Rainbow Bright: Finding Positives in Hawai'i's Loss To UNLV

Daniel McGowinCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009

After getting out quickly and holding off the Washington State Cougars, Hawai'i met a stronger opponent in Mountain West foe UNLV.  In the end, the Warriors came away with a loss in the second of a three-game mainland road trip.

But there were plenty of positives to be found in that game against the Rebels.

UNLV is Not a Bad Team.

First, give credit to UNLV.  After a disappointing 2008 campaign, many believe that the Rebels were due to rebound and have a solid season.  UNLV was also coming off a tough loss against Oregon State.

In that game against the Beavers, the Rebels took a fourth quarter lead and looked poised to win the game.  After taking a 21-20 lead, UNLV kicked off and the Beavers took with just over four minutes to drive 64 yards on 12 plays.  Oregon State kicker Justin Kahut booted through a 33-yard field goal for the victory.

Even though it was a loss for UNLV, they demonstrated that they could hang with the Beavers, a mid-to upper tier Pac-10 team.  For Hawai'i to lose to UNLV, it could almost be seen as expected.  Remember, UNLV was a seven-point favorite going into the game.

Greg Alexander Continues to Shine.

Another week, another record game for Hawai'i quarterback Greg Alexander.  The gunslinger was 31 for 44 passing for a career-high 477 yards and three touchdowns.  He did have one interception though.

After a 2008 season of Russian Roulette at quarterback, it is nice to have solid, steady play at the QB position.

The Emergence of New (Multiple) Targets

Hawai'i fans knew that Greg Salas would blow up this season.  Salas has scored in all three games this season, and has tallied over 100 yards in each contest.

The emergence of junior Rodney Bradley has allowed for more diversity in the passing game.  Bradley followed up a big game at Washington State (seven catches for 150 yards and two scores) with another 100-yard performance against the Rebels (189 yards, to be exact).  He is becoming a big time threat for the Warriors.

Add to that Kealoha Pilares, who set a career high in receptions (13) and receiving yards (146).  For the season, Pilares has totaled 27 catches for 257 yards.

With the emergence of the latter two to compliment Salas, Alexander has several targets to choose from and that should make the offense difficult to stop.

Coach Greg McMackin commented that the "offense played excellent."  Even though the running game was not there against UNLV (and it is not as though it is a major component of the offense), the passing game definitely looked excellent.  Alexander and the receiving corps continue to blossom and will only get better.

Are there concerns from the UNLV game?  Sure.  But it appears to be confined to that game.  As Coach McMackin noted, "If if you always win two out of three phases of the game [offense, defense and special teams] you are going to win the game...We only won one phase."

In other words, the problems from the UNLV game can be corrected.

But again, why dwell on the negatives?  The Warriors are 2-1 and face a stiff challenge in the third game of the long road trip; at Louisiana Tech on Wednesday September 30.