2012 Hawaii Preview - Back To Norm
Hawaii CB Mike Edwards
Hawaii CB Mike Edwards
Posted May 20, 2012

CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Hawaii Warriors

Hawaii Warriors

Preview 2012

- 2012 Hawaii Preview | 2012 Hawaii Offense
- 2012 Hawaii Defense | 2012 Hawaii Depth Chart
- Suggestions or something we missed? Let us know
- Follow us ... http://twitter.com/ColFootballNews

By Pete Fiutak

Head coach: Norm Chow
1st year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 24, Def. 26, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best Hawaii Players
1. LB Art Laurel, Jr.
2. CB John Hardy-Tuliau, Jr.
3. DB Demar Dorsey, Jr.*
4. WR Billy Ray Stutzmann, Jr.
5. DE Paipai Falemalu, Sr.
6. QB David Graves, Jr.
7. LB T.J. Taimatuia, Soph.
8. OG David Lefotu, Soph.
9.. WR Jeremiah Ostrowski, Sr.
10. OT Blake Muir, RFr.
*if eligible
2012 Schedule

Sep. 1 at USC
Sep. 15 Lamar
Sep. 22 Nevada
Sep. 29 at BYU
Oct. 6 at San Diego State
Oct. 13 New Mexico
Oct. 27 at Colorado State
Nov. 3 at Fresno State
Nov. 10 Boise State
Nov. 16 at Air Force
Nov. 24 UNLV
Dec. 1 South Alabama

In theory this should work out really, really well.

Few programs in college football over the last several years have been associated more with high-octane offenses more than Hawaii, and now it has a coach who's considered by every measure to be one of the greatest teachers of quarterbacks in the history of the game.

Norm Chow finally got a head coaching gig after years and years of being a hot name for major openings, and now the man who helped bring Ty Detmer, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinert Heismans, and tutored Phil Rivers, Steve Young, Jim McMahon and a slew of other tremendous passers, will get to come back to his hometown to usher in a new era of Hawaii football.

The Honolulu native has traveled all over the college football world before coming back home just as the program makes a step up into the Mountain West.

In theory this should work and it should be the perfect fit, but that's what everyone thought when Rick Neuheisel took over as the UCLA head coach a few years ago and hired Chow as his offensive coordinator.

The problem is that Chow's work BYU, USC and NC State are well in the past. His stint as the Tennessee Titan offensive coordinator was just okay and the run at UCLA was an epic failure. Last year he did a good job with a Utah offense that was missing its starting quarterback, but still, it's been several years since Chow was a big-time name in the search for head coaches.

But now he's in a position to change all of that, sort of like June Jones did when he took his career to another level by doing fantastic things with the Warriors.

Hawaii didn't exactly fall off the map after Greg McMackin took over for Jones, and there were various degrees of success, but he was a defensive coach. Hawaii is about offense, offense, offense, and it's Chow who should tweak things a bit to run a more pro-style attack that still incorporates the high-octane passing game that has made the program so successful.

This year, the pieces are in place to get the offense rolling like Chow wants right away. He has to decide on a starting quarterback from several good options, but there isn't too much of a concern about coming up with the No. 1 guy NOW, like there would be at most places. The offensive line has to undergo a major overhaul, but it's a great-looking young group that has the potential to grow together over the next few years and be fantastic. The passing game will be great, but unlike past Hawaii teams there should be more of a ground game with a nice stable of backs for Chow and offensive coordinator Tommy Lee to work with.

The defense that was so amazing at getting into the backfield last season has to replace seven starters but is full of lots of athleticism and speed to continue to be disruptive. The linebackers will be productive and the line has enough depth to form a decent rotation. With a lightning-fast secondary, it'll be an interesting defense that will have its moments.

With the special teams certain to be among the best in the Mountain West, to go along with revamped offense and athletic D, the pieces are in place to make plenty of noise in the new league. And everything is there for Chow to show why he should've been a head coach a long, long time ago.

What to watch for on offense: A running game? It's not like Hawaii has totally ignored the ground attack over the years – it had a 1,000-yard runner in Alex Green in 2010 – the bread has always been buttered with the passing attack. Instead of the normal Hawaii spread passing game, Chow is implementing a high-octane pro-style attack that will still wing the ball all around the yard but will be balanced out a bit more. The offensive line has a good mix of underclassmen to build around while the stable of running backs is strong enough to keep feeding the ball to the hot hand. There's power with Joey Iosefa and Sterling Jackson, there's speed with Will Gregory and there's a ton of talent and upside with new recruit Steven Lakalaka.

What to watch for on defense: The secondary. The Warriors will stick with a 4-3 scheme under defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer and it'll continue to be aggressive up front, but the key to the season could be a secondary full of speed, athleticism and options. John Hardy-Tauliau spent last year making play after play at safety, but now he's moving over to a more natural corner spot to go on the other side of veteran Mike Edwards. Bubba Poueu-Luna and Mike Sellers are promising sophomore safeties who should grow into their jobs, but all the real star of the show could be Michigan transfer Demar Dorsey, a superstar recruit who could be the best defensive back in the Mountain West from the second he steps on the field – if he's eligible. Last year Hawaii had the same starting combination in the defensive backfield in every game but one, but the consistency wasn't there. This year the speed and talent have to translate into more production.

The team will be far better if … the run defense works. How do you keep the Hawaii offense from scoring? Keep it off the field. Last season the teams that had the most success running the ball ended up beating a Warrior defense that gave up too many yards considering it was so amazing at making things happen behind the line. Hawaii was 1-6 when it allowed 150 rushing yards or more last season with the lone win coming over a Tulane team that couldn't throw the ball a lick. The one loss to a team that didn't hit the 150-yard mark came against San Jose State, who bombed away for 366 yards. The defensive front seven won't be a rock, but it has to avoid getting gouged.

The schedule: Norm Chow gets to go back to face one of his old teams to kick things off with a trip to USC, and then the Warriors get a week off to prepare for ... Lamar. Chow also gets to go against one of his other teams, BYU, but that's on the road, too. There aren't a slew of home games in a row to hope for any sort of a run with the only two back-to-back homestands. A midseason stretch of three road games in four weeks could make-or-break the year, especially with the home game coming against Boise State. The Warriors miss Wyoming from the M-West schedule.

Best offensive player: Junior WR Billy Ray Stutzmann. He might not be the team's most explosive receiver and he's not going to always be the one who coaches worry about, but he led the Warriors with a steady 78 catches for 910 yards and four scores last season and now will move to the outside X position. He'll get to be used more as a field-stretcher but he'll also be the go-to guy for whoever is under center. There's talent along with plenty of options in the Hawaii receiving corps, but it'll all work around Stutzmann.

Best defensive player: Junior LB Art Laurel. On pure talent the best player on the Hawaii roster will be Demar Dorsey, but Laurel is the tone-setter who spent last year as a terror in opposing backfields. With decent size and great quickness he's able to hold up well against the run -finishing fourth on the team with 61 tackles – while also dominating as a pass rusher making nine sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and causing three fumbles. He might not be turned loose under the new coaching staff like he was last year, but he'll still be an ultra-effective playmaker for a retooled front seven.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB David Graves and/or Sophomore QB Jeremy Higgins. There are lots and lots of options to play around with and everyone will get their chance to be Norm Chow's starting quarterback. Graves was the No. 2 man last year who took over late and did a decent job, and while he can throw, he can also take off and run. Higgins is a baller, and walk-on Ikaiaki Woolsey is a wild-card who has just enough upside to warrant a longer look in summer camp. It'll be a slight shock if it's not Graves to start out the year, but it'll remain an open competition up until USC.

The season will be a success if … Hawaii goes back to a bowl game. The key will be not blowing the layups. Last year's Warriors inexplicably got their doors blown off by a miserable UNLV team and lose winnable close games to San Jose State and Fresno State. This year there are just enough easy games against Lamar, South Alabama, UNLV and New Mexico to provide a nice base of wins. Forget about beating USC or Boise State and road games at BYU and Air Force are likely losses. As long as Hawaii wins the games it's supposed to and comes up with a few minor upsets over a Colorado State or a San Diego State, it will be back to the post-season.

Key game: Sept. 22 vs. Nevada. The only team to beat the Wolf Pack in 2010 was Hawaii, who came up with a 27-21 thriller at home. Nevada hasn't beaten Hawaii on the road since 1948 in a 73-12 pasting, but now the two programs are out of the WAC and into the Mountain West in the conference opener for each squad. If the Warriors can win they'll be 2-1 going into the road games at BYU and San Diego State, but a loss could mean a rough 1-5 start before hosting New Mexico.

2011 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Opponents 41 for 258 yards – Hawaii 35 for 250 yards
- Punt Returns: Hawaii 26 for 227 yards and two touchdowns – Opponents 4 for 30 yards
- Fourth Down Conversions: Hawaii 12-of-19 (63%) – Opponents 9-of-16 (56%)
- 2012 Hawaii Preview | 2012 Hawaii Offense
- 2012 Hawaii Defense | 2012 Hawaii Depth Chart