What do you get if you mix Jim Kelly, Jeff George and Warren Moon?
|Receivers like Ryan Grice-Mullen (11 TDs in '06) are Brennan's benefactors. (US Presswire)|
Maybe Hawaii senior Colt Brennan.
"He's a combination of all of them and he might be the best," said Warriors coach June Jones. "He has tremendous competitiveness once the game starts and his accuracy ... only Moon and George are in that category. I've never seen a guy put the ball on the money consistently as he does."
Brennan is coming off one of the most exceptional seasons in NCAA history -- he broke or tied 18 NCAA, 17 conference and 41 school records. He ranked first in passing efficiency, first in completion percentage (72.6), first in yards (5,549) and threw a record 58 touchdown passes. He was the conference's offensive player of the year and finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting.
He decided to return for his senior season and will line up with wide receivers Davone Bess (96 rec., 1,220 yards), Ryan Grice-Mullen (770 yards, 11 TDs) and Jason Rivers (72 rec., 1,178 yards), giving Brennan a chance to break even more records this year.
The senior is just 29 touchdowns from breaking Ty Detmer's career record of 121 and 5,150 yards from joining Detmer and Timmy Chang (also from Hawaii) as the only players to throw for at least 15,000 yards in a career.
But while Brennan is breaking records and leading his team to 68-37 victories, most of the country is tucked away in dreamland, with Hawaii six hours behind the East Coast.
|1. Boise State|
|4. San Jose State|
|5. Fresno State|
|6. New Mexico State|
|7. Louisiana Tech|
|9. Utah State|
|Team to beat:|
|San Jose State|
|Colt Brennan, Hawaii|
|Dwight Lowery, San Jose State|
|Coach of the year:|
|June Jones, Hawaii|
"Yes, the time zone difference is a disadvantage," WAC commissioner Karl Benson told the Washington Post. "But the fact that [Brennan] is a known quantity hopefully will overshadow that. The fact that he is playing on an island establishes him as an intriguing and unique candidate. You get up on Sunday morning and watch the highlights or game. The record button can be used pretty regularly."
Most important story at Hawaii? No.
The Warriors have a legitimate chance to go undefeated with one of the easiest schedules in the nation. While the season progresses and the possibility of a BCS bowl becomes a reality, their schedule will come into play.
"We don't have any control over that," said Jones. "Unfortunately Michigan State bought their way out of a game and we are one short. But you just line up and play as good as you can play and hopefully when it's all said and done, we'll be there at the end of the year. We don't worry about the rankings, we have a chance to be a good team and the kids realize what's at stake."
Hawaii opens the season with two I-AA schools and four teams with a combined record of 10-38 between Louisiana Tech, UNLV, Idaho and Utah State. It also gets Fresno State, Boise State and its biggest non-conference game -- Washington on Dec. 1 -- all at home, where the Warriors finished 7-1 last season.
Boise State ran through the WAC last year with ease, but helped its cause by winning a very important non-conference game early on, beating Oregon State 42-14. Despite finishing undefeated, it was No. 9 in the Harris and coaches polls and No. 8 in the BCS.
Hawaii has one advantage that Boise State didn't have last season -- being ranked in a preseason poll. The Warriors are ranked No. 23 in the first coaches poll of the season, while Boise State was unranked.
"We'll make the best of it. The only thing we can do is win games," said Brennan. "Boise State proved that last year. Some people said their schedule wasn't that tough, but they won all (13) of their games."
Colt Brennan, Hawaii: After his monster 2006, Brennan is primed to equal or surpass those numbers. The third-team AP All-American is already on many preseason award lists, including the Maxwell Award and the Manning Award. Last season he was a finalist for the Davey O'Brien Award and the National Player of the Year.
Dwight Lowery, San Jose State: The senior cornerback enjoyed a fantastic season in '06, becoming the first player in school history to be named to two first-team All-America lists. He set a school record with nine interceptions and tied a school mark for most INTs in a game with three. He intercepted passes in five of the first six games, leading teams to throw away from him through the last part of the season.
Predicted order of finish
|LB Ezra Butler (146 tackles in two seasons) leads a group of six seniors. (US Presswire)|
2. Hawaii: Offense, offense and more offense. With Brennan and top receivers Ryan Grice-Mullen, Davone Bess and Jason Rivers all back, the Warriors will score early and often. The defense will be key, especially in their meeting with Boise State on Nov. 23.
3. Nevada: The Wolf Pack finished 8-5 last season and should be a little stronger with a solid defense led by linebackers Ezra Butler and Jeremy Engstrom. Nick Graziano takes over at quarterback, and will have a solid receiving corp.
4. San Jose State: The key for the Spartans will be to get through a brutal start of the season, playing at Arizona State, at Kansas State and at Stanford. It also plays Boise State and Fresno State on the road. Seniors QB Adam Tafralis and RB Yonus Davis lead the offense.
5. Fresno State: The Bulldogs might be in line for another rebuilding season with Lonyae Miller taking over at running back. Tom Brandstater is back at quarterback and the defense should be much better with the return of LB Quaadir Brown and Marcus Riley.
6. New Mexico State: Despite going just 4-8 last season, the Aggies had one of the best offenses in the nation. QB Chase Holbrook (4,619 yards, 34 TDs) and WR Chris Williams (1,415 yards, 12 TDs) both return. The defense remains the biggest question mark.
7. Louisiana Tech: New coach Derek Dooley's first job is to improve a defense that ranked 118th in run defense and 119th in scoring defense at 41.7 points per game. QB Zac Champion and the top three rushers all return.
|2007 Conference Previews|
|Sun Belt||Big 12|
8. Idaho: Robb Akey replaces Dennis Erickson as coach and will try to improve the Vandals' 4-8 record last season. LB David Bobora and CB Stanley Franks are solid, but they will need to be better on offense.
9. Utah State: The defense returns 11 starters, including linebackers Jake Hutton and Paul Igboeli and defensive end Ben Calderwood, but the offense is unsettled at quarterback and running back.