WAC Notebook | NevadaAppeal.com

WAC Notebook

WAC Notebook

BY DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

Hawaii coach June Jones said he doesn’t pay much attention to the polls these days.

Hawaii, despite a 6-0 record, is no better than 16th in all three major polls – Associated Press, USA Today and Harris. To be invited to a Bowl Championship Series game, Hawaii needs to get to No. 12 in the BCS poll, which combines the Harris poll and the computer rankings.

“The polls take care of themselves at the end of the year,” Jones said during Monday’s weekly Western Athletic Conference teleconference. “I haven’t talked to the team about it. We have a focused group of guys. One slip-up and we’d go down to 50th. We’re not like one of the other teams…Florida loses a game and they might drop to fourth or fifth.”

Actually, Jones has more important things to worry about, namely the health of starting quarterback Colt Brennan.

Brennan has been hobbled by an ankle injury since the UNLV game back on Sept. 15th. He didn’t play against Charleston Southern, had a five-interception game at Idaho in a Hawaii win and missed part of the team’s 52-37 win over Utah State last weekend.

“He re-aggravated it again (against Utah State),” Jones said. “When it happened at UNLV, I knew it was going to be a season-long deal. He’s an athletic type of guy that runs around a lot, I knew it would linger. It’s something he’s going to have to play with. He’s been battling through it.”

Tyler Graunke threw a couple of touchdown passes while Brennan was being examined, and Jones elected to hold out Brennan the rest of the way.

If there is anything positive out of this situation, it’s that Hawaii does have a proven No. 2 quarterback. Graunke has been sensational thus far, completing 43-of-71 passes for 720 yards and seven TD’s.

Utah State coach Brent Guy was impressed with Graunke’s performance.

“I didn’t see any (difference between the two),” he said. “The first pass he threw a strike on a wheel route. His (Graunke’s) release isn’t quite as quick (as Brennan’s). He took them down and scored three times.”

BRONCOS ADJUST

When it comes to schedules, Boise State’s differs from that of most teams.

Because of TV obligations, the Broncos have had a strange schedule, but coach Chris Petersen seems to make it work.

“I don’t prefer it,” he said. “I’d like to be playing home games at 1 p.m. on Saturdays every week if we could. I appreciate the exposure we’ve gotten. It is what it is.

“We’ve always played on Thursday or Friday ever since I’ve been here. This year we have two Thursday games, two Friday games and two Sundays. We know that (ahead of time), and we just plan and prepare.”

Whether Petersen or the Broncos want to admit it, ESPN has helped put the school on the map.

Good teams or not, many people didn’t know much about Boise State and its famed blue turf until ESPN started showing the Broncos on a yearly basis.

SPARTANS TURN IT AROUND

After opening the season with three road games against BCS schools (all losses), San Jose State has turned its season around with consecutive wins over UC-Davis, Utah State and Idaho.

The Spartans are 2-0 in conference and start the meaty portion of their WAC schedule with games against Hawaii (Friday at home) and then back-to-back road games at Fresno State and Boise State.

It’s a known fact that you don’t have to beat any of the big three (Hawaii, Boise State, Fresno State) to reach a bowl game, but usually beating one of the three helps. Nevada lost to BSU, Fresno State and Hawaii last season, but still went 5-3 and went to the MPC Computers Bowl.

“The key is we realized we still had (many of) our goals available to us,” coach Dick Tomey said. “We needed to do things differently.”

Tomey said that the win over Utah State was critical.

“There is 2:22 left, we’re going against the wind and the it’s raining sideways.” Tomey said. “We had 82 yards to go (for a TD) and we found a way to win.”

VANDALS LOSE QB

Redshirt freshman Nathan Enderlee is expected to be sidelined for at least two more weeks after surgery to replace tendon damage to his right hand. Enderlee suffered the injury against Hawaii.

Brian Nooy started in the 28-20 loss to San Jose State, completing 8-of -15 passes for 68 yards.

Coach Robb Akey said he didn’t do a whole lot different for Nooy.

“We did the same things this game that we’d been doing with Nathan,” Akey said. “Both learned the offense last spring and in fall camp. We did run the ball a little more. We did select some different passes, but there wasn’t a drastic change.”

AGGIES HOBBLED

New Mexico State is finding out how just how tough it is when you put all your eggs in one basket, or one position if you will.

The Aggies are a totally different team with standout quarterback Chase Holbrook out with a rib injury. Holbrook left early in the Aggies’ loss to Boise State, and the Aggies only had true freshman J.J. McDermott in reserve. Holbrook’s status is unknown for this weekend’s game.

“He (Holbrook) tried to go,” New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme said. “He got hit on the third play of the game. He actually got hit on the first play and then the third play. Teams know what is wrong with him and they go after him.

“J.J. is going to be a good player. I’m disappointed with my offensive line. They didn’t play anywhere near close to what they are capable of. The running backs, the same thing. They needed to step up and help the young guy.”

McDermott completed10-of-19 passes for 57 yards.

WAC BOSS DISAPPOINTED

Commissioner Karl Benson expressed a little disappointment with the pollsters over the weekend.

“At this time of the year, it’s hard to predict what polls are going to show,” Benson said. “Pollsters weren’t impressed with Hawaii’s win at home against Utah State.”

Benson was wondering how a team could not play and move up five spots (Oregon). He also pointed out that a team won as expected, and moved up four spots.

“It shows how volatile the polls can be,” Benson said. “It’s important Hawaii play well (on Friday at San Jose State).”

ESPN is broadcasting the game on Friday and Benson expects them to promote the game – and Hawaii’s Colt Brennan in particular -quite a bit this week.

Hawaii needs to be in the top 12 at the end of the regular season in order to land a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game.

WAC HONOREES

Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews and return specialist A.J. Jefferson, and Hawaii linebacker Solomon Elimimian were named the offensive, special teams and defensive players of the week by the conference.

Mathews, a true freshman, rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 49-41 win over Nevada. He had scoring runs of 54 and 67 yards, respectively.

Jefferson returned three kickoff returns for 108 yards and also returned a blocked field goal 40 yards for a score.

Elimimiam posed a career-best 20 tackles in the Warriors’ 52-37 win over Utah State. He finished three shy of the school record.

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