2013 Hawaii Preview - Defense

Posted Jun 24, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Hawaii Warrior Defense

Hawaii Warriors

Preview 2013 - Defense

- 2013 Hawaii Preview | 2013 Hawaii Offense
- 2013 Hawaii Defense | 2013 Hawaii Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: While there were problems against the run, and the D gave up way too many points, there was decent production at times led by a pass defense that finished 11th in the nation. However, there was a reason the pass defense stats were so great – the defensive front seven was destroyed by anyone who could run. Defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer likes to get aggressive and wants to pressure the quarterback and it showed with a decent year getting behind the line. The ends should be terrific and all three starters return at linebacker, but can anyone stop the run? The secondary should be a strength with three starters back including safeties John Hardy-Tuliau and Marrell Jackson two solid playmakers to work around.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Marrell Jackson, 56
Sacks: Tavita Woodard, 5.5
Interceptions: John Hardy-Tuliau, 3

Star of the defense: Sophomore S Marrell Jackson
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior NT Moses Samia
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Jerrol Garcia-Williams
Best pro prospect: Senior DE Tavita Woodard
Top three all-star candidates: 1) LB Art Laurel, 2) Jackson, 3) Woodard
Strength of the defense: Experience, Pass Defense
Weakness of the defense: Run Defense, Scoring Defense

Defensive Line

There might have been problems across the board for the Warriors, but the pass rush wasn't one of them with 6-4, 255-pound senior Tavita Woodard back after leading the team with 5.5 sacks with 38 tackles and a pick. The former JUCO transfer from Eastern Arizona turned out to be a breakout star getting four starts on the way to honorable mention All-Mountain West honors. A tremendous athlete, he gets off the ball in a hurry and is great when closing.

Junior Beau Yap is built like a big linebacker, but the 6-2, 260-pounder is a solid defensive end making 37 tackles with three sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. Very strong, he holds up well against the run and has a good burst behind the line. He should do even more with the attention sure to be paid to Woodard on the other side.

6-2, 285-pound junior Sisasau Matagiese rose up and grabbed the starting defensive tackle job finishing with 21 tackles with two tackles for loss. The former transfer from Portland State has good feet and slides well, but he's not much an interior pass rusher. Joining him in the interior is 6-1, 305-pound junior Moses Samia on the nose. A promising starter at the beginning of the year, he came up with one tackle in two games before getting knocked out for the year with a knee injury. With a great base and terrific strength, he has the potential to be the anchor for everything to work around if he can stay healthy. He might not be massive, but he's active and doesn't get easily shoved.

Serving as a key backup on the end is 6-2, 255-pound senior Ho`oikaika Cavaco-Amoy, a promising option who produced when given a chance making four tackles with two tackles for loss in six games of work. He could grow into a pass rushing specialist along with 6-2, 255-pound junior Niko Uti, a transfer from Snow College who'll work on either side as part of the rotation.

Trying to show what he can do in the interior is 6-2, 325-pound sophomore Calen Friel, a massive interior presence with stunning athleticism for his size. However, he can't stay healthy getting hurt and missing his senior year of high school and then missing all of last year after going down with a knee injury in the offseason. If he's right, he's exactly what the line needs in a backup nose tackle.

Watch Out For … Kennedy Tulimasealii, a 6-3, 285-pound defensive tackle prospect who got the full court press from a slew of Pac-12 schools, but will eventually be a key part of the Hawaii interior. Arguably the state's best recruit this season, he was a fantastic get for the Warriors and could see time sooner than later.
Strength: The pass rush. It might not have been dominant, but it was solid with three sacks or more in six games including nine in the final two games. The Warriors overall did a nice job of getting into the backfield.
Weakness: Run defense. When the Warriors were ripped up by anyone who could actually run the ball. Nevada, BYU, New Mexico and Air Force all tore off over 300 rushing yards and gave up 34 touchdowns in the first ten games. No rushing TDs allowed – 3-0. 34 rushing TDs allowed – 0-9.
Outlook: This turned out to be one of the team's biggest plusses, at least in terms of pass rush, but the run defense has to be far, far better and the defensive interior has to hold up better. There's experience, size and talented pass rushers who can be disruptive, but the run D has to build off a strong final few games.
Unit Rating: 5


The linebacking corps has the potential to be a major strength with all three starters back led by senior Art Laurel, a top tackler who followed up a 61-tackle, nine sack 2011 with 51 stops with four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. An extremely fast 6-0, 235-pounder, he's a terror when he gets to fly into the backfield and he's tough when he has to be against the run.

6-3, 255-pound senior Brenden Daley came to Hawaii from Ventura JC and started most of last year finishing with 26 tackles with an interception and 1.5 tackles for loss. He made 110 tackles with ten sacks at the lower level, and he can be used in a variety of ways as either a defensive end or a middle linebacker. He'll work mostly on the inside, while 6-3, 205-pound sophomore Jerrol Garcia-Williams is a safety-sized speedster who'll once again see time on the strongside after coming up with 33 tackles with a sack and a recovered fumble. Even though he was just a true freshman, he played like a more mature veteran and was always around the ball. A tremendous athlete with elite speed, he'll be a disruptive force.

6-3. 245-pound junior T.J. Taimatuia looks the part, and while he was supposed to take over in the middle last season, he ended up serving as a backup and now will push for time on the strongside as well as the middle after making 33 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss. Really, really fast for his size, he has great range and could be seen as a pass rushing specialist. Also in the hunt for playing time is 6-1, 220-pound sophomore Benetton Fonua, a spot starter in the middle who came up with 17 tackles on the year with nine against New Mexico. Extremely smart, he's the perfect quarterback for a defensive front seven and will be the leader of the group next year. 6-2, 220-pound sophomore Lance Williams is a decent-sized option on the outside. An excellent athlete, he made the most of his time in the rotation making 24 tackles.

Watch Out For … Tigi Hill, a 6-2, 215-pound JUCO transfer from Mesa CC who might be a big safety or a smallish linebacker. Either way, he's going to play a big role against the run with big hitting ability and outstanding range. Wanted by a few SEC and Pac-12 schools, the coaching staff will find a job for him somewhere.
Strength: Experience. It's not just the starting three; Fonua, Taimatuia and Williams can step in and start if needed. There should be a great rotation with plenty of options to play around with.
Weakness: Holding up against the run. Spread offenses gave the linebacking corps problems, and so did the power teams and everyone in between. The run defense was a disaster at times, and no there's no excuse.
Outlook: Fantastic two years ago, the linebacking corps had to undergo an overhaul. Now the turnover is complete and the results should show with a very fast group of veterans with the upside to make a big turnaround and start doing more at the point of attack.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Defensive Backs

The secondary came up with a nice season, and now, despite the loss of top corner Mike Edwards, it should be even better. Sophomore Marrell Jackson came up with a huge true freshman season coming out of Florida and into the starting lineup tying for the team lead with 56 tackles with five broken up passes. A key part of a phenomenal Miramar High team, the 6-0, 180-pounder showed right away that he could tackle and bring great range and instincts.

Also back at safety is 5-11, 180-pound senior John Hardy-Tuliau, a former free safety who started ten games last year at strong safety making 42 tackles with a team-leading three picks and three broken up passes. Also great on special teams, he blocked two picks after coming up with four two years ago. He hit the weights a bit to bulk up to his current weight, but he's still not all that big. Even so, he's smart and knows how to get around the ball.

Senior Ne'Quan Phillips is a young, promising corner out of Miami who started five times finishing with 25 tackles with two picks. A nice tackler in the open field, he's a willing hitter for his 5-9, 180-pound size and he gets a nice break on the ball. He'll lock down the job on one side, while 6-0, 175-pound Tony Grimes will handle the work on the other after starting four times and making 24 tackles. The former JUCO transfer from Arizona Western JC isn't necessarily a ball hawker who'll come up with big numbers when the ball is in the air, but he'll get physical and he did a nice job breaking up five passes.

5-11, 200-pound senior Charles Clay will be a top backup at both safety spots and will see time in nickel and dime packages. The former wide receiver and former SMU Mustang made 29 tackles with four broken up passes. He can fly with the speed to stay with any Mountain West receiver, and he packs a little bit of a pop. 5-8, 170-pound junior Dee Maggitt will also be used in nickel situations and should see a little time in the corner rotation after making 12 tackles with three broken up passes. He's not big, but he cuts on a dime and he'll come up with a hit when needed.

Watch Out For … Trayvon Henderson, a 6-1, 195-pound freshman out of Sacramento who could eventually be one of the team's top tacklers after making 113 stops in ten games last year for his high school team. Wanted by other Mountain West teams, he'll find a spot somewhere in the secondary soon.
Strength: Safety. Jackson and Hardy-Tuliau should be among the Mountain West's best tandems. They can both pop and Jackson should grow into even more of a pass defender. They're two good ones to work around.
Weakness: The big play. The secondary didn't get roasted all that often, but his allowed 13 yards per catch and had problems with the deep ball. It would be nice if a No. 1 corner could emerge after losing Mike Edwards.
Outlook: This is a really fast, really athletic group with a nice base of starters. The depth is a bit of a question and more picks have to come on a regular basis, but there's talent and upside to get excited about. If the pass rush can do even more, the production should be terrific.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Special Teams

Junior Tyler Hadden hasn't been consistent, but he has a decent leg and can be tested out from anywhere inside 50 yards. The problem is his short-range ability, whiffing on too many makeable kicks and hitting 13-of-21 kicks. However, one of the misses came from 60 yards and another was a 50-yarder.

The punting game that got big numbers out of Alex Dunnachie – averaging 46.2 yards per kick – needs transfer Ruben Guzman to shine. An excellent prospect out of Riverside, he has the ability to blast away and average well over 40 yards per kick. He'll eventually become terrific.

The return game was outstanding last season with Mike Edwards averaging 30.4 yards per kickoff return with three scores, and now receiver Scott Harding will get more of a look at the job, and he'll also handle most of the work on punt returns after averaging 12.8 yards per try with a score.

Watch Out For … Guzman. The punting situation was a big, big concern, but Guzman is a big enough talent to step in and shine right away.
Strength: Return game. Edwards might be gone, but the Warriors know how to generate production on kickoff returns. Harding will be fantastic on punt returns.
Weakness: Coverage teams. Allowing 21.8 yards per kickoff return wasn't bad, but the punt coverage team had too many whiffs allowing 11.7 yards per try. Hawaii can't lose the field position battle.
Outlook: Out of all the team's problems, special teams were among them. The coverage teams could stand to be better, and Hadden needs to be more consistent, but everything else was solid and should be again. Hadden has a deep leg and the returners should be excellent despite the loss of Edwards. With a little luck, this could be a major plus.
Unit Rating: 7

- 2013 Hawaii Preview | 2013 Hawaii Offense
- 2013 Hawaii Defense | 2013 Hawaii Depth Chart