2011 Hawaii Preview
Hawaii LB Aaron Brown
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Hawaii Warriors Preview
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The systems still work, and they're getting better.
Head coach: Greg McMackin
4th year: 23-18
Off. 25, Def. 22, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 30
Ten Best Hawaii Players
1. QB Bryant Moniz, Sr.
2. LB Corey Paredes, Sr.
3. LB Aaron Brown, Sr.
4. DT Kaniela Tuipulotu, Sr.
5. SS Richard Torres, Sr.
6. WR Royce Pollard, Sr.
7. OT Austin Hansen, Sr.
8. DT Vaughn Meatoga, Sr.
9. OG Chauncey Winchester-Makainai, Soph.
10. WR Billy Ray Stutzmann, Soph.
Sept. 3 Colorado
Sept. 10 at Washington
Sept. 17 at UNLV
Sept. 24 UC Davis
Oct. 1 at Louisiana Tech
Oct. 7 OPEN DATE
Oct. 14 at San Jose State
Oct. 22 New Mexico State
Oct. 29 at Idaho
Nov. 5 Utah State
Nov. 12 at Nevada
Nov. 19 Fresno State
Nov. 26 Tulane
Dec. 3 BYU
Hawaii knows what it is, it knows what it does best, and instead of trying to expand and become more diverse by utilizing more of a ground game and trying to load up on more run defenders, instead it keeps trying to take the strengths and improve upon them.
Hawaii could always throw the ball, and with legendary run ‘n' shoot coach combining with former star quarterback Nick Rolovich to teach the attack, the passing game keeps on rolling with a nation-leading 5,520 yards and 42 scores.
The defense was always aggressive, and now the coaching staff is looking to do even more to be disruptive creating an Elephant position to use as a hybrid on the front seven to help out a pass rush that cranked out 30 sacks and generated good pressure all season long.
Colt Brennan was great, and Bryant Moniz is bombing away just as well. Several stat-sheet filling defenders have come and gone, and the Warriors keep bringing in great athletes to get turned loose to make plays. Yes, the systems do work, and everything worked great at times being in the WAC, but to be a real, live, dangerous player in the Mountain West next year, the passing game has to rock, the defense has to continue to fly around, and there must be some tweaks and overall improvements.
The offensive line always seems to be in a state of flux, but to make the passing game even stronger the pass protection has to improve. Granted, it's hard to keep the quarterback clean on 618 pass attempts, but allowing 40 sacks is still a problem for an offense designed around getting the ball out of the quarterback's hand in a hurry. To win in the Mountain West against the better overall competition, the passing game has to still work and it has to be just a bit stronger, but developing the line is easier said than done.
The defense has to be better against the stronger running teams. Disrupting New Mexico State and San Jose State isn't hard, but next year the Warriors will have to stop WAC regulars Nevada, Boise State, and Fresno State along with Air Force and an improving Colorado State and San Diego State.
But there have been good improvements here and there depending on the personnel. Alex Green ran for 1,199 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, proving that there is a place for the ground game in the Hawaii attack. The coaching staff did a good job of helping the run defense rebound after a rough 2009, and the change in turnover margin was night and day better.
This year's team will keep throwing the ball as well as anyone in college football; even with four new starters on the line and with the loss of three key receivers. The defense will be among the best in the WAC at getting into the backfield; even with two new ends and a new pass rushing outside linebacker in the mix. Everything will work as normal because the systems keep on working for one of the most consistent teams in the game. And as always it's going to be a whole lot of fun.
What to watch for on offense: Who'll replace Alex Green? For all the talk and all the hype about the passing game, the running attack played a big role last year, too, with Green averaging 8.2 yards per carry in a monster season. Not only did he run for 1,199 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he also caught 27 passes averaging 13.4 yards per play. Also gone is second-leading rusher, Chizzy Dimude. JUCO transfer Sterling Jackson fits the system and 245-pound Joey Iosefa should be a thumper. The job is wide open for the taking.
What to watch for on defense: The Elephant. The Hawaii defense was already excellent at getting into the backfield, and now there will be a specific hybrid position called the Elephant working into the rotation. Junior Brenden Daley is the perfect fit at 6-4 and 255 pounds, but several linebackers will be auditioned for what should be a spotlight gig. Sophomore Art Laurel has the speed and the pass rushing ability, and Aulola Tonga can fly, but again, Daley might be the man to beat.
The team will be far better if … the special teams didn't stink. New placekicker Tyler Hadden should be fine in place of Dan Enos, and punter Alex Dunnachie has a huge leg and will end up with all-star honors before his career is up. But every other area of Hawaii's special teams are miserable. 111th in the nation in punt returns, 95th in kickoff returns, and 115th in punt coverage, there's a ton of work to be done. It isn't as big a problem for an offense that can erase field position in a heartbeat, but the defense doesn't need to start out with its back against the wall.
The schedule: As always, Hawaii plays an interesting schedule with plenty of big teams wanting to come to paradise to play. Starting out at home against Colorado will be a nice chance to make a statement against a Pac-12 team, but going to Washington the following week will be an even bigger test. Closing out against BYU will be tough, but getting Tulane and UC Davis at home, to go along with a trip to UNLV, makes for a not-that-bad non-conference slate. With no Boise State to deal with, the two toughest WAC games are at Louisiana Tech and at Nevada, while Fresno State has to come to Hawaii. Four of the final five games are at home.
Best offensive player: Senior QB Bryant Moniz. He showed excellent promise two years ago with 14 touchdown passes and ten picks after being thrown into the mix, and then he hit the ground running last year and was terrific from the start. After getting knocked around in the opener against USC, he went on a tea throwing for 330 yards or more in each of the next six games with 17 touchdown passes and just three interceptions. He had problems with picks late in the year, but 15 interceptions in 555 passing attempts aren't too bad. Throwing for 5,040 yards and 39 scores on the season puts him in the preseason WAC Player of the Year spotlight.
Best defensive player: Senior LB Corey Paredes. A tackling machine, he was great in the open field making 88 solo stops to go along with 63 assisted tackles, and now he'll bring his sideline-to-sideline range to a good front seven that should be more aggressive and stronger. He can get into the backfield if needed, but his worth is as a run stopper who doesn't miss a stop. He'll be the leader everything works around.
Key player to a successful season: Senior C Matagisila Lefiti. Call him the representative for a line that needs to be better in pass protection. Hawaii has always struggled a bit at keeping the quarterback upright, obviously because the attack throws so much. But Moniz has to stay in one piece and he needs as much time as possible to operate. Lefiti is taking over as the quarterback of a line that has to replace four starters, and he needs to be steady and mistake free from the start.
The season will be a success if … Hawaii wins ten games. There's no excuse to not have a nice base with at UNLV, UC Davis, at San Jose State, New Mexico State, at Idaho, Utah State, and Tulane all winnable. Even if the Warriors blow one of those games, they'll still be 6-1 and they should be good enough to come up with at least two wins against Colorado, at Washington, at Nevada, at Louisiana Tech, Fresno State, and BYU. Throw in a bowl game, and going 10-4 again isn't too much of a reach.
Key game: Oct. 1 at Louisiana Tech. Hawaii is always dicey on the road and great at home, but with two winnable games away from home at San Jose State and Idaho, to go along with the one problem date at Nevada, winning in Ruston could mean everything to the WAC season. If the Warriors beat Louisiana Tech before going into an off-week, a 5-0 conference start is possible before the Nevada showdown.
2010 Fun Stats:
- Total Offense: Hawaii 7,009 – Opponents 5,006
- 1st Quarter Scoring: Hawaii 127 – Opponents 47
- Punt Return Average: Opponents 14.3 yards – Hawaii 3.8 yards
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