2008 CFN Hawai'i Preview
Hawaii DE David Veikune
Hawaii DE David Veikune
Posted Apr 23, 2008

CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Hawai'i Warriors

Hawaii Warriors

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Hawaii Preview |
2008 Hawaii Offense
- 2008 Hawaii Defense |
2008 Hawaii Depth Chart
2007 CFN Hawaii Preview | 2006 CFN Hawaii Preview 

While the 2007 Hawaii season wasn't the end of the football program, it sure seems like it was the end of something.

In one of the great stories of the year, Hawaii used its high-octane offense, great home field advantage, and its favorable schedule to come up with the best season in the team's history. It was part of the weekly college football must-see show with Colt Brennan and the boys playing fun game after fun game on the way to the undefeated regular season, and although Georgia might have ended all the fun with a soul-crushing deathblow, it was still a successful year by any measure.

Head coach: Greg McMackin
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 34, Def. 27, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 26
Ten Best UH Players
1. LB Solomon Elimimian, Sr.
2. LB Adam Leonard, Sr.
3. CB Ryan Mouton, Sr.
4. DE David Veikune, Sr.
5. C John Estes, Jr.
6. QB Inoke Funake, Jr.
7. QB Tyler Graunke, Sr.
8. WR/KR Malcolm Lane, Jr.
9. CB Jameel Dowling, Sr.
10. WR/PR Michael Washington, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 5-8
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 at Florida
Sept. 6 Weber State
Sept. 13 at Oregon State
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE
Sept. 27 San Jose State
Oct. 4 at Fresno State
Oct. 11 Louisiana Tech
Oct. 17 at Boise State
Oct. 25 Nevada
Nov. 1 at Utah State
Nov. 8 at New Mexico State
Nov. 22 Idaho
Nov. 29 Washington State
Dec. 6 Cincinnati

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 12-0
2007 Record: 12

Sept. 1 No Colorado W 63-6
Sept. 8 at La Tech W 45-44 OT
Sept. 15 at UNLV W 49-14
Sept. 22 Char South. W 66-10
Sept. 29 at Idaho W 48-20
Oct. 6 Utah State W 52-37
Oct. 12 at SJSU W 42-35 OT
Oct. 27 N Mexico St W 50-13
Nov. 10 Fresno State W 37-30
Nov. 16 at Nevada W 28-26
Nov. 23 Boise State W 39-27
Dec. 1 Washington W 35-28
Sugar Bowl
Jan. 1 Georgia L 41-10

Now all the key parts are gone. Colt Brennan is off to the NFL. The top wideouts either graduated or bailed out early with the ship starting to take on water, and most painful of all, head coach June Jones, the one who made the program prominent, made a lateral move to take over SMU because of money, and the potential of what Hawaii football can become.

While not on a shoestring budget, Hawaii isn't exactly awash in pocket change it can throw at the football program. The facilities are lousy, there's a limited ability to recruit on the mainland, and the team mainly has worked as well as it has by mixing in a cast of misfits with as many top local talents as it can keep. Now the goal isn't just to maintain the high standard but to not crash and burn.

New head man Greg McMackin isn't going to try to reinvent the wheel, Hawaii is still going to throw the ball, but with so many changes and such a massive turnover in personnel and key players, the situation is as good as it's going to get to start fresh with a few new ideas. Like defense.

Lost in all the pyrotechnics and passing numbers was a defense that was the second best in the conference and the best at getting into the backfield. The offense will put up numbers, but it'll be impossible to be as clutch and as consistent as Brennan and the boys were. Of course, all the negativity will be attempted to be spun in the team's favor.

Get ready for the no-one-believes-in-us rant, because no one will believe in Hawaii as a WAC title contender. Likely to be picked in the middle of the pack by everyone, the motivation will be there to prove the world wrong and to show that it wasn't all Jones, Brennan, Davone Bess, and the rest of last year's cast of characters. It's not going to be easy.

What to watch for on offense: A bit less from the shotgun. The offense isn't going to change up from the formula that's worked so well over the last several years, but depending on who the starting quarterback will be, there might be less shotgun, a few more running plays, and moments now and then when the attack looks just like everyone else. The leading quarterback option going into fall, Inoke Funake, was far better under center, so if he's the man, there could be even less shotgun.

What to watch for on defense: The new corners. It's not like former corners Garard Lewis and Myron Newberry were bad, on the contrary. They were two tough defenders on the outside who combined for 104 tackles, six interceptions and 14 broken up passes with Newberry earning first-team All-WAC honors. However, those two weren't as talented as seniors Ryan Mouton and Jameel Dowling, who each have NFL potential. Dowling, a former Oregon Duck, has 6-3, 205-pound size and excellent speed, while Mouton has warp wheels but hasn't been able to show them off as much as he'd like. Banged up last year, Mouton could be a superstar, lock-down defender.

The team will be far better if … the kick coverage teams show up. This was a problem two years ago and it became a glaring weakness last year. While Hawaii averaged an impressive 12.4 yards per punt return, it gave up 17.9 yards per try. The kickoff coverage wasn't much better allowing 23.9 yards per attempt with two touchdowns.

The Schedule:
Remember, this isn't the Hawaii of last year. Also remember that Hawaii has one of the best home field advantages in college football and could lose to anyone away from Honolulu. Remember how many close calls there were on the mainland last year against mediocre teams? Forget about the season opener at Florida and the trip to Oregon State will likely be too much to handle. The piper must be paid for last season's schedule with road dates at Fresno State and Boise State which could likely end the WAC title hopes by mid-October, and playing at Utah State and New Mexico State won't be a plus making it three road games in a four-game stretch with the home game a tough one against Nevada. Closing with Washington State and Cincinnati at home will be the equivalent of bowl games.

Best Offensive Player: Junior C John Estes. For a team that'll be among the nation's leaders in passing, the star of the show is a (zzzzzz) lineman?! Others will put up the big numbers to end up on the all-star teams, but it's Estes and the line that needs to give everyone time to work, The 6-2, 290-pound junior is a great technician and a perfect quarterback for the line.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LBs Solomon Elimimian and Adam Leonard. Leonard made 105 tackles and tied for the team lead with four interceptions, taking two for scores, and he wasn't quite healthy with a knee and thumb giving him problems. Meanwhile, Elimimian was seemingly in on every tackle making 141 of them. When the two careers are over, if healthy, these two will combine for over 750 tackles and 35.5 tackles for loss.

Key player to a successful season: The starting quarterback. Inoke Funake has the inside track on the job after a good spring, and with his combination of mobility and accuracy he wouldn't be a bad option. Tyler Graunke had academic issues, but he's the most experienced option and has proved he can win games. Ready to throw their hats into the ring are JUCO transfers Greg Alexander and Brent Rausch, two talented prospects who came to Hawaii to play right away. Alexander is the better of the two.

The season will be a success if ... Hawaii wins eight games and goes back to a bowl game. There isn't enough in the bag to win the WAC, and even last year's team would've wilted against the 2008 schedule, but that doesn't mean this can't be a successful season. The key is to make sure things don't completely go into the tank. A 4-9 season would show that Jones, Brennan and company really did mean everything.

Key game: Sept. 27 vs. San Jose State. The WAC opener isn't the sure-thing win it might appear to be. The Spartans are far better this year and will be far more polished early on, even though they have quarterback issues of their own. With road trips to Fresno State and Boise State coming up quickly, Hawaii has to come up with a win against Dick Tomey's club to avoid a disastrous start to the conference season.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - Touchdown passes: Hawaii 51 – Opponents 16
 - Time of possession: Opponents 32:06 – Hawaii 27:54
 - Third down conversions: Hawaii 74 of 157 (47%) – Opponents 59 of 198 (30%)