‘Bows look to escape doghouse against scrappy visiting Albany Great Danes

‘Bows look to escape doghouse against scrappy visiting Albany Great Danes

‘Bows look to escape doghouse against scrappy visiting Albany Great Danes

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED SEP 8, 2023

HONOLULU – Two games in, it hasn’t been the start to the season Hawai’i football was looking for. 

Progress and potential oozes from everywhere on the field for the ‘Bows, as dynamic weapons on offense like Steven McBride and Pofele Ashlock continue to make plays in both practices and games while putting up numbers that compete for tops in the country after two weeks. The defense added bigger and faster athletes in the offseason, including a couple transfers who have already put fingerprints all over the positive moments from the first pair of games in CB Cam Stone and DL Kuao Peihopa. 

The Rainbow Warriors even have the nation’s leader in passing yards in junior QB Brayden Schager, who followed up a career-best level game in Week 0 with an even better performance against Stanford. He’s up to 706 passing yards and six TD passes through two weeks, just one season after it took UH quarterbacks nine games to reach the same number of passing TDs.  

All that sounds wonderful, but it has still resulted in zero wins and two frustrating losses. That is not an outsider’s perspective either. UH edge rusher Andrew Choi said as much on Tuesday, sharing how the team felt as though it had opportunities come away with a pair of wins but “too many mental errors [and] too many mistakes” sank the ‘Bows. 

While there is no time machine to go back and fix the mistakes already made, Hawai’i will get another chance to right the wrongs from the first two weeks of the season as they host the Albany Great Danes of the FCS on Saturday at Clarence T.C. Ching Field. It will be the first meeting ever between the two programs when the action kicks off at 6 p.m. HT in Manoa. 


 

Tale of the Tape – First Meeting Between ‘Bows and Great Danes

Like previously stated, these two programs have never met. The Great Danes, who hail from the Coastal Athletic Association (formerly the Colonial Athletic Association), enter the Week 2 matchup against the ‘Bows having already experienced a W this season after dismantling Fordham in Week 0. 

That season-opening performance saw Albany rack up 10 sacks, a number that remains the same after the team failed to take down the QB in last week’s loss at Marshall. Leading the way and setting the program’s single-game sack record with 4.0 sacks of his own against Fordham was senior defensive lineman Anton Juncaj, the reigning CAA defensive player of the week as the Great Danes set up to take on their second FBS opponent in as many weeks. 

Speaking of that FBS school, Hawai’i has enjoyed considerable success against FCS programs this century. Since 2001, the Rainbow Warriors have won 19 straight matchups versus the Football Championship Subdivision by an average of 26.7 points per matchup. In 15 of the last 16 seasons, UH has played at least one FCS program. 

The ‘Bows may have won bunches against similar programs, but they would be wise to take caution with the Great Danes coming to the islands. Albany enters Week 2 off a loss to a quality FBS program in Marshall, leading the Thundering Herd into the fourth quarter before falling late. The Albany defense held Marshall scoreless through two quarters, entering halftime leading 3-0. 

The Hawai’i football program likely has more overall talent than this Albany team, but the ‘Bows are still a young unit trying to learn how to win. That complicates things more than veteran-led teams with track records of success at the college level. 

Saturday presents another prime opportunity for Timmy Chang’s team to register their first win of the season and jump-start their learning curve on how to win. 


 

Players to Watch – Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors

Steven McBride – WR (Sr.) 

McBride enters Saturday tied with Pofele Ashlock for the team lead in touchdown catches, each hauling in three TDs in two weeks so far. While Schager has shown a tendency to spread the ball around with a bevy of offensive weapons at his disposal, the wideout duo has separated themselves above the rest as the go-to targets when it comes to scoring looks. 

It’s been Ashlock with two games over 100 yards receiving so far, twice being named the Mountain West’s freshman of the week to kick off his career for the ‘Bows. The redshirt freshman developed a connection with his fellow Texan in Schager that teams will have to take notice of going forward. 

The same could be said for McBride, even though some might think of him as just a “Schager Bomb” threat. The 6-foot-1 pass-catcher had a quiet first half against Stanford before finding some space in the second half and coming down with a spectacular touchdown catch to begin the fourth quarter for UH. Otherwise, the Cardinal did a nice job limiting downfield opportunities for the speedster after his torching of the Vanderbilt secondary.

Week 2 presents a new challenge for McBride and the ‘Bows against a stingy Albany defense allowing 17 points a contest. The Great Danes have yet to allow a 100-yard receiver this season and recorded the team’s first interception of the season last week against Marshall. Hawai’i didn’t have a turnover in Week 1 but had a pair of giveaways against Vanderbilt in the season opener. 

McBride is a big-play threat on any snap. The question becomes if the ‘Bows can get him free as he continues to break out after transferring from Kansas. 

Elijah Palmer – DB (Fr.) 

The true-freshman defensive back from Bishop Gorman is part of the first group of the fresh pipeline between the Nevada prep football powerhouse and Hawai’i, cultivated by UH LBs coach Chris Brown. It’s easy to see why the whole staff is excited about the future of the pipeline after early returns. 

Palmer started his first game for the ‘Bows in the home-opener against Stanford and rewarded the coaches with seven tackles, good for second-most among Rainbow Warriors defenders in the 37-24 loss. The slot corner could be found involved in plays all over the field last Saturday night, finishing with UH’s second-best coverage grade via PFF of the night. 

The only player better than Palmer for the ‘Bows in coverage was Stone, who left late in the Stanford loss after suffering a knee injury on a special teams return. While Stone tweeted out that he was okay the next day, the defensive back is questionable going into this weekend’s matchup. 

Should the Hawai’i coaching staff decide to rest Stone while he recovers and works back towards 100%, it’ll be important for the rest of the corner room to step up in his absence. Luckily for the ‘Bows, corner is arguably the team’s deepest position group with Virdel Edwards II leading the way and JoJo Forest continuing to put together a solid senior season. 

Palmer may be tasked with defending electrifying junior Albany wide receiver Ray Alexander, who tallied a pair of touchdown catches in Week 0 against Fordham and has proven to be extra quick through his time returning kicks for the Great Danes. If Palmer can help keep Alexander at bay and continue his quick adjustment to the college game, the ‘Bows will be in a good spot. 

Logan Taylor – LB (Sr.) 

Taylor finished with a team-high 85 tackles in 2022, filling in admirably after fellow LB Isaiah Tufaga went down with an injury that didn’t allow him to return for the rest of the season. The 2023 defensive captain led UH in tackles in each of the final six games of the season while Tufaga recovered from injury. 

After an ejection from a tough targeting penalty in the second half of the ‘Bows loss to Stanford, Tufaga is forced to miss the first half of the next contest. Once again, it’ll be Tufaga out and Taylor taking control of the middle of the field for “the Lion’s Den” against the Great Danes. 

It will be important for the Rainbow Warriors to not just start quick offensively but also hold Albany’s offense at bay. Although head coach Greg Gatturo did not make the trip for the Great Danes, the visitors will be in good hands with associate head coach and offensive coordinator Jared Ambrose calling the shots. 

When Ambrose was first introduced as part of the staff, Gatturo said that he had been impressed by the energetic Ambrose’s “ability to utilize his personnel to attack defenses based on strength of his players,” and added that the former Delaware offensive coordinator “understands the importance of a strong and consistent run game.” 

With an athlete at QB for the Danes who is unafraid to run and a coach who will remain committed to the run to tire out defenses, it’ll be paramount that Taylor continues to be the communicator and leader in the middle for Hawai’i with Tufaga out. 


 

Players to Watch – Albany Great Danes 

Anton Juncaj – EDGE (Sr.) 

As mentioned before, the defensive edge rusher comes into the contest against Hawai’i as the reigning CAA defensive player of the week. The 6-foot-3 senior tallied four sacks against Fordham in Week 0 before chipping in three tackles against Marshall. 

The ‘Bows have seen some issues in sack numbers, giving up nine total in two games so far and six in last week’s loss to Stanford. On top of that, UH’s rushing attack has been slow to begin the year after playing a pair of Power 5 opponents. 

If Juncaj is able to get similar penetration against the Rainbow Warriors like he did against Fordham, it could be a long day for the running game once again and Schager could be forced to move around more than Chang and company would prefer. 

It does provide a chance for a Hawai’i offensive line, one that saw plenty of fresh faces join it after the 2022 season, another chance to establish itself with a cohesive look after switching to the Run-N-Shoot fully. Juncaj (and company) will look to continue the questions about the Hawai’i run game and pass protection through Saturday night. 

Roy Alexander – WR/KR (Jr.) 

One of the more diverse skill players on the roster, junior receiver Roy Alexander doubles as a solid kick returner for the Great Danes. He has averaged nearly 30 yards per return to start this season and can be one of the main outlets for QB Reese Poffenbarger on offense, helping move the chains on four of his six Week 0 catches. 

Alexander was quiet in Week 1, albeit on only eight snaps where he ran routes against Marshall. That performance doesn’t take any attention away from the 5-foot-10, 200-pound receiver. 

If he is a full-go, look for him to try to impact the game in the little ways and find hidden yards on special teams. If the ‘Bows can limit him in the return game, they have the tools to hold him to a quiet Week 2. If they allow him to get his momentum started on specials and carry over? A performance far like Week 0 could be in store for Alexander. 

Reese Poffenbarger – QB (Soph.) 

The sophomore quarterback transferred to Albany after redshirting his first year at Old Dominion and set the CAA on fire as a redshirt freshman for the Great Danes. In a 2022 season that saw him named as the Coastal Athletic Association’s offensive rookie of the year and all-CAA 3rd-team selection, Poffenbarger threw for 2,999 yards while completing 62% of his passes.  

While his early success was impressive, it was his ability to take care of the ball while allowing the offense to work for him that helped him to the honors. In his first season for the Purple and Gold, he threw 24 touchdowns and only four interceptions in 11 starts. His efforts led him to a runner-up finish for the 2022 Jerry Rice Award, given each year to the top FCS freshman. 

Expectations are there now for the redshirt sophomore. He was given an all-CAA preseason honorable mention for this year and was one of 35 players named to the 2023 Walter Payton Award preseason watch list, an award given annually to the FCS Division I offensive player of the year. 

While his arm and decision-making are each high-quality, the 6-foot signal caller also has the ability to take off and run when the defense allows. Last week against Marshall, he scrambled his way 54 yards into the endzone to put the Great Danes ahead by 10 in the second half. 

A week after struggling to get home against Stanford’s Ashton Daniels, Hawai’i needs to find a way to get pressure against Poffenbarger if they want any chance to force the QB into a mistake for a turnover. 


 

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

Just a few more things to keep an eye out for, some key storylines and questions as the ‘Bows continue to fight towards their first victory of the 2023 season while welcoming a new foe to the arena. 

  • Is this the week the Hawai’i defense finally forces a turnover? Strange things in sports “are more normal than normal is normal,” if you catch my drift. Albany has a quarterback that took care of the ball better than almost anyone in the country last season going into year two of the scheme, but Hawai’i has a lot of talent in the secondary. Can they bring in an interception, or maybe punch the ball out to force and recover a fumble? Turnovers are a need for a team as aggressive on fourth down as the ‘Bows. 
  • Brayden Schager was able to piece together back-to-back games with no interceptions twice last season. After playing a beautiful game against Stanford taking care of the football, the junior has an opportunity to accomplish back-to-back games without a pick for the first time this season. It’ll be important not to give extra possessions to an Albany team that doesn’t hand out too many free ones themselves. 
  • Who from the WR room has a breakout game this week? It seems that every time the ‘Bows step on the field, another name is producing in the RNS scheme. Against Stanford, it was Koali Nishigaya and Karsyn Pupunu joining in the fun for UH receivers. Before them, Alex Perry, Ashlock and McBride all enjoyed career-best outings against Vanderbilt. Every week, multiple players get a chance to have a big game. Who will it be this week? 
  • Can Hawai’i get Tylan Hines going? The shifty back has gotten praise after a promising freshman campaign but has struggled to get going in the early portion of 2023. He hasn’t gotten a ton of touches, averaging seven carries per contest so far and only gaining a net total of 20 yards. Against an FCS school, can the ‘Bows offensive line open some holes for the lightning-quick back to explode through and spark his season as we creep closer to conference play? 

Hawai’i started the first year of Timmy Chang’s tenure with three straight losses and stare a similar fate in the face if the ‘Bows aren’t prepared to take on an Albany program hungry for an FBS upset after coming up short just a week ago. 

The ‘Bows offense took a little time to get fired up in the home opener in front of over 12,000 fans in white attire. They’ll need to have all cylinders firing at full steam come kick-off Saturday night. 

No more screwing around, no more hurting themselves with penalties. If the Rainbow Warriors expect to compete in a competitive Mountain West, it’s time to start racking up the W’s by winning their 20th straight game versus an FCS opponent. 

The game will be broadcast on Spectrum Sports with kickoff scheduled for 6:00 p.m. HT on Saturday, September 9. It’ll be “Legend of the Run-N-Shoot Night” as the University of Hawai’i at Manoa welcomes back Bryant Moniz, Chad Owens and Greg Salas to campus for a chance to visit with fans and will be honored during the first quarter. Gates will open at 3 p.m. for “Kickoff at the Les”, which will feature a live musical performance by Chardonnay for fans in attendance while working alongside a DJ to keep the party going. There will also be concessions available for fans, along with a Keiki Zone and Heineken Beer Garden among other things. 

Reminder that parking passes for lower campus must be purchased in advance for the game. 

‘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.