Before the Arizona Wildcats’ game against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, we chatted with Mountain West Connection’s Bryan Doyle to talk about Hawaii’s travel schedule, the revival of Hawaii’s offense, and who will make an impact for the Rainbow Warriors this Saturday.
1. Hawaii has traveled over 20,000 miles already this season. Do you anticipate that travel schedule will take a toll on the football team?
Coming into the season the travel schedule was a major concern. No one was predicting a drastic turnaround, but when breaking in a new head coach, racking up that kind of mileage to play against Michigan, Cal and Arizona hardly makes things easy.
That being said, the outcome hasn’t been terrible. While it hasn’t exactly been beautiful to watch at times, the results are about as good as we could expect. We took a big loss to a very good Michigan team, showed some offensive signs of life against Cal, avoided the home upset to an FCS opponent, and are reasonably healthy. That is no small task when knocking out three games and 20,000 miles in three weeks. The fan base mantra has been "survive until conference play" and so far the team has done that.
2. In the past (under June Jones), Hawaii was known for its high-flying offenses. What is the hallmark of this year's team?
New head coach Nick Rolovich played quarterback under Jones’ high-flying offense and went on to coach the QB’s under Jones as well. He has built an offensive staff of former teammates from the Jones-era Hawaii teams who went on to run similar offenses as coordinators at lower division schools. I believe this young staff wants to air it out, but they inherited a stable of running backs from Norm Chow and an unclear situation at QB. Fortunately, Rolovich has been running variations of the Pistol and Run-Pass Option at Nevada these past few years, so he has been able to pivot to an offense that highlights the depth and versatility in the backfield.
3. What players do you anticipate will make the biggest impact on this week's game for Hawaii?
Keep an eye out for Diocemy Saint Juste and Steven Lakalaka. Saint Juste is a shifty back who has been plagued by injuries over the years, but has big play potential anytime he touches the ball. Lakalaka, on the other hand, was a one-time UCLA commit who flipped to Hawaii to play under Norm Chow. He is a downhill runner with a solid build. When these guys are at their best, Hawaii can move the ball
4. What is your prediction for the game?
Hawaii is not at the point where it can compete for four quarters with a Pac 12 school. The defense is decent when the starters are on the field, but there is an extreme lack of depth in the front seven. I expect both teams to have success moving the ball and Hawaii’s running game will provide enough big plays to keep it close in the first half. In the second half, if Ikaika Woolsey can find Marcus Kemp on a few deep balls, Hawaii may still be in the game, but I don’t think the defense can string together four solid quarters.
I’m predicting Hawaii 27 – Arizona 31.
Thanks to Bryan for answering our questions, and for more coverage of Hawaii and everyone else in the Mountain West, be sure to check out Mountain West Connection.