BOULDER - In August, while sharing an ice tea and appetizers on my deck, long-time friend and frequent advisor CW (Conventional Wisdom), shared this prophecy about Hawaii's Saturday visit to Folsom Field:
"Since the Warriors will be wrapping up a 13-day, roughly 11,000-mile road trip and playing on the mainland at altitude rather than in their customary island digs, they'll come to Colorado with only a slight chance of winning . . . go ahead and pencil in a 'W' for the Buffs."
After last weekend's beat down in Berkeley, though, CW was chewing on his pencil and singing a different, mournful, stressed out tune. He felt confused, betrayed - and not so good about the Warriors being a 'W.'
"I thought you told me this CU team was different - experienced, more talented, bigger, faster, stronger, more skill players . . . ," he said. "So tell me about 52-7 . . . what happened?"
I tried to explain, but CW wanted none of it. He waved me off after I got to five turnovers, six sacks allowed and nine penalties, reminding me that veteran teams don't play like that.
"So what did 'Coach Hawk' (Dan Hawkins) say about it," he pressed.
I relayed to him a couple of things Hawkins said on Monday's Big 12 coaches' teleconference:
On coming back this week after a 45-point loss: "Our guys have great resolve. They're not going to cash it in. They've got a lot of pride and they've worked hard. I don't have any doubt that they'll rally back."
On the Cal game getting out of hand so fast: "Yeah . . . that definitely did surprise me; I didn't expect that at all based off the way our guys prepared and the way we practiced. We had our best Thursday practice in a while. It was bad field position, bad punt - score. Turnover - score . . . it was kind of a landslide."
"Sounds to me like the only thing missing was an earthquake," CW said. "I see Nevada pounded Colorado State 51-6, which kinda makes that 24-3 opening win seem a little wimpy. Guess it's a good thing your Buffs haven't scheduled the Wolfpack. But I digress; let's talk about the Warriors."
So I told him what I knew about Hawaii . . . lost its opener 49-36 to Southern California, rallied in the final minutes Saturday at West Point to beat Army 31-28 on a 31-yard field goal with 7 seconds to play . . . first Eastern Time Zone win in Hawaii's history . . . Warriors flew to Las Vegas after Saturday's game and will stay/study/practice there until leaving for Boulder on Friday.
"Who goes to Vegas for six days to catch up on academics and get ready to play a football game?" CW asked incredulously.
I told him those island guys have incredible focus, but he didn't accept that as an adequate answer. So I moved on to Hawaii's personnel, namely quarterback Bryant Moniz, who on Monday was named the Western Athletic Conference's offensive player-of-the-week.
Moniz, of Wahiawa, O'ahu, started eight of the Warriors' last nine games in 2009. In addition to engineering the drive to the winning field goal against Army, Moniz completed 25-of-36 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns against Army - not bad for a former walk-on from Fresno City College who coach Greg McMackin said worked his way up from fifth string and was selling pizzas a couple of years ago.
"Greg McMackin?" asked CW. "Do I know that name?"
I reminded him that McMackin was an assistant coach with the Denver Gold in 1985, has been in Boulder before as Texas Tech's defensive coordinator and was on Dennis Erickson's staff at three stops (University of Miami, Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers). McMackin's business cards should read "defensive guru."
Then I asked CW if the name Darrel "Mouse" Davis meant anything to him.
"Whaddya take me for?" he said. "I know my football . . . 'Father of The Run-And-Shoot, right'?"
Correct . . . The "Mouse," who coached the Gold in '85, is in his first season on McMackin's staff as receivers coach. Davis is an island second-timer; he was on former Hawaii coach June Jones staff from 2004-06.
"I'm thinking 'Mouse' being on the staff means the Warriors like to throw it around a little bit?" CW asked.
I offered him some stats: Hawaii averages 33.5 points and 470 yards of total offense a game. Most of the yards (401) are air yards; the Warriors are only running for 69.5 yards a game, and they're allowing 248 ground yards a game. In two games, Moniz, a swift 6-0, 200-pound junior, has completed 43-of-72 passes for 612 yards and four TDs (no interceptions).
"So what's 'Hawk's' take on Hawaii," CW asked.
I relayed what Hawkins told a Big 12 questioner Monday morning: "Offensively, they're electric. They obviously do a good job of throwing it around the yard. Their quarterback is very fast when he takes off running . . . they're electric."
CW snickered and asked me how close CU's offense is to becoming electric. I hedged, but he insisted. Here's all I could offer: After two games the Buffs are last in the Big 12 in scoring offense (15.5 points), total offense (274 yards a game) and rushing offense (95 yards a game), and tied for 10th in passing offense (179 yards a game).
"That ain't real electric . . . sounds like a transformer's blown somewhere, maybe a wiring problem. Reminds me a lot of last season," CW said. "Can it be fixed fast?"
The folks in charge and the guys on the field say it can, I told him. Try and relax, I urged him; we're only two games in.
"Yeah, but isn't time running a little short up there?" Conventional Wisdom wanted to know.
I gave him the only answer I could.