What you need to know ... Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
Hawaii averaged 476 yards and 31 points per game with a new
quarterback and two freshmen receivers leading the way. Now
quarterback Colt Brennan is on the verge of superstardom while
top targets Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen will each be among
the nation's most productive receivers. The runners are huge
with 248-pound Nate Ilaoa getting a fifth year of eligibility to
be the main back for the few times the attack wants to power the
ball. The line welcomes back three starters led by all-stars
Samson Satele and Tala Esera.
Passing: Colt Brennan
350-515, 4,301 yds, 35 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Nate Ilaoa
85 carries, 643 yds, 6 TD
Receiving: Davone Bess
89 catches, 1,124 yds, 14 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore WR Davone Bess
Player that has to step up and become a star: Freshman OG
Unsung star on the rise: Estes
Best pro prospect: Bess
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bess, 2) QB Colt
Brennan, 3) C Samson Satele
Strength of the offense: All things passing game
Weakness of the offense:
All things running game
The knock on Hawaii quarterbacks
was that they were all products of the system; anyone can
produce in this passing offense. While that's true, the Warriors
have a quarterback with the skills to play just about anywhere.
Colt Brennan is a great player in a great system, and the
results should be eye-popping. Tyler Graunke is a strong
number two who'll see time in blowouts, while Inoke Funaki will
be more of a runner if he ever sees time.
The key to the unit: Get Graunke meaningful work.
Brennan takes some big shots when he scrambles around to buy
time, so the backups need to be ready to step in at a moment's
Quarterback Rating: 8.5
- Colt Brennan, Jr. - 350-515, 68%, 4,301 yds, 35 TD, 13
INT. 99 carries, 154 yds, 1.6 ypc, 2 TD
Think Timmy Chang with a bigger arm and some mobility. After a
long, tough road being exiled from Colorado, Brennan ended up at Hawaii from Saddleback
Community College. He turned
out to be one of the nation's best all-around quarterbacks
leading the country in total offense while becoming the WAC's
most prolific passer. He's 6-3 and 190 pounds with the
mobility to buy himself time to throw and occasionally take off.
Of course, at Hawaii, it's all about throwing the ball, and
Brennan threw for over 300 yards in ten games including the
final seven with four 400-yard days and a 515-yard, seven
touchdown explosion against New Mexico State. While he threw 13
interceptions, he spread them out with no more than two in any
one game. Considering he threw 515 times, that's not bad.
- Tyler Graunke, Soph. - 28-56, 306 yds, 50%, 2 TD, 1
INT, 21 carries, 68 yds, 3.2 ypc
The starter coming out of 2005 spring ball as a true freshman,
Graunke quickly turned into the backup after the emergence of
Colt Brennan. He isn't all that big, but he's a pure passer with
good accuracy and enough talent to get work if Brennan struggles
or gets hurt.
- Inoke Funaki, Fr.
Back from a church mission, Funaki brings tremendous rushing
skills along with a live arm. He threw for 29 touchdown and ran
for eight scores leading Kuhuku High School in Oahu to two
straight state championships. He's a mature freshman who'll be
in the battle for the number two job.
The Hawaii offense is all about throwing the ball,
but the run 'n' shoot can also get the ball moving on the ground
if everything is working perfectly. That's not necessarily the
case here, but for what the Warriors do, these backs are
effective. The Warrior backs are really, really big to power the
ball through the holes. Nate llaoa is 248 pounds, Reagan Mauia
is 351 pounds, and David Farmer is 240. All of them can catch.
The key to the unit: Get big runs when there's room
to move. There has to be enough of a threat to take a little
heat off the passing game.
Running Back Rating: 5
- Nate Ilaoa, Sr. - 85 carries, 643 yds, 7.6 ypc, 6 TD,
36 catches, 274 yds, 7.6 ypc, 1 TD
The former slot receiver is an effective runner whenever he gets
a little room to move, and as you might expect, he's a fantastic
receiver. His issue has been his weight going up and down like a
yo-yo. He's now up to a bit-too-heavy 248 pounds, but that
should make him an even more effective runner. He had his
biggest game against San Diego State tearing off 151 yards on 15
carries and caught seven passes for 60 yards and a score. He'll
have a few games where he puts up big numbers tearing off a few
- Reagan Mauia, Sr. - 12 carries, 59 yds, 4.6 ypc, 1
Yes, he's really 6-0 and 351 pounds. He saw spot action last
year purely as a blocker, and he ran for 56 yards and a score in
the season finale against San Diego State. He's not going to hit
any home runs, but he'll be a good option in short yardage
- David Farmer, Soph. - 12 carries, 49 yds, 4.1 ypc, 1 TD, 11
catches, 71 yds, 6.5 ypc, 1 TD
The 240-pound sophomore is yet another big Warrior back to add
to the rotation. He saw a little bit of work early on with two
three-carry games to start the season, and now he'll get a bit
more work in blowouts. With decent hands, he caught seven passes
for 52 yards against New Mexico State.
This isn't just an ultra-productive, ultra-experienced
group, it's full of great talent led by super sophomores Davone
Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen. They weren't heavily recruited by
any of the big names, but they proved last year that they
should've been. Chad Mock and Ross Dickerson are explosive
receivers who'll see their share of big games with all the
attention paid to Bess and Grice-Mullen. There's more than
enough depth to go around helped by the return of Jason Rivers
back after missing last year.
The key to the unit: Keep everyone healthy. There
might be several options and plenty of go-to guys, but Bess and
Grice-Mullen make a good group elite.
Receiver Rating: 10
- Ross Dickerson, Sr. - 51 catches, 725 yds, 14.2 ypc, 4
Expected to be the main man going into last year considering he
was one of the few returning receivers with any experience,
Dickerson had a nice year finishing third on the team in
receiving starting at the Z position. He was steady all season
long, and then he exploded over a two game span against Nevada
and Utah State catching 11 passes for 222 yards and a score.
He'll get plenty of chances to exploit the openings with all the
attention paid to everyone else.
- Ryan Grice-Mullen, Soph. - 85 catches, 1,228 yds, 14.4
ypc, 12 TD, 2 carries, 18 yds, 1 TD
Grice-Mullen stepped in as a true freshman and led the team in
receiving yards while turning into a touchdown machine. Four
scores against New Mexico State, three against San Diego State,
and five 100-yard games showed how explosive he can be. While
he's not huge at 5-10 and 174 pounds, he's physical and
- Davone Bess, Soph. - 89 catches, 1,124 yds, 12.6 ypc,
UH head coach June Jones has gone as far as to call Bess the
best receiver he has ever coached. Remember, Jones coached in the
NFL. Bess spent his senior year in high school as a quarterback,
sat out the 2004 season, and then ripped it up as a
true freshman with seven 100-yard games highlighted by a two
game stretch against Fresno State and Nevada when he caught 26
passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. He's as tough as they
come with phenomenal hands and great concentration around the
- Chad Mock, Sr. - 42 catches, 502 yds, 12 ypc, 1 TD
The speedy senior stepped in after coming over from the JUCO
ranks and finished fourth on the team in receiving. He's the
outside X receiver and is expected to stretch the field, but he
can also make the short-to-midrange play. He came back after
getting dinged up over the first few games of the year and came
through with 21 catches for 251 yards and a score over a two
game stretch early on to prove that he needs to be
- Jason Rivers, Jr.
Back after missing the last two years,
Rivers was one of the team's breakout
stars in 2003 catching 48 passes for 594 yards and five
touchdowns. The 6-2 sophomore was the Hawaii state high school
sprint champion and brought that speed to the X position before
getting hurt. Now he'll be a top backup behind Chad Mock.
- Ian Sample, Sr. - 12 catches, 1272 yds, 14.3 ypc, 1 TD
Sample returned from a shoulder injury that shortened his 2004
season to catch 12 passes over the first three games before
betting knocked out again. Now he'll return to be an experienced
reserve behind Ross Dickerson at the Z.
- Aaron Bain, Sr. - 5 catches, 88 yds, 17.6 ypc, 2 TD
Bain will have a hard time seeing the field playing at the Y
behind Ryan Grice-Mullen outside of garbage time. He got a
little work late last year catching two touchdowns in the final
- Michael Washington, Soph. - 13 catches, 86 yds, 6.6 ypc
While he didn't make the impact the other freshmen did, the
small, speedy sophomore started off the year with 12 catches
before Davone Bess came on and turned into a star. He's
lightning fast with some of the best wheels on the team.
Three starters return with two All-WAC performers to
build around in center Samson Satele and tackle Tala Esera. Satele can
play anywhere on the line and be in the hunt for All-America honors, and
he might need to move around to fill in the gaps unless everyone comes
through. It's a big line that will give up its share of sacks, but it'll
also open up some holes for the ground game.
The key to the unit: There has to be a steady
rotation at the guard spots unless freshman John Estes can shine right
Offensive Line Rating: 6
- OT Dane Uperesa, Sr.
Upersa wasn't always steady in his first year as a starter, but he's
huge and has been around four four years with the experience to be
better at right tackle. At 6-5 and 331 pounds, he's tough to get around.
- OG John Estes, Fr.
Expected to step in and start right away as a true freshman, Estes isn't
all that huge at 6-1 and 275 pounds, but he's athletic and strong for
his size. He played center in high school and will start out at right
guard this year.
- C Samson Satele, Sr.
The versatile 6-3 and 311 pound senior is one of the WAC's best linemen
no matter where he plays. After adding weight, he should be even more
physical starting at either center or guard. He can be a dominant run
blocker and is a next-level caliber pass protector.
- OG Hercules Satele, Jr.
A decent reserve so far, Satele has to step in and become an instant
rock on the left side as the new starter. At 302 pounds he's big and has
too power for the running game, but he'll have to work on his
consistency in the passing game.
- OT Tala Esera, Sr.
The former defensive tackle has been an excellent all-around blocker for
the last few seasons. He has some all-star honors to his credit and will
be the one who keeps Colt Brennan clean. He'll get beaten once in a
while, but he moves well and should be an All-WAC performer.
- OT Keith Ah-Soon, Soph.
A big 309-pound sophomore, he's not the most agile pass blocker, but
he's physical enough to hold his own at left tackle behind Tala Esera.
He can play guard if needed.
- OG Larry Sauafea, Jr.
He was a backup on the defensive line before moving to the offense. He's
mostly strong for the ground game and provides some experience playing
behind freshman John Estes at right guard.