Preview 2009 - Offense
2009 CFN Hawaii
2009 Hawaii Offense
2009 Hawaii Defense |
2009 Hawaii Depth
2007 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.
Star of the offense:
Senior C John Estes
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
Player who has to step up and become a star:
Senior OT Laupepa
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)
Strength of the offense: Quarterback, John Estes
Weakness of the offense:
Pass protection, running production
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:
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
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
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.
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
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
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:
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
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
On the way is
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.