Renewed excitement is in the air in Honolulu as Norm Chow takes over as the Warriors head coach. This year will be different with Coach Chow using his Pro-style offense instead of the Run and Shoot Hawaii fans have been used to since 1999.
With just five days away from the season opener, the Warriors are ready with a game plan and the starting positions seems to be set. It will definitely be a daunting task to upset the preseason No. 1 team in college football USC but coach Chow and the Warrior are pumped up to play anyone. Being show on FOX nationally and playing in front of an estimated sold out crowd of 93,000, the Warriors are excited to play in such a big event as this.
This is the largest crowd they will play in since Florida in 2008 (90,000). Warrior fans are optimistic but only to the point that they will have a good showing, take the defeat and head home with some confidence for the rest of the season.
The offense will headline Duke transfer quarterback Sean Schroeder. The south paw won the job on the fourth day of fall camp and established some leadership in the huddle. In the two- back set, returning starter Joey Iosepa and Will Gregory will start for the Warriors. In a one-back formation it will be either Iosepa or Gregory. For the receivers, Scott Harding will be on the strong side. Billy Ray Stutzmann, Trevor Davis and Chris Gant will rotate on the single-side.
Senior Miah Ostrowski will be in the slotback when they are in a three-receiver set. Warrior fans will see a new position in the formation with one or two tight ends. Craig Cofer emerged as the starting TE and Duke transfer Ryan Hall will rotate with Cofer or they will both be in with the two TE formation. Protecting Schroeder this year will be a young inexperienced line. Left tackle Blake Muir, left guard Kapua Sai, center Ben Clarke, right guard Dave Lefotu and right tackle Sean Shigematsu will start on the O-line. Shigematsu last year was the left tackle before being injured last season at Washington. This year he will have to protect Schroeder's blind-side since he's a lefty.
On the defensive side there are a mixture of speed and experience and that seems to be an excellent mixture for new defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer. Kaumeyer's 4-3 set will have blitz packages and have guys all over the place to disguise their coverage. The D-line is stacked with Paipai Falemalu and Beau Yap at the ends. Siasau Matagiese and Moses Samia are the tackles.
For the linebackers, Art Laurel will be on the strong side, T.J. Taimatuia will be in the middle and George Daly-Lyles is on the weak side. The corners are Mike Edwards and Tony Grimes and the safeties are John Hardy-Tuliau and Bubba Poueu-Luna. Mike Sellers can play safety and nickelback and Ne'Quon Phillips can be the third cornerback.
Overall, the schedule doesn't look promising for a bowl bid but if the Warriors stay healthy they may have a shot at a run towards the end of the season. They will also need to win one or two games on the road and take care of business at home.
If they get six wins that will be an accomplished season no doubt about it. Warrior fans show throw caution to their optimism on this season. They can't compare this season to the 1999 season when new head coach June Jones took over a team from 0-12 to 9-4. It will take a couple of years for Chow to get his weapons for the Pro-style offense to work.
Also as a side note, the fans need to show up and support the Warriors at Aloha Stadium. Yes the die-hard season ticket holders are there but the students and other fans need to support the only football team in town. If the team walks out on the field to a half empty stadium how do you think they will feel? I wouldn't be as pumped. The tone of the game will be dull.
Through the years when Hawaii was playing on the mainland to WAC teams they had an advantage playing in front of 12,000 to 18,000 fans. There was no excitement in the air for the home team so the Warriors can focus on their job and come home with a victory(14-14 on the road since 2007). This is our pro-team and if the players see a packed house who knows how jacked up they will get and play.