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2012 Hawaii Preview - Defense
Hawaii DE Paipai Falemalu
Hawaii DE Paipai Falemalu
Posted May 20, 2012 2012 Preview - Hawaii Warriors

Hawaii Warriors

Preview 2012 - Defense

- 2012 Hawaii Preview | 2012 Hawaii Offense
- 2012 Hawaii Defense | 2012 Hawaii Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: The defense was tremendous at getting to the quarterback and getting into the backfield, and it wasn’t bad against the run, but it struggled way too much against the better offenses and was wildly inconsistent. Seven starters are gone, but there won’t be much of a problem filling in the blanks at linebacker or in the secondary. The defensive backs can fly and Art Laurel is a pass rushing terror of an outside linebacker, but they all need help from a retooled defensive front that has nice potential at all four spots even if the experience isn’t there. Defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer might not be as aggressive as the former coaching staff was, but he’ll make sure the pressure is coming from several spots.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: John Hardy-Tuliau, 73
Sacks: Art Laurel, 9
Interceptions: John Hardy-Tuliau, 3

Star of the defense: Junior LB Art Laurel
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore NT Moses Samia
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore FS Mike Sellers
Best pro prospect: Laurel
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Laurel, 2) CB John Hardy-Tuliau, 3) DE Paipai Falemalu
Strength of the defense: Pass Rush, Defensive Back Speed
Weakness of the defense: Veteran Line, Consistency

Defensive Line

The pass rush was tremendous last season from several spots, and while there’s lots of work to be done throughout the defense, the line has one excellent pass rusher to work around in 6-3, 245-pound senior Paipai Falemalu. Not just a pass rusher, he came up with 50 tackles with 4.5 sacks and six tackles for loss with a team-leading seven quarterback hurries. Very quick off the ball, he’s a blur when he gets a first step on a blocker. He’ll be backed up by 6-1, 260-pound sophomore Marcus Malepeai, a smallish defensive tackle who’ll move outside after making seven tackles.

Stepping in on the other side for Zack Masch will be 6-1, 260-pound sophomore Beau Yap, who’s built like a linebacker but has the potential to be a pass rushing specialist. He only made three tackles with a sack in his limited time. Strong, he should be solid against the run as well as a playmaker into the backfield, while 6-1, 250-pound junior Tavita Woodard will get a shot after spending last year mostly as a special teamer. The former JUCO transfer from Eastern Arizona JC has pass rushing skills and decent size.

Trying to hold up on the nose will be 6-1, 295-pound sophomore Moses Samia, a good, promising run stopper who got a little bit of work in making 11 tackles in his limited work. He’s not huge, but he’ll be active, while 6-2, 285-pound junior Siasau Matagiese serves as a backup last year after transferring over form Portland State. He made four tackles last season in a limited role on the inside.

Adding more bulk and size to the interior is 6-1, 300-pound senior Geordon Hanohano, a good part of the rotation last season making 18 tackles after coming up with 18 as a freshman. He can work on the nose or moved around in the interior, but he’s not going to do much to get into the backfield. 6-3, 305-pound senior Haku Correa got on the field for three games and didn’t make a stop before getting knocked out for the year hurt. A key part of the puzzle two years ago making 45 tackles, while also starring in the classroom earning Academic All-WAC honors, he’ll try to be ready to go.

Watch Out For … the nose rotation. Samia and Matagiese Have decent enough speed to get by, but they’re not massive. The run defense wasn’t a major issue last year, but these two have to shine so it’s not a problem this season.
Strength: The rotation. The second-teamers aren’t that far off from the ones. Everyone should be fresh in a steady rotation of players from all four spots. This should be an active, solid line that doesn’t get hammered on too hard.
Weakness: Sure things. The returning stars up front are … ? All four starters from last season are out of the mix with three new starters all but starting from scratch. There are plenty of defenders who look like they should be solid, but they have to prove it.
Outlook: The defensive front doesn’t have any all-stars, but in time there won’t be any major weaknesses. Last year it was good enough against the run to get by and great at getting into the backfield, and this season all the new options in the equation should get the job done with a little bit of time.
Unit Rating: 5


Junior Art Laurel went from being a speedy prospect to an absolute terror finishing fourth on the team with 61 tackles with a team-leading nine sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss. At 6-0 and 235 pounds he has decent size for the strongside, and while he holds up well against the run he’s at his best when he’s in space and on the move. He’ll work on the outside with senior Darryl McBride, Jr., a 6-2, 200-pound veteran who’s undersized but is tough. The Philadelphia native came in from Mendocino College and made three tackles, but with his speed and athleticism he could be a dangerous pass rusher.

On the outside will be 5-11, 230-pound junior George Daily-Lyles, who got on start in the opener in the middle against Colorado but ended up being mostly used as a special teamer making ten stops. A bit of a disappointment considering he was supposed to be a major prospect and a possible top tackler two years ago, now he’ll get his chance on the weakside along with 6-2, 215-pound junior Kamalani Alo. A safety last year, he made 11 tackles and was a key special teamer and now appears ready to be a decent part of the rotation and used mostly in passing situations.

6-3, 235-pound sophomore T.J. Taimatuia will take over in the middle after spending last year mostly as a special teamer. Really, really fast for his size, he should show off great range and can be a statistical superstar with the burst to fly into the backfield and the size to be a solid run stopper for the next three years. Adding more size to the interior is 6-3, 255-pound junior Brenden Daley, who’s ready to go after sitting last year out. He made 110 tackles with ten sacks for Ventura JC and can be used at any of the three linebacker spots.

Somewhere in the mix should be redshirt freshman Justin Vele, a 6-0, 240-pound tackling machine who came up with 384 stops for his high school in Honolulu. Big, quick, and with a nose for the football. He’s built for the middle but could be fine on the strongside.

Watch Out For … Taimatuia. All the tools and all the skills are there to put up huge numbers. He might not be a pass rusher like Laurel, but he has the talent and the upside to make 100 stops in place of Corey Paredes in the middle.
Strength: Laurel and the pass rushers. The Warriors aren’t going to change the way they turn their linebackers loose into the backfield. Laurel is a special pass rusher with an instinct to get to the quarterback, and this year he should flirt with double-digit sacks.
Weakness: Corey Paredes and Aaron Brown. The two combined for 210 tackles. Five sacks, and 19.5 tackles for loss as they terrorized offenses all season long. There are several nice prospects ready to go, but it’ll ask a lot for the replace the two stars of last year’s D.
Outlook: The linebacking corps was a major strength last season, but this year it should take a bit of a step back unless Daily-Lyles and Taimatuia can shine and combine for at least 150 stops. If nothing else this will be an active group that will get into the backfield and should swarm around the ball.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Defensive Backs

The secondary gets back two starters led by junior corner Mike Edwards, a 5-10, 180-pound former JUCO transfer from Coffeyville CC who made 43 tackles and a pick with 11 broken up passes. Extremely fast, he’s a strong kickoff returner with the wheels to stay with any receiver in the Mountain West. Now he has to use his speed and experience to pick off more passes.

5-11, 165-pound junior John Hardy-Tuliau spent last season at free safety finishing third on the team with 73 tackles with a sack, three picks and 11 tackles for loss. While he was a terrific stat-sheet filler as a defensive back, he really made a mark on special teams with four blocked kicks. He’s not all that big and is rail thin, but he’s smart and knows how to make things happen. He’ll work on the other side of Edwards at corner.

With Hardy-Tuilau moving spots, 5-11, 175-pound sophomore Mike Sellers will try to step in at free safety after making 30 tackles. Mostly a nickel defender and a special teamer, the former JUCO transfer who originally signed with Tennessee showed off nice skills and upside. He was a big get for the Warriors, but he has to start putting up big numbers and he has to be steady.

Sophomore Bubba Poueu-Luna will take over the starting strong safety job from Richard Torres after spending last year as a special teamer and making two tackles. While he’s not huge at 5-11 and 175 pounds, he can flat out fly with track speed and excellent all-around athleticism. He needs to show he can hold up against the run, while 5-11, 190-pound junior Charles Clay will try to finish off the transition from wide receiver. While the former SMU Mustang is still learning on the fly and is still working as a special teamer, he’s special at forcing fumbles with three big plays to go along with 15 tackles.

Apparently on the way in a major coup is Demar Dorsey, a five-star, superstar recruit for Michigan who was supposed to be a key part of the Wolverine secondary and then, supposedly, was going to take off to Florida State. Instead, the top defensive back at Grand Rapids Community College will be the best talent in the Warrior defense by far as long as everything passes with the NCAA.

 5-9, 175-pound senior Kawika Ornellas got a start against Tulane at corner late last year and was a spot-starter two years ago. He made 12 tackles in his limited time, and now he’ll work behind Hardy-Tuliau in the rotation with phenomenal speed and potential to do more as a nickel and dime defender. A Hawaii state champion-level sprinter, he has the wheels to stay with anyone, while 5-8, 170-pound sophomore corner Dee Maggitt will be used in nickel situations and behind Edwards. He’s not big, but he’s a speedster who isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty.

Watch Out For … Sellers. He always seemed to produce when he got his chances getting three starts, and now the free safety job is his. Consider it a shocker if he’s not one of the team’s top five tacklers and a dangerous playmaker when the ball is in the air.
Strength: Speed. This group can really, really move. Ornellas can fly, and he’s mainly a backup. There’s terrific athleticism and quickness at all four spots with raw speed to run with any receiving corps in the Mountain West without a problem. Now it all has to translate into more …
Weakness: Production. Last year’s secondary could fly, too, but it didn’t seem to matter against the teams that could throw. Louisiana Tech, Nevada, and BYU were all able to bomb away without a problem giving up 3,184 yards and 28 touchdowns on the year.
Outlook: Even a superior pass rush didn’t seem to help the cause for a secondary that had speed and athleticism. Wheels aren’t a problem with this year’s group, but will there be any production in coverage? Edwards and Hardy-Tuliau should be terrific corners with time, and the safeties will be fine, but everyone has to hold up on a consistent basis.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

Sophomore Tyler Hadden tried to step in for the ultra-reliable Scott Enos and struggled hitting just 5-of-10 attempts missing four kicks in the middle of a key stretch. However, three of thekicks were blocked. He’ll get another shot and now he needs to show what he was considered a top kicking recruit. He has range, but ne needs to show it off.

The punting game was a major plus with 6-4, 220-pound senior bomber Alex Dunnachie averaging just 39.7 yards per kick. However, he forced a whopping 31 fair catches, put just 18 inside the 20 and booted just one kick in the end zone. He can blast away when needed, but he was far more effective hanging it high.

Receiver Scott Harding came up with a decent year returning punts, averaging 7.4 yards per try, but he didn’t bust out any big ones. He’ll get a second chance, while corner Mike Edwards will once again be the main man on kickoff returns after averaging an impressive 24.7 yards per try.

Watch Out For … Hadden to do more deep. He has the leg, showing it off with a 47-yarder, and now he has to show he can be consistent. He’ll get more chances to try the deep bombs this year.
Strength: Dunnachie. Opponents were able to come up with four - four? - returns because Dunnachie was so great at hanging his kicks up. Coaches will take a 40-yard net gain every punt.
Weakness: Punt returns. Harding was good, but he wasn’t anything special. The offense doesn’t exactly need great field position to produce, but it would be nice if Harding was a bit more dangerous.
Outlook: If Hadden can be better the special teams could be terrific. Blocked kicks were a big deal, for good and bad, blocking five but giving up six. The coverage teams should be great and Dunnachie is a weapon. There’s enough experience across the board to be just as good.
Unit Rating: 7.5

- 2012 Hawaii Preview | 2012 Hawaii Offense
- 2012 Hawaii Defense | 2012 Hawaii Depth Chart