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San Jose State football: Two wins from bowl game

Some of Brent Brennan’s best memories as a coach were made on the island of Oahu. From spending Sunday afternoons at Duke’s in Waikiki to exploring the downtown nightlife, Brennan enjoyed his one year as a graduate assistant for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football program.

His most recent memory of Hawaii is at the other end of the spectrum: A 44-41 loss in five overtimes in September of last season.

“I don’t know that I will ever get over that five-overtime loss,” Brennan said this week. “That one still hurts, but that was such an epic battle.”

The makings are in place for another wild one. San Jose State has the second-best passing game in the Mountain West. Hawaii has the best, its 353.6 yards- per-game average is third in the nation behind only Washington State and LSU. The over-under on this game is 79.

Here are some other things to know when the Spartans (4-5, 1-4 MW) meet the Rainbow Warriors (5-4, 2-3) at Aloha Stadium on Saturday at 8 p.m. (Pacific):.

BOWLING FOR AN EXTRA-GAME

This is a huge game in SJSU’s quest to play in a bowl game, its first since the 2015 Cure Bowl. Needing two more wins to be bowl eligible, the Spartans have three games remaining and of them is against Nevada-Las Vegas (2-7, 0-5). In other words, if they can win Saturday night, the Spartans might not be in a win-or-else situation in the regular-season finale against Fresno State.

Of course, no coach sees things that way, at least not publicly.

“We get to play one game this week,” Brennan said.

A GAME FOR DICK TOMEY

The Dick Tomey Legacy Trophy, announced in June, will go home to the winner of Saturday’s game. The award is named after the head coach who led both Hawaii and San Jose State in a career that ran from 1962-2011.

Tomey, who passed away in May, coached Hawaii from 1977-86. He coached San Jose from 2005-09. In his first season, the Spartans won nine games and went to a bowl for the first time in 26 years.

“I love the fact that the Tomey Legacy Trophy is a part of this game,” said Brennan, who co-founded the award with Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich.

Brennan and Rolovich have been close since the early 2000’s when both began their careers as assistant coaches in the NCAA. Getting to know each other during recruiting trips and other football-related functions, the two have built a friendship across the Pacific Ocean.

Through their conversations, the pair agreed that it would be fitting to honor  Tomey, a man who imparted valuable lessons to both.

Brennan tells the story of a game in his first season at SJSU — against Hawaii, in fact — when a penalty for excessive celebration penalty took the Spartans out of range for a two-point conversion. It ended up costing SJSU the game, and Tomey had some words for Brennan afterward.

“I’m not going to tell you the exact words — they were not great,” Brennan said. “It was something along the lines of ‘what are you doing? … You don’t need to apologize to me, you need to walk your ass to the locker room and apologize to those kids because you’re either coaching or allowing it to happen.’”

“He was always teaching, no matter how far away from the game he got,” Brennan said.

INTRODUCING THE NO. 12 OFFENSE IN THE NATION

Averaging 495.6 yards per game, the Rainbows rank 12th in the nation in total offense. Their 36.8-point scoring average ranks 20th.

“That’s something you always have to handle when you play Hawaii because you know they’re always going to score points with what they do,” Brennan said.

Using a dual quarterback system, the Rainbow Warriors present an interesting challenge.

“They do this thing where it’s almost at times they ride the hot hand,” Brennan said. “Both of them can hurt you running and throwing. They’re both fantastic athletes.”

They are Cole McDonald and Chevan Cordeiro.

McDonald has passed for 2,796 yards and 25 touchdowns. He also is Hawaii’s second-leading rusher with 335 yards (5.2 yards per carry).

Cordeiro has had his moments too. Rolovich uses him in much the way SJSU uses freshman quarterback Nick Nash — a select-down signal caller makes plays with his legs. He can throw, too. In fact, it was Cordeiro who rallied the Rainbow Warriors in their last game, a 41-38 loss to Fresno State as time expired.

 


Source: East Bay San Jose State football: Two wins from bowl game

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