Sunday, July 9, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Nick Rolovich has come on board to coach this rambling wreck of a program, and has...gasp...made this team not so horrible. Rolovich gave this program some life after the mistake that was Norm Chow, and now Hawaii football seems to have a future again. The offense emerged as something to sometimes behold, and while the defense was horrible most of the time, this team did enough to get to a bowl game (stayed home in the Hawaii Bowl, beat Middle Tennessee), and was able to infuse some hope. Can that trend continue this season with a newly acquired target on their backs?
What To Be Excited About: Offense
The minds of Rolovich and OC Brian Smith are awesome things to behold. They can run speed with two slotbacks. They can run power with TE and H-Backs. They can go big with tall receivers, and they mix it all into one giant bag of fun.
Dru Brown is now the undisputed QB this fall after passing for 2488 yards and 19 scores against just seven INTs. He completed 62.4% of his passes, and should be even better this fall than last after taking over the starting job from Ikaika Woolsey, who moved on after last season. Brown added four scores on the ground, and is a perfect fit for this weird science offense.
Diocemy Saint Juste is also back at RB after breaking loose last fall for 1006 yards and three scores. With a more defined role, he could be even better this season than last. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry, and could be one of the more surprising backs in the MWC in 2017.
Amon Barker is back to start at WR after averaging over 14 yards per reception, but the real talent is at Slotback, where both John Ursua and Dylan Collie return. They combined for 86 receptions last fall, and combined for seven scores.
The line returns intact from Center to the left in LT Dejon Allen (who sometimes is an eligible receiver), LG John Wa'a, and C Asotui Eli. UCLA transfer Fred Ulu-Perry is eligible, and will start at RT.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The right side of the line is going to be new, even with Ulu-Perry coming on. Elijah Tupai will likely be the new starter at RG, and this tandem will need to gel quickly in the complex schemes of the offense, with sets changing on almost every play.
The PK will be brand new in sophomore Alex Trifonovich. Riboberto Sanchez was perfect on FG attempts last season at 13/13, and will be a major loss.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
The defense will be a work in progress once again, but will have a couple of different looks this fall, as they try to keep pace with the ever changing offense.
The talent at LB is deep this fall for the Warriors, as Jahlani Tavai and Malachi Mageo both return. Tavai was a beat last season with 129 tackles, and 19.5 TFLs, and was an All-Bilo national team member. He added seven sacks as well, created four QB hurries, picked up two PBUs, and forced two fumbles. Mageo finished with 78 tackles of his own, and will help form a LB corps that will shift depending on what coverage is called. He will play inside and out, and Tavai will drop into coverage, or line up as a rush end when needed. Ikem Okeke will fill out the starting unit at OLB.
The right side of the line will return intact, as DE Moffy Koloamatangi and NT Penitito Faalologo both return to the mix. They combined for seven TFLs last season.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The secondary returns just one starter in S Trayvon Henderson. He finished second on the team with 90 tackles, and finished with seven PBUs and three INTs. Both CBs are projected to be sophomores in Rojesterman Farris II and Zach Wilson, while Senior Daniel Lewis, Jr. will start at Safety.
The Punting job is open as well, as freshman Stan Gaudion is set to take over with zero experience.
The left side of the line is open as well. Senior David Manoa picked up 2.5 TFLs in a rotation role last season at DE, and isprojected to start, while Viane Moala, a sophomore, could be starting at DT.
Hawaii will be entering the season with their sixth DC since 2013 in Lagi Suiaunoa, so it will, again, be an adjustment period while the team adjusts to his schemes. Kevin Lempa left for Michigan after last season.
2017 Schedule: 8/26 at U Mass, 9/2 Western Carolina, 9/9 at UCLA, 9/23 at Wyoming, 9/30 Colorado State, 10/7 at Nevada, 10/14 San Jose State, 10/28 San Diego State, 11/4 at UNLV,  11/11 Fresno State, 11/18 at Utah State, 11/25 BYU
Final Overview
Hawaii, while maybe not being the most talented team in the league, is certainly one of the more exciting teams to watch, as their constantly changing schemes in games keeps teams guessing on both sides of the football. The offense goes from run and shoot to power football, to speed football, while the defense goes from 4-3, to add man, and shifts personnel all over the field. In any event, there is enough talent to win another seven games, and return to a bowl game, which would most likely return the Warriors home to the Hawaii Bowl. With the recent past being what it has been, I would say that this would be one heck of an accomplishment.

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