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Media picks Hawai’i in preseason poll

Media picks Hawai’i in presason poll

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

SAN JOSE, Calif. – In the past few years, the Boise State Broncos have had the proverbial target on their backs heading into start of the football season.

That distinction has been passed to the Hawai’i Warriors, who went 11-3 last season, including a 7-1 Western Athletic Conference record.

Hawai’i, by vote of the WAC media and coaches, has been installed as the preseason pick to win the WAC football title this season.

Hawai’i received six of nine first-place votes from conference coaches and finished with 62 points. Boise State, the five-time defending champion, received three first-place votes and 59 points.

Nevada (45), Fresno State (40), San Jose State (39), New Mexico State (31), Louisiana Tech (25), Utah State (13) and Idaho (10) round out the voting by coaches.

It’s the second straight year that Nevada has been picked to finish third by the WAC coaches. Nevada was 8-5 last year and is coming off its second straight bowl appearance, a 21-20 loss to Miami in the MPC Computers Bowl, in Boise, Idaho.

In the media poll, Hawai’i received 32 first-place votes out of 58 for 494 points. Boise State received the remainder of the first-pace votes and finished with 490 points. Fresno State (361), Nevada (337), San Jose State (321), New Mexico State (233), Louisiana Tech 157, Utah State (110) and Idaho (107) round out the remainder of the conference teams.

“Expectations are always that way when you win,” Hawai’i coach June Jones said. “Having (quarterback) Colt (Brennan) back fosters some of those things. We have to start getting lucky and win on the road.”

Jones said he’s not worried about all the hype surrounding his team. He said that wins will take care of that.

“We’re excited about it (the poll),” defensive tackle Mike Lafaele said during Media Day festivities at the Hilton Hotel.

Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who led the Broncos to an unbeaten season and a Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma, deep down is probably happy that is team isn’t the favorite.

“Our guys know how good Hawai’i is,” said Petersen, whose team upended Hawai’i 41-34 last year. “We play them the last game of the season, and all that comes with it. I hope it’s a big game for both teams.”

Petersen, like any other coach, knows that preseason polls don’t mean anything. He knows however, as defending champs, the road to WAC supremacy goes through Boise State.

Petersen also wants to put the craziness of last season behind him. He’s ready to move forward and start the new season.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day,” Petersen said. “I think the team continues to do a god job of being focused on (this year). I expect the fans and everybody else to get focused on the task at hand. It was exciting last year what we accomplished. Certainly it’s time to move on.”

BRENNAN, LOWERY HONORED

Media covering the WAC voted Hawai’i quarterback Colt Brennan preseason offensive player of the year and San Jose State cornerback Dwight Lowery preseason defensive player of the year.

Brennan, sporting dreadlocks after he made a promise to some teammates, has set numerous NCAA records the past two years. Last year he completed 406-of-559 passes for 5,549 yards and 58 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions.

Brennan also rushed for 366 yards and five scores. He set single-season records with the 58 touchdowns and an quarterback efficiency rating of 186.0.

Brennan won the award over the equally talented Boise State running back Ian Johnson.

Lowery, a senior, was a first-team All-American selection last season after intercepting a school-record nine passes. He also had 48 tackles, helping the SJSU defense to a third-place conference ranking.

Lowery may have snuck up on people last year, but that won’t be the case this year. Teams may choose to attack the other side of the field.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281.