HONOLULU - A three-game losing streak seems the least of worries facing Hawaii’s football program right now.
The Warriors (5-6) host Tulane (2-10) on Saturday, four days after news broke of an alleged point-shaving scandal involving Hawaii football players. An anonymous letter making the claims was sent to the school’s admissions office Nov. 3.
Hawaii coach Greg McMackin and school officials haven’t commented on the allegations. The Honolulu Police Department said there’s not enough information to launch a criminal investigation.
“I just try to keep an even keel,” McMackin said after the point-shaving allegations surfaced. “I try to keep focused on what our goal is. Our goal is to beat Tulane and then move on to the next game.”
Hawaii needs to beat Tulane and visiting BYU on Dec. 3 to qualify for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl.
“Tulane is all we’re focused on. We need to get the job done there, and then we can move on to the next ballgame,” McMackin said.
Hawaii will start David Graves at quarterback for the first time this season Saturday. Bryant Moniz, who started 27 consecutive games, fractured his right ankle at Nevada on Nov. 12. Shane Austin started last week against Fresno State, but was ineffective and replaced by Graves in the second quarter.
McMackin said Graves received about 75 percent of the reps during this week’s practice.
“I feel like my approach hasn’t changed that much because I feel I came to practice all year with a serious attitude, trying to get better every day,” Graves said. “Now, I’m going to get more reps and the guys are looking at me differently and I just want to step up to the challenge and get better.”
Hawaii trailed Fresno State 17-0 last Saturday before Graves sparked the Warriors to 21 consecutive points. Fresno State wound up winning 24-21.
“I like that he came in and moved the football and got us into the ballgame and got us ahead in the ballgame,” McMackin said. “He just has to get a better feel in there. He hasn’t had that many reps.”
Graves finished 13 of 27 for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and he was sacked four times.
“I saw a lot of plays, a lot of places in my game that I can get better at,” he said. “I left a lot out there, and I want to eliminate those mistakes and strive for perfection.”
Tulane enters its season-finale Saturday on a nine-game losing streak. The Green Wave have been outscored by an average of 42-17 during the skid.
“They don’t have anything to lose,” McMackin said. “They can just let it go and we’ve got to be ready to play.”
Tulane’s top players on offense are Orleans Darkwa, who has 190 carries for 853 yards, and Ryan Griffin, who has completed 215 of 380 passes for 2,400 yards.
“We don’t take anybody lightly. We’re focused on Tulane,” McMackin said. “They have a good running back and quarterback who’s been making big plays.”