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2009 Hawaii Preview - Offense
Hawaii QB Greg Alexander
Hawaii QB Greg Alexander
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 14, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Hawaii Offense

Hawaii Warriors

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Hawaii Preview | 2009 Hawaii Offense
- 2009 Hawaii Defense |
2009 Hawaii Depth Chart
-
2008 Hawaii Preview | 2007 Hawaii Preview | 2006 Hawaii Preview 

What you need to know: It’s Hawaii, so you know exactly what’s coming: Lots of passing, lots of big scoring runs, and no running game whatsoever. Greg Alexander is a strong returning quarterback who should be able to take a nice leap in overall production if he can hold off Brent Rausch for the job. The receiving corps should be better with Greg Salas and Malcolm Lane two good speedsters who should be in the hunt for all-star honors. The biggest issue is on the line where three starters are gone off a group that was the worst in the nation in pass protection. Obviously, that’s an issue for an offense that lives and dies by the pass. On the plus side, John Estes is back at center and should be among the best in America.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Greg Alexander
154-254, 1895 yds, 14 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Kealoha Pilares
56 carries, 300 yds, 5 TD
Receiving: Greg Salas
57 catches, 831 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense:
Senior C John Estes
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior OT Laupepa Letuli
Unsung star on the rise: Junior WR Greg Salas
Best pro prospect: Estes
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Estes, 2) QB Greg Alexander, 3) Salas
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, John Estes
Weakness of the offense:
Pass protection, running production

Quarterbacks

Senior Greg Alexander came in last year as a top JUCO transfer, struggled in the season opener against Florida and didn’t get back into the mix until mid-October, and then he became the steady force the team and the offense needed. At 6-3 and 230 pounds he’s a big bomber with a nice touch and surprising mobility rushing for 139 yards and three touchdowns. He threw for 1,895 yards and 14 touchdowns with five interceptions, and while he wasn’t Colt Brennan, and won’t be this year, he has the skills to make a nice leap in overall production if he can hang on to the job.

Projected Top Reserve:
Junior Brent Rausch saw a little bit of mop-up work in three games, and now he’ll get every shot to win the starting job. He’ll have to be special to unseat Greg Alexander, and he doesn’t have the same arm, but the former star JUCO transfer has good running skills and an accurate passing arm. If he’s the No. 2 option this year, the 6-4, 180-pounder will be groomed for the starting job next year.

Shane Austin has to come up with a big season as the No. 3 quarterback or he’ll have a hard time seeing time in the near future. The 5-11, 200-pounder is smart, has a live arm, and should be a decent scout teamer, but he’ll have to shine to hold off all the true freshmen for down the road.

Watch Out For ... the true freshmen. David Graves and Corey Nelson aren’t going to have any real shot at the starting job this year, but the spotlight will be on them to see how they progress in practices. The program is confident in Alexander and Rausch and will wait on the newcomers, but Graves might be too good to not consider if the veterans have problems.
Strength: Improvement. Alexander was strong over the second half of last year and took on the fiery leader role the team needed. There’s a solid chance he could take a giant leap up now that he knows what he’s doing.
Weakness: The receiving corps. It’s fine, but nothing special. Part of the reason Colt Brennan was such a superstar was because he had superior targets to work with. This year’s Warrior receivers are fine, but they aren’t at the same level of a few years ago.
Outlook: There was a big drop-off from the epic Colt Brennan years, but the quarterback situation has settled down a bit. Brent Rausch will provide a slight push for the starting job, but Greg Alexander will have to fall flat on his face to lose the job. Alexander is a big, strong bomber with the potential to come up with a 3,500-yard season if he’s the starter for the entire year. There are some nice true freshman prospects to develop for the future. That the coaching staff didn’t go after any JUCO transfers shows how comfortable the current situation is.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starter: Senior Leon Wright-Jackson was supposed to be the main man going into last season, but he only ran for 102 yards with a touchdown and caught ten passes for 70 yards in his ten games of work. The 6-1, 215-pound former Nebraska Cornhusker has good size and enough quickness to be a nice fit for the offense, but the team needs a regular back who can produce when given the ball 15 times per game. That’s still a question mark. 

Projected Top Reserve: Inoke Funaki has spent his career trying to find a home. He was the starting quarterback over the first half of the season and threw seven touchdown with 12 interceptions, but his real worth was as a runner finishing third on the team with 215 yards and a score. Now the 5-11, 190-pound senior will get more time as the No. 2 running back with good speed and experience. He could move back under center if desperately needed. He'll be used in Wildcat formations, or what Hawaii will call the "Noke" to get him under center from time to time.

6-2, 220-pound JUCO transfer Alex Green led Butte CC in California to the JUCO national title with 1,037 yards and 14 touchdowns before tearing off 119 yards in the national title game. He brings a good combination of power and quickness, but he’ll have to show he can be a better receiver to see immediate time.

On the way is Chizzy Dimude, a 5-9, 190-pound JUCO transfer who led Laney College in California with 546 yards and five touchdowns. He’s not a workhorse by any means, but he’s a lightning-quick prospect who could tear off yards in chunks.

Watch Out For ... Several changes in the lineup. Leon Wright-Jackson isn’t the type of back who can hold down the job for the entire season and be a star. The coaching staff will be looking for options, meaning Green and Dimude could see time early on.
Strength: Variety. 13 different players, including quarterbacks and receivers, finished with positive yards last year. While there might not be a back who’ll carry the ball 250 times, there are several players who’ll see time and several different players to work with.
Weakness: Production. It’s Hawaii. It’ll finish among the bottom ten teams in the nation in rushing. While there’s always decent touchdown numbers, the team ran for 18 last year, the running game will come up with under 1,800 yards before counting in all the lost yards from sacks.
Outlook: As always, Hawaii will rotate a collection of backs with the offense going with the hot hand on a game-by-game basis. The key is the ability to pass protect and catch the ball. The back who can do both of those the best will get the most playing time, but the coaching staff has to find the right back. Wright-Jackson will be the first choice, but Funaki will be an interesting option.
Rating: 4

Receivers

Projected Starters : Not much was expected out of Greg Salas, a reserve who came up with a few catches in 2007. But he turned into one of the team’s steadiest players with a team-leading 831 receiving yards on 57 catches with three touchdowns. The 6-2, 200-pound junior will start on the X and will be the team’s most dangerous deep threat with excellent speed and a year of proven experience.

Taking over at the H for last year’s leading receiver, Michael Washington, will be Jon Medeiros, a quick 5-9, 195-pound senior who caught nine passes for 98 yards and a score in a limited role. One of the team’s fastest players, he could grow into one of the team’s breakout players if he can hold on to the job.

Senior Malcolm Lane has the athleticism and the talent to be a number one receiver, and he showed signs of being a home-run hitter last year averaging 17.5 yards per catch with 613 yards and six scores on 35 catches. The 6-1, 180-pounder is physical for his size to go along with his deep wheels. He’s also an elite kickoff returner averaging 26.5 yards per try. He’ll have to fight for the starting job at the Z, but with the ability to take a pass 82 yards for a score like he did against Idaho, or 81 yards against UNLV two years ago, he’s too dangerous to not get the ball more.  

In a jack-of-all-trades slotback role will be once again be junior Kealoha Pilares, the team's leading rusher of 2007 with 388 yards and three touchdowns. He was second on the team with 300 yards and five rushing scores last year, and he caught 29 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Now he’ll stick as a receiver and do more in the starting job at the Y.  

Projected Top Reserves: Pushing for time at the Z behind Malcolm Lane is Royce Pollard, a 6-0, 175-pound sophomore who caught four passes for 71 yards. A phenomenal athlete, he could play bigger than his size with great leaping ability to make him a taller target, while he has next-level speed to stretch the field.

Ready to show what he can do is Dustin Blount, a star JUCO transfer from last season who made 74 catches for 1,103 yards on his way to being named the Western State Conference co-player of the year in 2007. Phenomenally quick, he should be uncoverable on the inside behind Kealoha Pilares at the Y.

6-1, 190-pound JUCO transfer Rodney Bradley could’ve gone to Arizona but chose to come to Hawaii and will be a part of the rotation at the outside X position. He made the most of his opportunities last year on a running team at Navarro CC averaging 19.3 yards per catch.

Watch Out For ... more Malcolm Lane. He hasn’t shown he can be a No. 1 receiver, or even a No. 2, but he has the potential to take any pass the distance and needs the ball more on the inside.
Strength: Experience. This was a green group being thrown into the fire last year, and it came through fine. Now, with some key starters back in Salas and Lane and there are good backups ready to see the field. The growing pains of last year should pay off.
Weakness: A superstar. There’s potential with Salas and Lane each able to come up with big plays, but there isn’t any one receiver who’ll be absolutely unstoppable and none of the starters are as good as the top receivers of a few years ago.
Outlook: Davone Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullen, Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne weren’t going to be quickly replaced, but the new starters did a good job in a rebuilding year. While Michael Washington will be missed, Salas and Lane are good veterans to start with. Pollard and Medeiros are dangerous new options who should open things up a bit more. There might not be any superstars, but the group should be more effective with a better rapport with QB Greg Alexander.
Rating: 6.5


Offensive Linemen


Projected Starters: The line has to do some major rebuilding, but it has a star to work around in John Estes, one of the nation’s best centers and a good pro prospect. The two-time first team All-WAC performer has started in all 41 games of his career starting out at right guard before finding a home in the middle. While he’s not huge at 6-2 and 290 pounds, he’s a tremendous athlete who will be on several All-America lists.

Along with Estes, the other returning starter is Aaron Kia at left tackle. The 6-5, 290-pound senior is a good athlete who has seen plenty of time starting the final 11 games of last season and was fine, but struggled in pass protection. The former star high school swimmer needs to be a rock on the outside.

Taking over for Keoni Steinhoff at right tackle will be Laupepa Letuli, a 6-4, 320-pound senior who saw a little bit of time last year, getting the start at left tackle against Florida, and he has the potential to be a key starter. He’s a pounder when he gets to run block, and now he has to add more to the pass protection.

Junior Brysen Ginlack got five starts at left guard and now will get the first look on the right side. He’s a tough 6-2 and 310 pounds, but he’s not the quickest lineman on the team. He’ll have to battle to keep the starting job and will move around where needed.

6-3, 315-pound senior Ray Histatake is one of the team’s biggest linemen even after slimming down since he first arrived. The former JUCO transfer has been a reserve and can play either guard spot. While he’ll start working on the left side, he’ll have to work hard to keep the starting position.

Projected Top Reserves: Being given every shot to take over the left guard job is Matagisila Lefiti. The 5-11, 295-pound sophomore isn’t tall, but he’s defensive tackle-tough and can move a little bit. He gets great leverage for the running game.

Senior Raphael Ieru has been a reserve over the last few years and has the potential to take over the right guard job if he can be more consistent. At 6-2 and 315 pounds, he’s a bigger option than Brsen Ginlack and will be given every chance to be one of the team’s key veterans up front.

Watch Out For ... plenty of movement at guard. Guard will be one of the team’s best position battles with four big players pushing for time. There might not be a set lineup until halfway through the season.
Strength: Estes. There might be major issues all across the front, but Estes isn’t one of them. He’s one of the best players in the WAC and he’s a strong leader for the line.
Weakness: Pass protection. This was a problem two years ago allowing 35 sacks, even though the offense threw it 663 times. Last year the pass protection was a complete and utter disaster finishing last in the nation allowing 4.07 sacks per game and 57 overall. Part of the problem was the quarterback play, but the line has to be far, far better.
Outlook: It was a disaster last year and now it could be an utter nightmare. John Estes is a great center who needs to play even better to overcome issue in pass protection all across the front. It’s a big line but it doesn’t move all that well. With three new starters and not enough veteran depth, there’s a lot to be worried about.
Rating: 5

   

Related Stories
2009 CFN Hawaii Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 14, 2009
2009 Hawaii Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 14, 2009
2009 Hawaii Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 14, 2009








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