Hawaii fell short in their season opener vs. the 25th ranked Washington Huskies Saturday night in Honolulu, but my goodness, did they look good doing it.
The Warriors opened up with a 10 play, 58 yard drive in just over three minutes, capped off by Senior Joey Iosefa going over the top to put Hawaii on the board. Sophomore Ikaika Woolsey looked calm and composed on his first drive as well, going 4/4 for 50 yards to open the game.
Woolsey and the 'Bows came out on their second drive and looked just as good as they did on the first, effectively moving the ball the length of the field over a 17 play, 79 yard drive that lead to a Tyler Hadden field goal. Through two drives, UH held a huge advantage for Time of Possession, hanging on to the ball for nearly ten minutes to the Huskies two.
The Warriors defense kept the Huskies from much early success, but a costly roughing the passer penalty on third and long lead to a John Ross 20-yard TD and put UW within a score.
Hawaii drove the length of the field again, but failed on a fourth down conversion on the Washington 9 to give the ball back to Jeff Lindquist...who would launch it 91-yards down the middle of field to John Ross for the score, completing the fourteen-point swing for the Huskies.
Senior Tyler Hadden was 1-2 on Field Goals in the first half, nailing a 28-yarder and missing a 40-yarder just as a the clock ran out on the first half, sending the 'Bows into the locker room trailing 17-10.
Saturday was our first taste of Hawaii's new 3-4 defense under new DC Kevin Clure, and it shined in the second half.
The Warriors forced a three and out on five of the first six UW possessions in the second half, holding the Huskies to just 38 yards in that span. The front seven created a ton of pressure on Jeff Lindquist, forcing him to make quick decisions or throw it away almost all of the second half.
Hawaii hit a field goal early in the third and fourth quarters to put the 'Bows within one, but that's as close as they would get as Washington holds off the Warriors in a surprisingly close season opener, 17-16.
I, like other Mountain West fans I assume, was shocked by how well Hawaii played out of the gate and down the stretch in the second half. Things seemed to be clicking and it looks as if UH could be a much more improved team in 2014. Here's a couple thoughts on tonights opener:
1. Ikaika Woolsey was the right choice as starter.
Utah transfer Quinton Pedroza may have staked a claim for that title after his debut performance for the 'Bows on Saturday night, catching nine passes for 90 yards. He was originally set to be the back up H-Receiver behind Harding this year, but the setbacks at WR convinced the coaches to move him over to Y, and it seems to be paying dividends. His size and athleticism make him a great asset for Woolsey on short routes, and should see a lot of balls thrown his way this season.