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SAN JOSE AT HAWAII

9/27/08

3* San Jose +3 over Hawaii - One of the most important stats for any handicapper to be aware of is turnovers. It should come as no surprise that there is a direct correlation between wins and losses and turnover differential. Not just wins and losses straight up, but wins and losses against the spread as well. Sure, in college ball, there are plenty of games where simple talent wins out. But all things being equal, when two teams tangle where the talent level is fairly even, you can be sure that the deciding factor will be a mistake. Most likely a turnover.

Turnovers are rarely accidents. Sure, every once in a while a simple flub will happen. A drop. A wet ball. But most of the times turnovers are created. A defense creates turnovers because they get after the ball and hit hard. A defense creates turnovers because the pass rush is good and they hurry the Quarterback and because the pass coverage is so good downfield that opposing QB's are constantly throwing into coverage. Special teams creates turnovers as a result of great kicking team coverage getting downfield in a hurry and getting after the ball.

Likewise, turnovers are created by the offense and the coaching staff. A poorly coached team, where the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing, generally turns the ball over. A receiver may run a wrong route. A back may go left when the play is to the right and so on and so on. Which brings us to Hawaii. Hawaii is dead last in the nation in turnover margin at -9. To be fair, they had to play Florida in week one and they did turn the ball over 6 times in that one, but there may be more to the story than just getting blown out by one of the best teams in the country.

Hawaii figured to be hurting coming into this year. They have the fewest returning starters in the WAC and a brand new coaching staff including the head man Mcmackin who was the defensive coordinator last year. The new offensive coordinator was a high school coach last year. So we have new coaches, new players and of course new schemes to learn which in turn creates a great opportunity for their to be confusion and ........turnovers. Gone are June Jones and Colt Brennan as well as several other key pieces to the 12-1 season a year ago. No shame in the loss to Florida but they also lost to Oregon State 45-7 and Oregon State lost to Stanford and was blown away by Penn State.

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San Jose State on the other hand has played some competitive football at times this year. They trailed 14-12 at Nebraska early in the 4th quarter until a kick return swung the momentum in that one and Nebraska scored 3 td's in the 4 quarter to win 35-12. Statistically, the game was dead even across the board. Last week at Stanford they had a 10-7 lead at the half and trailed 13-10 after 3 before giving up 10 in the 4th quarter. They also own wins over Cal Davis and San Diego State. If there's a problem at San Jose, it's in maintaining a lead late in games.

Huge coaching edge for San Jose. Dick Tomey took Arizona to 7 Bowl games in the 90's and has won where ever he has been, including Hawaii. He also guided this San Jose team to as 9-4 mark in just his 2nd year here, 2006. Again, a well coached team is not likely to beat themselves. Also, having coached in Hawaii, he knows how to handle his kids once there. Knows the distractions and what to keep them away from to maintain focus.

Ultimately, we doubt Hawaii is as bad as they have looked. However, we don't think they are very good either. San Jose appears to be the better team thus far. At worst, these two are fairly even which brings is back to the coaching and the turnovers. Hawaii is a work in progress. A new project. San Jose has everything in place.

Lastly we bring up the punching bag syndrome. We mention this quite a bit over the course of a college football season. We mention it, because it's an important factor often overlooked. When one team dominates another for many years, when the chance to turn the tables presents itself, teams are likely to take advantage. In this series, Hawaii has won 7. Which means there's not a senior on this San Jose State team that's ever beaten Hawaii. No one wants to go thru their entire college football career having never beaten a team they have had 4 or 5 cracks at. So there's added incentive.

If you doubt these teams are at least equal in talent, consider this. Last year, in Hawaii's 12-1 year, with June Jones and Colt Brennan and all the rest of the weapons, San Jose State took them to overtime where Hawaii pulled it out 42-35. San Jose has 7 returning starters on offense and 6 on defense. Hawaii has just 4 on each side of the ball.

This year Hawaii is averaging fewer than 300 yards per game on offense, QB Tyler Graunke has an injured throwing hand (think turnovers) and they are rushing for only 3.2 yards per carry. San Jose State held San Diego State to 6 yards rushing.

All is not perfect for San Jose. They are having trouble late in games. Last week Stanford got aggressive defensively and had 6 sacks in the 2nd half and had San Jose at -24 yards in the 4th quarter. But we think they are the more talented and better coached team in this one and have far more positives to draw on than Hawaii does at this stage of the season. We're looking for San Jose to break the 7 game losing streak and win this one straight up and we'll gladly take the +3 as a bonus. 3* San Jose State +3 over Hawaii

 

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