to six, but Tulsa had quick responses each time. In fact, Tulsa scored three touchdowns on six plays that covered 206 yards on its first three drives of the third quarter to put the game out of reach.

Player of the game: The Tulsa defense has to get the nod as the collective players of the game. Curnelius Arnick had two interceptions, including one that was returned for the touchdown. John Flanders also had an interception return for a touchdown. Hawaii put up its fair share of yards and points, but those takeaways proved to be the difference. Tulsa all-purpose player Damaris Johnson gets a nod, too. See below.

Second-guessing: Hawaii receiver Royce Pollard caught a 33-yard touchdown pass with 9:27 to go in the fourth quarter, which cut the lead to 48-35. Rather than try for an onside kick, the Warriors kicked the ball deep, hoping for a stop. Tulsa ended up scoring a touchdown five plays later to go ahead by 20 points.

What it means: Tulsa finished the season on an incredible streak and should be ranked at the end of the season as a 10-win team. With G.J. Kinne, Damaris Johnson and 15 other starters returning, the Golden Hurricane should be the favorites to win Conference USA going into 2011. As for Hawaii, the Warriors return Moniz, who ended up throwing for more than 5,000 yards this season. But many of their top playmakers are gone, including Greg Salas, Pilares and Alex Green. Still, with Boise State moving on to the Mountain West and Nevada also losing its three best players in Colin Kaepernick, Vai Taua and Dontay Moch, Hawaii should be in the hunt for another WAC title.

Record performance: Damaris Johnson added yet another NCAA record to his collection, becoming the career leader for all-purpose yards. Johnson, who already owns the NCAA record for kickoff return yards, broke the career all-purpose record of 7,764 yards set by Western Michigan's Brandon West (2006-09). Johnson had 329 all-purpose yards against Hawaii and three touchdowns. ... One other player to note: Salas had 12 catches and two touchdowns in his final game, the first 200-yard receiving game of his career.


Sheraton Hawaii Bowl keys

December, 23, 2010
You saw my preview and prediction. Now here are three keys each for Hawaii and Tulsa in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl:

Tulsa (9-3)

1. Balance. G.J. Kinne is the key here, as he leads the team in passing with 3,307 yards and rushing with 557 yards and seven touchdowns. The Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year has grown tremendously, and is athletic enough to make plays with his arm and his feet. Boise State threw for more than 500 yards on this Hawaii secondary, so that is a blueprint to follow. But Tulsa knows it cannot win with passing alone. Alex Singleton, at 249 pounds, could present a serious matchup problem for Hawaii because of his size and power. Damaris Johnson can also make plays in the run game.

2. Get after Bryant Moniz. Hawaii has given up 34 sacks this season. In its worst game of the year, a 42-7 loss to Boise State, Moniz was sacked seven times. The Tulsa defensive front is not nearly as strong as Boise State's, but it needs to get Moniz out of his rhythm and force him into making uncomfortable throws. If you come with a lot of corner blitzes, you leave yourself exposed against a talented Hawaii receiving corps. So Tulsa is going to have to mix up its fronts and disguise its coverages so it does not leave itself vulnerable.

3. Protect the football. Hawaii gives up its fair share of big plays – 53 that have gone for 25 yards or more this season. But the Warriors also lead the nation in turnovers forced (36) and interceptions (23). The defense has at least two picks in each of the past 10 games after not recording an interception in its first three games. Kinne and his teammates are going to have to be extra aware of a defense that is opportunistic and always looking for a way to knock the ball loose.

Hawaii (10-3)

1. Change it up. Tulsa is going to be so focused on stopping the pass, don’t be surprised if Hawaii starts out giving the ball to Alex Green, who is perfectly capable of breaking off some big runs. Green has 13 runs of 25 yards or more this season, and became the first 1,000 yard runner at Hawaii since 1992. In his 327-yard rushing performance against New Mexico State, Green was able to take advantage of gaping holes in the middle of the defense because the Aggies used extra defenders to cover the receivers. Tulsa has to watch for this.

2. Slow down Kinne. Hawaii did an exceptional job slowing down another mobile quarterback it faced this season in Colin Kaepernick. Though these two offenses are different, Kinne is a big threat to run and pass. Hawaii is going to have to bottle him up in the run game to make Tulsa more one-dimensional. If he throws more than he wants, then the Warriors have the ability to keep on intercepting passes.

3. Take advantage of Greg Salas. Hawaii always does, as he ranks No. 2 nationally in receiving yards per game (128.8) and third in receptions per game (8.15). Salas has 12 touchdowns this season. He needs three receptions to break Davone Bess’ single-season record of 108 set in 2007, and 39 yards to eclipse Ashley Lelie’s single-season mark of 1,713 set in 2001. At 6-2, he has a size advantage over both starting cornerbacks and strong safety Marco Nelson, so he could be in store for yet another big day.
Hawaii and Tulsa are two of the most prolific offenses in the country, a big reason why the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Friday night is one of the most attractive of the non-BCS games. Who doesn’t love offensive fireworks? Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz and Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne are sure to oblige. But there are also some big-time players on defense to keep an eye on: Hawaii middle linebacker Corey Paredes and free safety Mana Silva and Tulsa freshman safety Marco Nelson. Here is a quick preview.

WHO TO WATCH: With so many good players in this game, it is hard to pick just one. But I am going to go with somebody off the radar, a player you will hear more about in my preview video. That is Tulsa all-purpose player Damaris Johnson. He led the nation in all-purpose yards for a second straight year and is set to become the NCAA career leader in all-purpose yards. He is small at 5-foot-8, but he is used in many difference places on the field, so watch for him.

WHAT TO WATCH: Offense, silly! Moniz and Kinne are getting the attention, but some of the more intriguing battles in this game are going to come between the receivers and cornerbacks. Hawaii receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares present matchup problems for a Tulsa secondary that ranks second-to-last in passing defense. Nelson is a true freshman, but he is capable of making huge plays. For Tulsa, Johnson and H-back Charles Clay could have a tough time against a Hawaii secondary that has 23 interceptions this season. Silva is tied for the nation lead with eight. Paredes also plays the pass well, so the Golden Hurricane are going to have their hands full.

WHY TO WATCH: Face it, you are probably going to still be wrapping presents on Friday night, and watching an entertaining game will certainly help pass the tedium of cutting and taping. It’s not often that Hawaii is showcased during prime-time, because most of its games start when most of the East Coast has gone to sleep. But the Warriors play an exciting brand of offensive football with a version of the Run N Shoot. Plus, Moniz will be back for his senior season and should be a 2011 preseason player to watch. Kinne also returns for his senior season along with 16 starters, and that could make the Golden Hurricane a preseason favorite to win Conference USA.

PREDICTION: I have agonized long over this one, because I think both teams can win. Ultimately, I am going with Hawaii 44, Tulsa 38 because the Warriors will be able to take advantage of a weaker Tulsa defense.

Lunchtime Links

December, 15, 2010
One serving of lunchtime links, coming up!

Northern Illinois interim coach Tom Matukewicz is enjoying the ride.

Shaky Smithson is leaving Utah as an All-American.

Nobody at San Diego State envisioned the type of season running back Ronnie Hillman had.

The BYU run game was OK without Harvey Unga.

UTEP safety and former walk-0n Austin Contreras wins admiration with his hard work and toughness.

Hawaii WR Greg Salas is thankful to get All-America recognition.

With WAC realignment in full effect, what's next for New Mexico State?

New North Texas coach Dan McCarney has gotten a major bump in pay over predecessor Todd Dodge.

A bowl win for Middle Tennessee would top its in-state foes.

Nevada recruiting tops non-AQ Mailbag

December, 10, 2010
We got a nice variety in the mailbag Friday: Nevada, Boise State, UCF, East Carolina and Temple. Keep those comments coming!

Martin T. Kandy in Ft. Lauderdale writes: With the fantastic season Nevada has experienced, are there any indications California recruits are paying more attention to the WolfPack? How does there 2011 recruiting class look so far?

Adelson writes: Nevada always does well in California, just take a look at its roster. But so far it is unclear how this season is impacting recruits. Nevada has seven commitments, all from California. None are rated above two stars. There is still plenty of time until signing day, so it will be interesting to see how Nevada closes.

Scott Sweely of Johnson City, Tenn., writes: Why aren't more people questioning the overall bowl selection process for the case of Temple University getting snubbed while they defeated several bowl & BCS teams? It appears that some schools cannot get into a bowl regardless of their record or accomplishments.

Adelson writes: Temple got the short end, no question about it. But the MAC only has three guaranteed tie-ins, and had six bowl eligible teams. As I wrote in a previous post, Temple was hurt because it lost two straight, and all the other 6-6 teams that made it had tie-ins to their respective games. It is an absolute shame that Temple has to sit at home with an 8-4 record and a win over Connecticut. But the system is going to favor 6-6 teams from the bigger conferences from now on for at-large bids thanks to a recent change.

808 AF Warrior of Travis AFB in Calif., writes: How is it that Hawaii receiver Greg Salas did not make it as a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award? 106 catches for 1,675 yards (which leads the nation) and still no love?

Adelson writes: Probably because he plays for Hawaii and many of the accomplishments of those players get discredited because of the "system." Salas had a great year, no question about it.

Danny in Orlando writes: After winning the C-USA Coach of the Year award for the third time, do you think that UCF coach George O'Leary might be a candidate for any head coaching jobs at a higher-profile school? And if he did leave, do you think the program would be all right? I think that the school has proven that it is willing to spend money on athletics. Plus, with (Jeff) Godfrey at quarterback, I think this team has the potential to be good for the next three years.

Adelson writes: O'Leary isn't going anywhere. What happened with his resume at Notre Dame is going to give a high profile school pause. I think he will be UCF's coach until whenever he decides to retire, and I do agree the Knights are in good shape for the future.

Dustin in Meridian, Idaho, writes: Could you see the Big 12 adding Boise State in the near future? I know that they are joining the MWC, but I know BSU would ditch the MWC for the Big 12 any day. BSU would do very well in the Big 12 North.

Adelson writes: Nope, not going to happen.

Matt in Boise, Idaho, writes: Why do you believe that Boise State University President Robert Kustra and Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee are speaking out about college football topics and the presidents are not leaving it to their ADs to discuss with the media?

Adelson writes: Presidents have a lot of say in what happens with the BCS, not just athletic directors and conference commissioners. Gee was asked a question in an interview, and I don't think he realized the firestorm he was about to create. Kustra just fired back. I just think both felt the need to defend their schools. But if you are going to defend your school, you should at least sound educated about athletics.

Michael in Burlington, N.C., writes: I was wondering if you could try 2 things for me? 1. Give some more love to Dominique Davis and Dwayne Harris from ECU. They are amazing and their numbers show it. 2. ECU had a down year, but I believe is on the rise. They need some exposure. Granted they haven't deserved much this season. But we need your help to get some love!

Adelson writes: Maybe you missed my story on Davis earlier this year. I know it was a while ago, but hey it counts for something, right? I try my best to hit as many players/teams as I can so stay tuned. Non-AQ all-conference team

December, 8, 2010
Coming up with the all non-AQ team is never easy, because there are so many good players across all five conferences, Army and Navy. Unfortunately, many talented players get left off this list because there isn't room for everybody.

I tried to pick the players who had the most outstanding seasons at their respective positions. The toughest positions for me to pick were defensive line, receiver and linebacker, where I had 10 worthy candidates to whittle down.

It was also tough selecting a quarterback, so I went with two: Heisman Trophy finalist Kellen Moore of Boise State and record-setting Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. Both had incredible seasons worthy of recognition. My lone Sun Belt selection had the best player in the conference -- Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey, who ran for 1,649 yards on an astounding 340 carries, with 15 touchdowns.

My lone MAC selection was KR Eric Page, who led the nation with three kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Here is the complete list. Feel free to debate in the comments section.


QB – Kellen Moore, Boise State; Colin Kaepernick, Nevada

RB – Bobby Rainey, Jr., Western Kentucky

RB – Vai Taua, Sr., Nevada

AP – Damaris Johnson, Jr., Tulsa

WR – Greg Salas, Sr., Hawaii

WR – Titus Young, Sr., Boise State

TE – Virgil Green, Sr., Nevada

OL -- Matt Reynolds, Jr., BYU

OL – Marcus Cannon, Sr., TCU

OL – Nate Potter, Jr., Boise State

OL – Rob McGill, Sr., Louisiana Tech

C -- Zane Taylor, Sr., Utah


DL -- Chris Carter, Sr., Fresno State

DL – Vinny Curry, Jr., Marshall

DL – Dontay Moch, Sr., Nevada

DL – Shea McClellin, Jr., Boise State

LB – Tank Carder, Jr., TCU

LB – Corey Paredes, Jr., Hawaii

LB -- Mario Harvey, Sr., Marshall

DB – Reggie Rembert, Sr., Air Force

DB – Mana Silva, Sr., Hawaii

DB – Tejay Johnson, Sr., TCU

DB – George Iloka, Boise State


K – Danny Hrapmann, Jr., Southern Miss

P – Kyle Martens, Jr., Rice

KR – Eric Page, So., Toledo

PR – Shaky Smithson, Sr., Utah