Going Deep

A Hawai’i football blog by the voice of Rainbow Warrior Football.

13 September 2018

The longest road trip of the 2018 season is this Saturday’s game against Army. It represents the second option team Hawaii will have faced in the last three weeks, and the Rainbow Warriors are hoping for a similar result to their 59-41 win over Navy.

In most ways, the challenges  will be very much the same. Army seems even more committed to the fullback dive than Navy, if that’s possible. Three of Army’s four leading rushers are fullbacks, led by former Kamehameha standout Calen Holt. When that inside running attack is working, as it was against Liberty, the numbers are gaudy, racking up 454 yards rushing. When an opponent manages to stiffen up the interior defense as Duke did in handing the Black Knights a 34-14 loss in the opener, Army was held to 168 rushing yards. Junior QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. is a solid, though unspectacular player, favoring his legs over his arm. He has thrown only 28 times, completing 12 for 2 TD’s and a 43% completion rate. Slow down the dive, and you slow down Army.

Offensively, UH will see much what they saw against Navy. The Black Knights will be physical and aggressive up front, and will be assignment responsible in the back end.Their liability defensively is a lack of elite speed at both linebacker and in the secondary, and that can be costly against the likes of John Ursua, Cedric Byrd, and JoJo Ward.

UH will need Cole McDonald to bring his A game; if he does, the Rainbow Warriors could overcome being a TD underdog and return home a perfect 4-0!

7 September 2018

 This Saturday the Rice Owls are in town to play what once was a conference rivalry game. This time it’s outside of conference, and the Owls are trying to rebuild from a 1-11 season last year. New head coach Mike Bloomgren has brought a new toughness to the program, and regards the school’s rigid academic requirements to be an opportunity rather than a challenge. “I was at Stanford, and we got the same kinds of extremely bright kids there as we do here”, said the first year head man. “We can do a lot of things because they pick up concepts and schemes so quickly.” He has a grad transfer from Vanderbilt in Shawn Stankavage, a power running back in Emmanuel Esukpa, and a pair of glue fingered receivers with Aaron Cephus and Austin Trammell.

On defense, his group gives multiple looks led by LB Dylan Silcox and NT Zach Abercrumbia. When an opponent puts the ball in the air, CB Justin Beckham and S Houston Robert can be counted on to cause problems. So far the Owls are 1-1.

For UH, they’d like more of the same, with fewer mistakes, not so you’d notice. QB Cole McDonald leads the nation in passing yards and TD’s, and the team is top 5 in offensive production. Cedric Byrd, John Ursua, and JoJo Ward all have multiple TD catches and are brutal to say with in space. Fred Holly is becoming the bell cow at RB, and McDonald can also run the ball.

Defensively, the team gives up some big plays but is proving adept at getting some stops. Jahlani Tavai leads the defense but others, such as Manly Williams, Ikem Okeke, and S Kaylen Hicks are all taking star turns as well. Special teams have been excellent and Ryan Meskell has been perfect on field goals.

 Aloha Stadium is the place to be on Saturday! Kick off is set for 6 p.m. Can UH make it 3 in a row?

28 August 2018

One down, 12 to go! After an explosive opener at CSU, UH will host Navy on Saturday and this will be as different as possible. Navy brings in its triple option attack with mind-blowing rushing numbers. QB Malcolm Perry has been described by head coach Ken Niumatalolo as the most dynamic player he’s ever coached at Navy. But don’t worry about Perry as a passer. He had three starts at QB last year and went 1-2 throwing the football. The Mids averaged 351 rushing yards per game in 2017 and expect to put up similar numbers this season.

Unlike the old juggernaut Oklahoma teams of the 1960s and 70s, Navy does not turn the ball over. They are terrific on 1st and 3rd down and score more than 30 points per game.

UH will attempt more of the same offensively. With Cole McDonald at the helm, UH threw for more than 400 yards and ran for 200 more. Navy is aggressive up front, but are typically average athletically in the back 7,  which should mean another banner day for Cedric Byrd and John Ursua.

The big challenge for UH defensively will be staying disciplined on alignment and assignment, and creating a few stops. Expect lots of points and explosive plays.

Hot Tip – Buy tickets now. Surprisingly, reat seats are still available!

21 August 2018

Finally, it’s here! The long-awaited start to the 2018 season is upon us, with UH getting a “Week Zero” game against conference foe Colorado State. The Rams are coming off a 7-6, 5-3 MWC season and a school record fifth straight bowl game. CSU has lost a lot of star power however, and will need to replace All Conference players such as QB Nick Stevens and WR Michael Gallup as well as two All MWC offensive lineman.

The expected signal caller for the Rams will be Washington grad transfer K.J. Carter-Samuels, and the leading returning receiver is Olabisi Johnson, while Izzy Matthews and Rashad Boddie will handle the bulk of the run game. On defense, the Rams will be led by LB Josh Watson, DL Richard King, and S Jordan Fogel. One uncertainty is the availability of HC Mike Bobo, who is in a Denver hospital being treated for a condition whose primary symptom is numbness in his feet.

For the Rainbow Warriors, there are new beginnings with six new staff members, and brand new schemes on offense, defense, and special teams. Offensively, UH returns to the run and shoot. The receivers are small but fast and will spread out opposing defenses. John Ursua, Cedric Byrd, Joe Ward and Devan Stubblefield are some of the names that will be frequent targets of either Cole MacDonald or Chevan Cordeiro. The big question mark on offense will be the line, where JR Hensley is the lone returnee.

Defensively, new DC Corey Batoon will bring a multiple front, attacking defense which should enchant UH fans. Jalani Tavai will spearhead the D from his LB spot. Some new players up front should help the depth. True freshman Blessman Taala might be one to watch, and the secondary should be better with Ro Farris and Eugene Ford at the corners, and Ikem Okeke and Kalen Hicks at the safeties. Nickel Manu Hudson-Rasmussen will be used heavily.

It’s hard to predict results with so many new pieces, but one thing is certain. There will be some wild nights this fall at Aloha Stadium!