Hawaii's Moniz knows how to deliver

2009-12-01T20:30:00Z Hawaii's Moniz knows how to deliverTom Mulhern | 608-252-6169 | tmulhern@madison.com madison.com

The Hawaii football team's passing attack has been so good for so long, it doesn't seem to matter who is at quarterback.

From Timmy Chang to Colt Brennan, the Warriors always seem to find prolific passers.

They could put a pizza delivery guy behind center and he'd throw for 300 yards in a game.

Don't believe it? Consider Bryant Moniz, the current starter, a sophomore walk-on who delivers pizzas to help pay for school and support his daughter, Cali.

Moniz might be the most improbable starting quarterback at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

"It is an incredible story," Hawaii coach Greg McMackin said.

Earlier this year, Moniz was competing in something called the X-Flag Football League. "It was fun," he said. "It was good competition."

After attending Fresno City College in 2007 - he threw for 2,268 yards and 18 touchdowns - Moniz attended a local community college last fall to accumulate transferable credits.

A native of Wahiawa, Oahu, located about 20 miles from the University of Hawaii campus, Moniz led his high school team to the state championship game as a sophomore in 2004. He was seventh on Hawaii's depth chart when he enrolled in January and was third going into the season.

Moniz moved up to No. 2 when backup Brent Rausch suffered a broken finger against Washington State on Sept. 12. Starter Greg Alexander was leading the nation in total offense, averaging 446 yards per game, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 30.

That left the job to Moniz, who lost his first four starts. But he has keyed a four-game winning streak that has the Warriors at 6-6. They need to defeat the University of Wisconsin on Saturday at Aloha Stadium to qualify for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.

"Still alive, baby," safety Mana Silva told the Honolulu Advertiser after a 24-17 victory over Navy on Saturday night. "This is ‘Survivor,' the Hawaii edition."

The Warriors have adopted a survivor mentality during the winning streak, but they have been dealing with adversity all season. They lost senior middle linebacker Brashton Satele, expected to be their defensive leader, to a shoulder injury in the preseason.

Rodney Bradley, one of their best receivers, suffered a broken leg against Idaho on Oct. 17.

After Alexander went down, Moniz threw for 283 yards against Fresno State in his first start, then passed for 360 yards the next week against Idaho.

"He's very relaxed. He's calm. He's an accurate thrower. He gets it out fast and he can scramble," Boise State coach Chris Petersen told the Idaho Press.

Moniz suffered bruised ribs in a win over New Mexico State three weeks ago. He was injured in the first quarter but didn't come out of the game until the fourth quarter. Shane Austin made his first start the next week and threw for 299 yards in a 17-10 overtime victory over San Jose State.

"I just think they do a good job understanding the type of quarterbacks that they need in their system," New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker said.

Moniz returned last week against Navy and completed 32 of 44 passes for 366 yards and three TDs. Hawaii ranks third in the nation in passing offense, averaging 348.7 yards per game.

"I think they do a good job of getting you in space," Walker said. "They're pretty sharp. There are only a certain amount of defenses you can play, versus that offense. They've seen about every defense known to man. I think they do a good job with their quarterbacks and receivers understanding coverage and understanding routes and being able to read on the run."

Moniz has proven to be a quick study and is about to be rewarded for his meteoric rise. "He's going to be on scholarship real soon," McMackin said.

One more win and the Warriors will have completed a turnaround almost as unlikely as their starting quarterback's.

"I guess we're peaking at the right time," McMackin said. "The senior leadership, keeping this team together and coming back and winning four in a row, having a chance for a winning season and a bowl game, I think, really gives credit to the character of these players."

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