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Edwards has had his fill of QB controversy

Drew Miller is positively thrilled about completing his first collegiate pass. Paul Shoemaker is probably still woozy, having absorbed a nasty blow to the head. LaVell Edwards is frustrated with the amount of time expended in analyzing his team's quarterback situation and tired of answering QB-related questions.

And in the aftermath of BYU's plodding 17-3 victory over Hawaii on Saturday, Miller, Shoemaker and Edwards concur: Winning is all that matters.The Cougars, who threw for 89 yards against the 'Bows, apparently are content to rely on their ground game - at least, perhaps, until injured starter Kevin Feterik returns in 3-4 weeks.

For now, the aerial circus has left town - much to the chagrin of many BYU fans - and running back Brian McKenzie is the centerpiece of the Cougar offense. McKenzie carried the ball 30 times for 120 yards, accounting for almost half of BYU's total offense (242 yards). The Cougars also ran (45 times) twice as often as they passed (22 times).

Shoemaker said it was all part of the game plan. "We wanted to come in and run," he explained. "We won, and that's the most important thing."

In his second career start, Shoemaker completed 7 of 15 passes for 66 yards. He threw an interception, too, as he was drilled by Hawaii linebacker Doug Rosevold. As a result of the hit, doctors sewed six stitches above Shoemaker's chin.

The junior conceded that "17 points is not going to cut it every time . . . I think everyone is disappointed in the way we played. But a win is a win."

True freshman Miller took over for three series in the third quarter and was just happy to be playing. "It was awesome," he said of his first completion, a two-yard toss to Aaron Roderick. "I had some butterflies out there, but it felt good . . . College football is unbelievable. You can't help but have a good time."

Miller was 3-of-7 for 23 yards and an interception. "I made a real stupid throw," he said of the pick.

As for Edwards, let's just say he isn't masking his frustration over the constant QB scrutiny. He reaffirms he has confidence in all his quarterbacks, adding he couldn't care less about stats and style points. "We are finding ways to win," he said. "I'm not going to get into what-ifs. You can interpret it any way you want, but I'll keep saying the same thing."

Fortunately for BYU's sputtering offense, the schedule is light the upcoming three weeks, starting with Texas Christian next Saturday at home, then UTEP and Tulsa.

LITTLE GUY, BIG PLAY: How do you replace James Dye? A little Dab will do ya.

And we do mean little. True freshman Jaron Dabney is listed at 5-foot-6. On Saturday, his first-quarter 83-yard punt return for a touchdown got bigger and bigger as the game went on. As it turned out, it was one of BYU's two TDs on the day.

The speedster from Sealy, Texas, has shown flashes of Dye, who led the nation in punt returns in 1995 and electrified Cougar Stadium crowds. Edwards doesn't mind the prospect of having Dab-ney for four years.

"He's got a lot of excitement about him," said Edwards. "He'll figure in as a running back down the road. He's got great running instincts."

Dabney made a name for himself with a 70-yard kickoff return against Utah State, and his 27.2 yard kick-return average is among the nation's best. But punt returns have been another story: The Cougars were almost last in the nation in punt returns with a 2.4 yard average.

"This week we told ourselves we had to do something," said Dabney. "We've been horrible." All told, Dabney had 155 yards on six punt returns on Saturday.

GO FIGURE: As if we needed further evidence that college football is a wacky business, consider this:

To open the 1997 season, Hawaii beat Minnesota, the same Golden Golpher squad that nearly shocked then No. 1 Penn State on Saturday. Further, Hawaii downed Fresno State on Oct. 11, the same Bulldog team that just handed No. 18 Air Force its first loss of the year.