2010 Hawaii Preview - Defense
Hawaii DT Vaughn Meatoga
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Hawaii Warrior Defense
Preview 2010 - Defense
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What You Need To Know: Defensive coordinator Dave Arana has some interesting pieces to play around with to try to improve a defense that was a disaster for most of last year. The Warriors might have finished third in the WAC in total defense, but the were 93rd in the nation giving up 405 yards per game while doing nothing to get into the backfield or come up with a clutch play. The secondary is the strength by far with five players with good starting experience and, potentially, the WAC's best safety tandem in Mana Silva and Spencer Smith. The linebacking corps loses all the starters, but it could be even better with great young athletes to get excited about led by Paipai Falemalu. The defensive front could be an issue, even with two returning starters, and a pass rusher has to emerge immediately.
Star of the defense: Senior FS Mana Silva
Tackles: Spencer Smith, 77
Sacks: Paipai Falemau, 2
Interceptions: Mana Silva, 6
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DE Elliott Purcell
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Paipai Falemalu
Best pro prospect: Silva
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Silva, 2) SS Spencer Smith, 3) CB Lametrius Davis
Strength of the defense: Secondary, Linebacker Athleticism
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Veteran Front Seven Depth
Projected Starters: The defensive line has to start generating a pass rush and that has to start with Elliott Purcell , a 6-3, 255-pound senior who went from being a little-used backup to a regular starter making 30 stops. However, he was a mega-disappointment failing to generate a sack and coming up with a mere one tackle for loss. He's a very good athlete with the potential to do more, and he has to be more aggressive and far more productive.
Taking over on the left side, with Purcell moving to the other side, will be junior Liko Satele , a nice backup who made 20 tackles with a sack and three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble. At 6-2 and 260 pounds he has good size and great smarts, earning All-WAC academic honors, but he has to become a regular in the backfield. A transfer from Lambuth in Tennessee, he's ready to be a factor.
Returning to a starting spot on the inside is Vaughn Meatoga, a 6-2, 290-pound junior who made 15 stops with a sack with 2.5 tackles for loss. A better interior pass rushing prospect than he showed last year, he's very quick and very smart with the toughness to try to be the anchor against the run. Now he has to be more consistent.
After serving last year as a key backup, sophomore Haku Correa will be one of the big presences on the inside. The 6-1, 290-pound sophomore only made four tackles in his limited time, but he came up with two tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Part of the academic All-WAC team, he's a smart player to go along with the size. He has to stop the run on a regular basis and be a regular in the backfield over the next few years.
Projected Top Reserves: At 6-2 and 300 pounds, sophomore Geordon Hanohano is a big young option for the interior with good potential to stop the run. One of the team's top recruits in 2008, he has the talent and the ability become a major factor after making eight stops with a broken up pass. He'll start out working on the left side behind Vaughn Meatoga.
Ready to make a big impact is Kaniela Tuipulotu, a 6-2, 300-pound junior who transferred over from Arizona and now is expected to become a major factor against the run. The Maui native started seven games for the Wildcats on the nose, but now he's closer to home and he should be a starter sooner than later with good strength and the anchor ability to be a rock in the interior of the line.
Originally an offensive lineman, former JUCO transfer Mike Maracle will move over to the defensive side, where he played a little bit in high school. The 6-4, 245-pound senior is strong for his size and he moves well, and now he has to come up with a few big plays as a pass rusher.
Watch Out For … the backup tackles. While Meatoga and Correa are the likely starters, the 300-pound Hanohano and Tuipulotu could be the more important players. They'll be a major factor in the rotation.
Strength: Size. The interior is full of 300 pounders, backup end Kamalu Umu is 295 pounds, and the other regular ends are good-sized. The bulk is there to be far better against the run.
Weakness: Pass rush. This was supposed to be the team's biggest strength after growing into something special in the Greg McMackin era, but the pass rush fell silent going from 36 sacks in 2008 to a paltry 19 last year. The line didn't get into the backfield nearly enough.
Outlook: A major disappointment last year after a phenomenal 2008, it'll be a shock if there's a big bounceback. The Warriors need to find someone who can rush the passer after most of the push into the backfield came from the linebackers, and the run defense has to be far stronger after the Warriors finished 107th in the nation.
Unit Rating: 4.5
Projected Starters: Gone is leading tackler, Blaze Soares, and his 107 stops, and now the leading stopper at the Stub, or the strongside, could be sophomore Paipai Falemalu , and extremely promising 6-3, 230-pounder who saw time in almost every game as a backup defensive end. He made 20 tackles with two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss, and now he should be a pass rushing terror on the outside a bit further back from the line. Very fast and very promising, he was arguably the second best prospect to come out of Hawaii a few years ago (behind Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o) and he should be a stat-sheet filler.
The hope will be for redshirt freshman George Daily-Lyles to be one of the team's leading tacklers and the tone-setter in the middle for the next four years. With a great frame, the 5-11, 230-pounder is built for the position with great tackling ability and the strength to handle the physical play on the inside. He has just enough athleticism to get into the backfield, but his job will be to hold firm against the run.
5-11, 235-pound junior Parker Paredes started out his career at Southern Oregon before transferring home. The leading tackler for the Raiders, now he'll get two years to establish himself at the outside Buck position where he'll be a tough tackler who's solid against the run.
Projected Top Reserves: Junior Mana Lolotai was a spot starter in the middle and he'll get his chances to shine this year at any open spot. The 6-0, 230-pounder made 15 tackles, but he didn't get into the backfield and he wasn't disruptive enough. Versatile, he has the size and strength to work on the strongside and the quickness to handle himself in pass coverage on the weakside.
A special teamer so far, 6-1, 200-pound senior Po'okela Ahmad will get some time on the Buck side after making five tackles with a tackle for loss. Very athletic and very quick, he needs to do something on defense to provide a solid veteran backup.
Part linebacker and part defensive back, 6-1, 205-pound junior Aaron Brown is versatile and very smart. An interesting all-around talent, who was a star high school wrestler and rugby player, he made 10 tackles with a sack in three games before getting hurt. On the plus side, he got a year of medical hardship and has two years left.
Watch Out For … Falemalu. A great talent with All-WAC upside, the 230-pound sophomore has a great career ahead of him with the potential to be the team's most disruptive force. He'll be used as a pass rusher as well as a run stopper on the outside.
Strength: Potential. The Warriors are young, but they're loaded with nice talents like Falemalu and Daily-Lyles. Even the reserves have good upside and should form a nice rotation.
Weakness: Proven experience. All three starters are gone from last year including the top two tacklers. This group not only has to replace the lost production, but has to be better after the defense struggles so much last year.
Outlook: The linebacking corps might be young and relatively inexperienced, but it's going to be good with a little bit of time. The athleticism, size, and potential are all in place for this to go from a possible weakness to a big-time strength in a hurry if Falemalu plays up to his potential.
Unit Rating: 5
Projected Starters: Senior Spencer Smith was a nice special teamer who got a little time here and there in the secondary, and then he got the starting strong safety job and blossomed. The 5-11, 205-pound senior finished third on the team with 77 tackles with a sack and an interception. Decent in pass coverage, he led the team with seven broken up passes while also cementing his reputation for being a tough hitter. While he'll start out the year as a strong safety, he'll move around where needed.
Even though he missed four games hurt, senior Mana Silva still finished fourth on the team with 74 tackles with a team-leading six picks and four broken up passes. A great tackler, he doesn't miss an open field stop and has great range for the pass defense. While he's built like a strong safety at 6-1 and 220 pounds, he's a free safety who started off his career at Oregon State and has brought his Pac 10 athleticism home to shine in the secondary. Now he has the potential to be an All-WAC star.
Back as the team's top corner is senior Jeramy Bryant , a 5-10, 180-pound veteran who came over as a top JUCO transfer and was decent with 45 tackles and five broken up passes, but he didn't pick off a pass. He was a ball hawker at Los Angeles Harbor College with the type of speed to make him one of the WAC's fastest players, and now he has to do more with his skills.
Senior Lametrius Davis is a former JUCO transfer with 4.4 speed and Pac 10 talent, and he came up with a nice first season picking off three passes and breaking up a team-leading eight passes to go along with 41 tackles. At 6-0 and 185 pounds, he's a good-sized defender who was a key part of a JUCO national title team at Butte CC in California, and now he has the potential to be special with his experience to go along with his tools.
Projected Top Reserves: Only 5-8 and 175 pounds, junior Richard Torres is a good tackler for his size, and is arguably the toughest pound-for-pound player on the team, and was decent when he got his chances starting four times at free safety. He ended up starting seven times making 44 tackles with an interception, and now he'll be a key nickel and dime defender while also seeing time at free safety.
Sophomore Kawika Ornellas is lightning fast and has the potential to shine at either corner spot or as a dime defender. While he's only 5-9 and 170 pounds, he makes up for it with Hawaii high school state championship level sprinter's speed. He made 23 tackles in his first year, but he didn't break up any passes or pick off any.
After spending last year as one of the team's top backup defensive backs, sophomore Lewis Walker will be a key part of the rotation again before starting next year. The 5-11, 175-pounder has decent size and was a state championship level sprinter in Utah. "Lew-Walk" has the tools to be great, and now he'll get a chance to do more after making eight tackles with a sack and a broken up pass. He could work at safety if needed.
Watch Out For … Silva. He should be starting somewhere in the Pac 10, and now that he has a year of experience, he should be a whale of a free safety who makes big things happen all over the field. He's too big and too fast to not have a big year.
Strength: Speed and experience. Five starters are back and there's more than enough experience across the board to assume the secondary will be better. The backups might not have a ton of experience, but they're really, really fast. You could put together a 4x100 relay team of Walker, Ornellas, and any two of the starters and you'd probably win a lot of meets.
Weakness: Pass rush. This group took its lumps last year because of inexperience, but also because the front line did absolutely nothing to pressure the quarterback. Without a sure-thing star pass rusher to count on, the secondary will have to be even tighter and sharper this year.
Outlook: The secondary didn't give up a ton of yards since everyone spent so much time producting with the ground game, but those teams that did throw had little trouble. Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien completed 16-of-20 passes for 253 yards, Utah State's Diondre Borel threw for 344, and UNLV's Omar Clayton threw for 340. On the plus side, this year's secondary could be the team's second biggest strength behind the receiving corps. There's experience, depth, and talent.
Unit Rating: 6
Projected Starters: Senior Scott Enos did a nice job hitting all 34 of his extra points and connected on 12 of his 19 field goal attempts. He went through a rough patch in the middle of the season hitting just two of six field goals over a five game stretch, but he closed well nailing three of the last four. He has a decent enough leg to hit a 47-yarder against UNLV, but he's not consistent.
Sophomore Alex Dunnachie is coming off a nice freshman season averaging 39.2 yards per kick while putting ten inside the 20. While he didn't come up with a big net average, he worked well with the coverage team that allowed a mere 1.7 yards per return. He has a big leg, airing out a 66 yarder, but he doesn't outkick the coverage.
Receiver Ryan Henry will get another shot as the top punt return option after averaging just 5.2 yards per try. He's quick enough to do far more after coming up with a long of just 16. Averaging 22.1 yards per try last year on kickoff returns is Royce Pollard , the starting inside receiver who has good straight-line speed and busted off a 47-yarder.
Watch Out For … Dunnachie to be able to air it out a bit more. He's not going to do too much to alter the plan, but he has the experience to avoid touchbacks and put it inside the 20 on a regular basis. He's a good talent who can up the average to over 40 yards per pop.
Strength: Veterans. Almost everyone is back only losing the top kickoff returner, Jovonte Taylor; he's replaceable even after averaging almost 25 yards per try. The Warriors were fantastic in punt coverage allowing a long of just 15 yards.
Weakness: Punt returns. Greg Salas might get more work after averaging 11.4 yards per try on his five attempts, but it'll be up to Henry to make the return game go. He has to do more.
Outlook: A big-time concern going into last year, the special teams turned out to be a plus. Dunnachie turned out to be a find and Enos was good enough to get by. The Warriors aren't going to beat anyone on special teams, but this won't be a weakness.
Unit Rating: 7
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