Cardinal Sins: Three Takeaways from Hawai’i Football’s Week 1 loss to Stanford

Cardinal Sins: Three Takeaways from Hawai’i Football’s Week 1 loss to Stanford

Cardinal Sins: Three Takeaways from Hawai’i Football’s Week 1 loss to Stanford 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED SEP 4, 2023

HONOLULU – The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors fell for the second time in as many games this past Friday, dropping their home opener to the Stanford Cardinal, 37-24. 

Much like the first game of the season for Timmy Chang’s squad, there were many positives to take away from the matchup against Troy Taylor’s team. Unfortunately for the ‘Bows, many of the same issues also persisted through Week 1’s loss after showing themselves against Vanderbilt. 

Without further ado, here are three takeaways from Friday night’s loss to Stanford before Hawai’i prepares to host the Albany Great Danes for Week 2.  


1. The defense is better than last year but needs to start making splash plays. 

Look all around the Hawai’i defense and you will see the new and returning pieces on that side of the ball for defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro and crew. From star defensive back transfer Cam Stone to true freshman corner Elijah Palmer, the newcomers made their presence known all throughout the ‘Bows home opener. 

For some reason, Stanford continued to test the pre-season All-Mountain West honoree Stone through the air. He answered the challenge across 24 coverage snaps, allowing just one reception for nine yards while being targeted five times. Stone finished as the top-graded ‘Bows defender in coverage by PFF, finishing the night with a 71.6 coverage grade and as the 2nd-best overall graded defender for Hawai’i (only behind defensive lineman Jonah Kahahawai-Welch) on the night with a 72.9 overall rating. 

Finishing right behind the senior Stone was freshman Elijah Palmer, a 2023 graduate of Bishop Gorman in Nevada. The Hawai’i staff has been incredibly excited for the newfound pipeline that has been created between the national football prep powerhouse and the ‘Bows program since LB coach Chris Brown left the Gaels and joined UH. Palmer showed why on Friday, earning the 2nd-best PFF coverage grade of all Hawai’i defenders with a 68.8 grade in his first career start for the ‘Bows. The nickel corner was all over the field, totaling seven tackles in the loss – good for 2nd-most among UH defenders. 

It wasn’t all peachy-clean for the ‘Bows. Stanford TE Benjamin Yurosek dominated all night to the tune of a game-high nine catches for 138 yards and a touchdown catch as Hawai’i defenders struggled to wrap up Stanford players all night (11 missed tackles in total according to PFF). 

On top of the struggles to finish plays, it was the second straight week the defense failed to produce an interception or fumble. With an aggressive offense in Chang’s Run-N-Shoot, turnovers are incredibly important to maximize opportunities. Not only were the ‘Bows struggling to get hands on the ball on defense but also struggled getting hands on the quarterback as well. Stanford sophomore QB Ashton Daniels was not sacked a single time Friday night, whereas Hawai’i’s Brayden Schager was taken down six times behind the line of scrimmage. 

Without pressure in his face, Daniels was able to dice up the UH defense in his first start for new head coach Troy Taylor. 

If the ‘Bows are to pull off upsets against bigger programs, it is imperative the defense begins producing turnovers and gets after the quarterback. 

2. Penalties continue raining on the ‘Bows parade 

Undisciplined play is a coach’s nightmare. 

Timmy Chang’s crew struggled with the amount of penalty yardage they gave up in Week 0 to Vanderbilt (7 for 59 yards against Commodores) before nearly doubling that negative output in Week 1 versus Stanford by being flagged 11 times to give the Cardinal 114 free penalty yards. 

Not only did they hand out over a full field’s worth of free yardage, but many penalties also came at inopportune times for the ‘Bows by extending offensive drives for Stanford. The visitors scored 20 points on drives that the UH defense was called for a penalty, including a back-breaking roughing the passer on third down with the Cardinal backed up and Hawai’i within two scores and more than 12 minutes left. 

Add in a pair of targeting penalties that resulted in immediate ejections for a pair of ‘Bows defensive starters and the errors became too much for the team to overcome. 

The defense of the ‘Bows was not the only culprit of sloppy play. The offense and special teams each had blunders that backed up the team just as momentum began to mount for Hawai’i. After falling behind in the first half, 14-7, a holding penalty backed up the offense for a 2nd down needing 20 yards to move the chains. A punt was the result, quickly giving the ball back to Stanford for another touchdown drive to go ahead two scores with less than five minutes left in the second quarter. 

If the ‘Bows want to compete for a bowl this season, the undisciplined penalties need to end rapidly. Albany, who held Marshall scoreless in the first half in Week 0, comes to the island looking for an upset of a program still searching for their first tally in the win column for 2023 and hopes the trend of Hawai’i hurting itself on the football field continues. 

3. Pofele Ashlock will challenge for an All-Mountain West selection by season’s end. 

Gross amounts of negativity to start these takeaways for a team who had lots to smile about following the first two outings of the year. While the Rainbow Warriors sit at 0-2 after two games, junior QB Brayden Schager leads the nation in passing yards with back-to-back career high games, totaling 706 yards to go along with six touchdown tosses to only two interceptions. The return to the Run-N-Shoot has resulted in a pair of games with three or more touchdowns to begin the season, something Hawai’i didn’t accomplish until five games into 2022. 

The biggest of all the positives though must be redshirt freshman wide receiver Pofele Ashlock. 

The 6-foot-1 pass catcher is the first freshman in ‘Bows program history to start their career with back-to-back 100+ yard receiving games and has now been honored twice as the Mountain West Freshman of the Week winner. He gave the world a taste of what could be expected going forward against Vanderbilt, demonstrating a high level of chemistry from fellow Texan Brayden Schager with seven catches for 127 yards and a score in his debut.  

He helped the ‘Bows pick up six first downs himself against Stanford, adding in a pair of touchdowns as he busts onto the college stage. After two games, the wideout leads the team with 15 catches, 241 yards and three scores. He also has been a yards-after-the-catch machine to start the year with 60 yards coming from the creativity of his feet after the reception. 

Ashlock’s 241 yards puts him atop all college wide receivers after Week 1, while his three touchdowns are tied with teammate Steven McBride for third-most in the nation for the season. He also has the most first downs among wideouts with 11 different receptions that have moved the chains so far for Hawai’i this season. 

In an offense with many strong and reliable weapons (and a quarterback that does a nice job spreading the ball around), Ashlock has distinguished himself ahead of the others as a go-to for Schager through two weeks. While McBride has produced, alongside Alex Perry and Koali Nishigaya, Ashlock continues to present issues for opposing defenses trying to shut down the Texas-connection between the WR and QB. The redshirt freshman is a star in the making, so it’s a good thing he’s been watching and talking to some other ‘Bows WR greats. 

Hawai’i drops home-opener, 37-24, as Stanford capitalizes on critical ‘Bows blunders

Hawai’i drops home-opener, 37-24, as Stanford capitalizes on critical ‘Bows blunders

Hawai’i drops home-opener, 37-24, as Stanford capitalizes on critical ‘Bows blunders 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED SEP 3, 2023

HONOLULU – The first game in the revamped Clarence T.C. Ching Complex for the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors football team saw a sea of 12,547 fans asked to don white for the home-opener, led by the newly-old-new named student section called the “Bowzos”, bring the energy from way before the game deep into the night.

The ‘Bows (0-2) fell on Friday night to the visiting Stanford Cardinal (1-0), 37-24, as Hawai’i’s mistakes during inopportune times proved costly. Hawai’i was penalized 11 times for 114 yards throughout the night. While Stanford did not play clean football either (nine penalties for 81 yards against the Cardinal), Hawai’i gift-wrapped six first downs via penalty to Troy Taylor’s team throughout the evening, extending drives that looked like the ‘Bows defense had gotten off the field for. 

Both offenses started the night slowly, as the first three possessions of the game ended in nearly identical fashion – 3-&-outs – before Stanford engineered a 12-play, 72-yard scoring drive capped off by an E.J. Smith one-yard touchdown run to open a 7-0 lead. 

Hawai’i’s offense finally started to power up on their fourth possession of the game, as junior QB Brayden Schager connected with six different receivers along an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that oozed into the start of the second quarter. Reigning Mountain West Freshman of the Week WR Pofele Ashlock continued his hot start to the season, closing the drive with a 7-yard TD hookup from Schager to tie it, 7-7, with 14:11 left in the first half.

Stanford quickly struck back on the shoulders of All-Pac-12 2nd-team TE Benjamin Yurosek, who caught three balls for 74 yards and a touchdown during the 5-play, 75-yard scoring drive that pushed the Cardinal back ahead, 14-7. Yurosek, a senior, continued to dominate all game as the ‘Bows saw a pair of key starters on defense get ejected for targeting throughout the night. 

One of those targeting ejections came in the red zone on the next offensive possession for Stanford, as ‘Bows safety Meki Pei was flagged late after a hit on Cardinal sophomore QB Ashton Daniels. Set up on the Hawai’i 5-yard line, the ‘Bows defense held strong for two plays before Bryce Farrell rushed it in from two yards out to put Stanford ahead by two touchdowns with 4:25 left in the second quarter. 

Hawai’i was able to chip on a field goal as time expired in the opening half, thanks to the heads-up play and quick reaction time of junior WR Karsyn Pupunu, who came up with a tipped ‘Schager Bomb’ at the Stanford 15-yard line with under 15 seconds to play in the half. The ‘Bows took a shot at the end zone, looking for a 6-foot-5 Alex Perry that ran out of room on the sideline due to quality coverage.  

Hawai’i kicker Matthew Shipley split the uprights as the clock hit zeroes to make it 21-10 as the teams went to the locker rooms. With the make, Shipley moved into a tie for fourth all-time in ‘Bows program history with his 43rd made field goal and sits two makes behind third-most. 

Stanford opened the second half with the ball and used senior RB Casey Filkins’ 47-yard scamper to quickly threaten in the red zone, already up two scores. Hawai’i’s defense hunkered down from there, shutting down three straight runs by the Cardinal to force a field goal and keep it within two touchdowns, 24-10. 

Hawai’i looked as though they would answer back, driving all the way down to the Stanford 10-yard line before the offense stalled. Head coach Timmy Chang continued to be aggressive on fourth down, but the Stanford defensive line got home to sack Schager and the ‘Bows would turn it over on downs without any points to show for a drive that took three minutes off the clock. 

Again, it was Yurosek, as the tight end jumpstarted the Cardinal offensive possession with two straight catches totaling 25 yards to push to the Stanford 42-yard line. After Stanford drove inside the Hawai’i 30, the ‘Bows defense forced an incompletion on third down that looked to get them off the field before a flag that Chang called “hard luck” was thrown on linebacker Isaiah Tufaga for targeting. 

Not only did the penalty end Tufaga’s night, but it also extended the Stanford drive long enough to add on three more points and make it a three-possession game with under 17 minutes left for the ‘Bows to mount a comeback. 

That urgency manifested itself with four straight gains to end the third quarter for the Rainbow Warriors, as Steven McBride finally got his first catch of the night for seven yards before Tylan Hines broke off a positive run for a first down. Then it was Ashlock again for 28 yards before Schager hit Alex Perry for an 11-yard completion to end the period and give the ‘Bows a fresh set of downs to start the fourth at the Stanford 24-yard line. 

Like the second quarter, Hawai’i would strike quickly into the new period as Schager connected with McBride on a fantastic catch by the senior wideout for a 24-yard touchdown. The ‘Bows went for two but failed, still trailing 27-16 with 14:52 left to play. 

The Hawai’i defense once again looked like they had forced a fourth-down decision for Troy Taylor after three plays, but a roughing the passer penalty on third-and-15 that was tacked onto a 12-yard completion gave new life to the drive. Stanford would go down and kick their third field goal of the half to extend the lead to 30-16 with 9:09 remaining. 

Feeling the pressure, the ‘Bows began to work quickly once again. Working short, Hawai’i picked up a pair of first downs to push just before midfield. Two drops and two heavy pressures (one on fourth down that turned into a sack) ended the possession and turned the ball over on downs at the Hawai’i 31-yard line.  

Stanford provided the knockout punch three plays later, as Daniels found senior WR John Humphreys in the back of the end zone for a 13-yard score to make it 37-16 with just 5:22 left. 

The ‘Bows would pick themselves up off the mat once again though, piecing together a 15-play, 64-yard scoring drive ending with Ashlock’s second TD catch of the night and third of the season. The connection between the junior QB and redshirt freshman WR continues to show positive momentum heading into next week and beyond. 

Reserve QB Dalen Morris came in for the two-point conversion try and was successful for the second time in as many games in short-yardage goal-line situations, cutting it to 37-24 with 68 seconds remaining. 

The ensuing onside kick would go out of bounds and the Cardinal would kneel twice to run down the clock. Daniels finished the night going 25-for-36 passing the ball for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns while scrambling for 42 yards on the ground. Casey Filkins led the rushing attack for Stanford, going for 67 yards on just six carries. Yurosek finished with nine catches for 138 yards himself, tearing up the middle of the ‘Bows defense. On the other side of the ball, the Cardinal defense racked up six sacks on the night, led by sophomore OLB David Bailey, who had three by himself. 

Stanford travels to #6 USC next week, taking on Heisman-hopeful QB Caleb Williams and the Trojans in a matchup of Pac-12 schools leaving the conference. USC will join the Big 10 following this season, whereas Stanford was offered membership to the ACC following this year. 

Hawai’i QB Brayden Schager set multiple career highs for the second consecutive game, throwing for 355 yards and 30 completions across 53 attempts. He also matched a career-best three TD passes as he cleaned up turnovers with no interceptions or fumbles all night.  

Ashlock led the receiving attack for the second straight week, going for 114 yards and two scores on just eight catches as he continued his star-turn to start the year. Junior wideout Koali Nishigaya set new career-highs with six catches for 52 yards as he continues to see increased action in the Run-N-Shoot. The former Saint Louis Crusaders standout is having a good 2023, as the former walk-on worked his way onto scholarship this offseason. 

For the second consecutive week, the ‘Bows struggled to get the rushing attack going after it was the team’s “bread-and-butter” in 2022. The defense also was unable to force a turnover again while the team struggled to get pressure against the Stanford line. 

Hawai’i is back in action at home next Saturday at 6 p.m. HST, hosting Albany (1-1) for the first meeting ever between the two programs. The Great Danes fell to Marshall in Week 1, 21-17, giving up three second-half touchdowns after holding the Thundering Herd scoreless in the opening half. 

‘Bows looking to “bring back Aloha Stadium feeling” ahead of home-opener

‘Bows looking to “bring back Aloha Stadium feeling” ahead of home-opener

‘Bows looking to “bring back Aloha Stadium feeling” ahead of home-opener 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED AUG 30, 2023

HONOLULU — The Run-N-Shoot is back, baby. 

Week 0 for the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors showed many things as year two of the Timmy Chang era got underway, but none were more prevalent than the effectiveness of the famous University of Hawai’i football offensive scheme. 

The best example of that? 

‘Bows junior QB Brayden Schager enjoyed a dynamic 2023 debut against Vanderbilt, throwing for career-best 351 yards to go along with three touchdowns (matching his performance against someone in ’22). Entering his first season without a quarterback competition at the start of it, the signal-caller looked in command of the offense as he tore up a Vanderbilt secondary that continues to look for answers after a tough showing last season.

The emergence of redshirt freshman Pofele Ashlock — who earned Mountain West Freshman of the Week honors for going for 7-127-1 on Saturday against the Commodores — coupled with new senior WR Steven McBride, who came to the program this offseason after being underused in the Kansas offense, gave a pair of go-to targets for the Hawai’i gunslinger to almost lead the ‘Bows to an SEC Week 0 road upset. 

Instead, UH enters Week 1 at 0-1 as they prepare to take on a rebuilding Stanford program under new leadership in former Sacramento State head coach Troy Taylor. The 2019 Eddie Robinson Award winner, also known as the Coach of the Year award for the FCS, takes over for a Cardinal program coming off a 3-9 season while also losing starting QB Tanner McKee to the NFL Draft.

Luckily for Cardinal fans, Taylor has experienced nothing but success as a head coach. In three seasons for Sacramento State Hornets, the offensive guru went 30-8, winning three straight Big Sky conference titles during his time for the FCS program. He also piloted Sacramento State to being one of the nation’s best offenses, finishing his three-year stop with averages of over 430 yards per game to go along with 43 points each night during a 12-1 finale season at the school.

Taylor has seen the game at all levels, playing quarterback for Cal Berkeley from 1986-89 before being drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 1990 NFL Draft. While his pro journey wasn’t long (he was released by the Jets following the 1991 season and signed by the Miami Dolphins in 1993 before ending his professional career), he has enjoyed plenty of success as a coach.

Heading into Week 1 of the college football season, the ‘Bows are looking to get back to the .500 mark for the first time since October of 2021 following a victory over New Mexico State. Without further ado, let’s take a deeper look into the names, numbers and matchups to keep an eye out for ahead of this Friday’s Hawai’i home-opener.  


 

History Lesson – Hawai’i versus Stanford (and the Pac-12, kind of) 

With just three total meetings before 2023, it’s tough to say there is any type of rivalry between the ‘Bows and Cardinal. In fact, with the last meeting coming over 50 years ago (they last played on Dec. 2, 1972), many fans in attendance Friday won’t have any memory of the last time Hawai’i and Stanford matched up on the gridiron. For Rainbow Warrior fans, creating new memories would be a good thing, seeing as Stanford leads the all-time series, 3-0.

While the history between Stanford and Hawai’i may not have an update to it in this century until now, recent results for the ‘Bows against Pac-12 compared with all other Power 5 conferences has been an area of success. Of UH’s last 12 wins over Power 5 programs, eight of them have been against the Pac-12.

In fact, Hawai’i’s last Power 5 win came in the 2019 season when the ‘Bows took down a pair of Pac-12 members in Arizona and Oregon State. Both of those wins came at home in the old Aloha Stadium, which has since been shut down and seen UH football games be moved to the Clarence T.C. Ching Complex. Last season, it was a much smaller venue than FBS teams typically have in terms of fan capacity (9,000 total fans could be accommodated).

After an offseason facelift and re-work, T.C. Ching Complex will be able to welcome 15,000 fans with open arms this season for Hawai’i home games. With the extra seating available, the ‘Bows are hoping to see 15,000 fans in white for a home-opening “White-Out” game against Stanford. 

With more space, ‘Bows players and coaches alike hope to get it feeling like the old days at Aloha Stadium, both on and off the field.

“It’s time,” ‘Bows WR Pofele Ashlock said Monday night. “I feel like this year is going to be a way better representation of how Hawai’i football is supposed to be played, so I definitely expect a whole bunch of footballs in the air and a whole bunch of touchdowns scored.”

“Something similar back to the Aloha Stadium-type of vibes,” Ashlock continued and smiled. 


 

Players to Watch Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

Brayden Schager – QB (Jr.) 

What will the Texas gunslinger do for his next act?

The FBS leader in passing yards after Week 0, Schager diced up the Vandy secondary to the tune of a new-career high 351 yards through the air as he showed off his new collection of weapons thriving in their new roles in the Run-N-Shoot offense. He spread the ball around well, targeting (and throwing completions to) eight different players in the 35-28 loss to the Commodores. 

While he did have a career-best day (27 completions set new mark for single-game for Schager), the junior signal-caller also tossed a pair of costly interceptions in the one-possession loss. In fairness, the first interception was an impressive play by Vanderbilt CB De’Rickey Wright on an attempted throwaway by the QB that floated in play too long and the second came during a point that he had to try and make something happen with time running out. He also only accounted for one true “turnover-worthy” play, according to PFF. 

(PFF defines “Big Time Throws” as following – “a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window”)

Looking back, Schager tossed 10 interceptions in 12 games last season and had 17 total “turnover-worthy” plays (via PFF). That put him tied for 26th-most turnover-worthy plays among FBS quarterbacks in 2022 and 2nd-most among QBs in the Mountain West. He did record 19 “Big-Time Throws” in his 12 games (10 starts) as well, good enough for a spot among the top-40 QBs in the FBS and tied with the 2023 NFL Draft’s #4 overall pick, Anthony Richardson.

To this point, Schager has been a sliding scale of excitement and head-scratching plays. If he can continue his mastery of the scheme while taking care of the football in 2023, he’s primed for a big year. He will get another good opportunity to show off his growth in Week 1 against a younger Stanford squad that is still figuring out who they are. 

Alex Perry – WR (RS-Fr.) 

The 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman quietly had a nice performance in the team’s season opener, totaling four catches for 51 yards against the Commodores. Just his second career game for the ‘Bows, the former 5A-Florida High School Basketball Player of the Year showed off some intriguing traits and presented another option for the offense to go to all around the field.

A former three-star recruit, he came into camp 20 lbs. heavier than last season, another testament to ‘Bows head strength and conditioning coach Kody Cooke’s offseason training program for the team. With added muscle, the lanky Perry still moves well and showed signs of ability for yards after the catch.

After Pofele Ashlock and Steven McBride combined for over 200 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Week 0, teams won’t be surprised by the dynamic wide receiver duo anymore. Luckily for the ‘Bows, the wide receiver room is far deeper than two names. Perry was the first one to show signs of chemistry with Schager in-game, but flew under-the-radar enough that he could sneak his way into being this week’s 100-yard receiver in this offense. 

Virdel Edwards II – CB (Sr.) 

The 6-foot-2 defensive back was the team-leader in interceptions last season, totaling three picks in 13 games (11 starts) in ‘22. He also finished second on the ‘Bows with five passes broken up in ‘22 for a secondary that got reinforcements this offseason in the form of preseason All-Mountain West selection Cam Stone, who came over from conference-rival Wyoming.

Edwards was tested in Week 0, as Vanderbilt threw at him eight times and completed four passes successfully against his coverage. One of those four completions was a touchdown to All-SEC selection WR Will Sheppard, a 6-foot-2 monster in his own right.

Things don’t get easier this week for the ‘Bows as they get to face another big-bodied wideout in 6-foot-5 senior John Humphreys. If the ‘Bows can shut down the Cardinal running game, this will be one of the next most-important matchups. 


 

Players to Watch – Stanford Cardinal 

E.J. Smith – RB (Sr.) 

Expected to be one of the two featured backs for Stanford this season, Smith is coming off injury that forced him to miss the final 10 games of the 2022 season. In his two games of action, he totaled 206 yards across 30 carries and three scores. He was also good for eight catches for 63 yards and another TD before he went down for the season.

The son of Pro Football Hall of Famer and Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith, he was a four-star recruit coming out of high school in Texas. Ranked as high as 48th by ESPN in the class of 2019, he appeared in just 10 total games across his first two seasons at Stanford. Getting a few more opportunities as a sophomore, Smith flashed before looking primed for a breakout in his junior season. 

Stanford HC Troy Taylor ran an offense that saw a 1,000-yard rusher in 2022 at Sacramento State, running the ball over 100 times more than they threw it. For a back who is looking to make up for lost time and doesn’t have much run on the metaphorical tires yet, Smith looks ready to finally take that step into being a premier back. It helps that he should also have a solid running mate to give him a spell when he needs as he comes back from the injury. 

For the ‘Bows, the defense had an impressive showing against Vanderbilt (minus Patrick Smith’s 21-yard TD rush in the opening quarter), allowing under two yards per carry over 26 attempts. That’s a good thing, considering it was one of the weaknesses of the ‘Bows defense last season. Among the 131 FBS programs, Hawai’i ranked 124th with a 56.2 PFF grade against the run. 

Taylor won’t hesitate to run the ball and test and see if that Week 0 performance was the new ‘Bows standard or just a fluke. 

Casey Filkins – RB (Sr.) 

Taking over in the backfield after Smith went down, Filkins had an admirable season before an injury sidelined him as well. The 5-foot-11 tailback rushed for just under 500 yards across five starts (7 total games) and found his way into the endzone four times.

He also was a factor in the passing game, coming out of the backfield to record 17 catches for 205 yards and another touchdown. At 206 pounds, the senior is also someone who could see blocking assignments on passing downs for the Cardinal. His strength, coupled with versatility, will help him get on the field often for a young team.

He’ll likely fall behind Smith in terms of touches, but Taylor’s offense has been friendly for dual-threat QBs in the past and Filkins’ blocking ability will be leaned on. He posted a pass-blocking grade above 70.0 on PFF in four of his seven appearances for the Cardinal in ‘22. 

John Humphreys – WR (Sr.) 

As previously mentioned, Humphreys stands at 6-foot-5 and 200 lbs. and in five starts had nearly 350 yards receiving last year. Taking a step up in role, he should be one of the main targets for *whoever* Stanford plays at quarterback.

While Sacramento State’s receiving attack was led by a tight end in 2022, it’s fair to think Humphreys could fill a similar role and in turn see production like Pierre Williams had for the Hornets last season. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound Williams finished second on the team with 723 yards and nine touchdown catches for the FCS program. 

Humphreys is about 20 pounds lighter than Williams but makes up for it with his height. He’ll give Taylor a reliable big target to provide his signal-caller with, as the senior had just two drops while being targeted 47 times last season. 


 

 What-2-Watch-4 & Final Thoughts – Stanford @ Hawai’i 

Before we head out, here are some keys to keep an eye on throughout the night as Hawai’i opens the newly renovated Ching Complex and hosts one of the few remaining teams in the Pac-12.

  • As floated before, run defense wasn’t the strength of Hawai’i a season ago. The ‘Bows passed their first test with redemption against the run during round two with Vandy but will face a more experienced backfield in Week 1. That doesn’t mean Coach Taylor won’t be aggressive too, as he slid into his answer about the aggression UH showed in Week 0 on 4th down and the impact it has on a game plan.
  • Can Hawai’i continue to have the same type of offensive success with similar efficiency in their second game of the year? The opener had a little bit of everything through the air, from “Schager Bombs” to the all-important underneath completions to move the chains. UH’s offense created plenty of opportunities and made a bunch of plays last week and even left some points out there with a couple redzone possessions coming up empty. Cleaning up some procedure penalties along with better efficiency on 3rd down could see the aerial attack become even more deadly in the encore. 
  • Will the UH run game re-appear this week? The offseason was filled with excitement for the second season of RB Tylan Hines, who enjoyed an All-Mountain West honorable mention to cap off the true freshman’s year. Week 0 saw Hines be mostly a non-factor, totaling less than 20 all-purpose yards in 10 total touches. That cannot continue going forward, as the offense will need Hines to build off the end of last season to balance an attack that has multiple weapons in the air. It also likely will not continue, as Chang expressed supreme confidence in the sophomore throughout camp and mentioned expecting him to get a lot of touches this season. Sophomore RB Landon Sims led the way in Week 0 with 38 yards on the ground for the ‘Bows, but it was a tough day on the ground for the Hawai’i offense. They mustered only 1.6 yards per carry, not able to truly play complementary offensive football despite their success in the opener.  
  • Who wins the turnover battle this week? Hawai’i had opportunities to flip possessions but saw interceptions bounce off the hands of ‘Bows defenders multiple times throughout the night. By comparison, Vandy was able to create a pair of turnovers to save both a touchdown and the game. UH was able to win on many of the margins in their first game but learned that turnovers can flip a script quickly in football. 

Hawai’i has a prime opportunity to reach the .500 mark for the first time in two years, taking on a rebuilding Stanford program in their first appearance under a new coaching staff. It’s a situation the ‘Bows are all too familiar with after experiencing it in 2022, but some of the talent on the Stanford roster has a chance to produce at high-levels quickly and Taylor comes in with a winning pedigree.

The ‘Bows are in no position to take opponents lightly and Chang has heaped praise on Stanford’s new head coach for his ability to put together winning teams everywhere he goes. That said, if the UH defense from the second half against Vanderbilt puts together a full game at home, the Cardinal might be one of the teams on the Rainbow Warriors’ schedule “on alert” everyone heard about. 

You can watch the game on CBS Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 5:00 p.m. HT on Friday, September 1. The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa will welcome back the legendary Satale family for “Family Reunion Weekend” while being honored on the field during the first quarter. Gates for “Kickoff at the Les” will open at 3 p.m. with live music and a DJ, concessions, beer garden, Keiki Zone and much more, but parking passes for lower campus must be purchased in advance for the game.