After a disappointing loss against the reigning National Champs, the Rainbow Warriors look to improve their record to 2-1.
Saturday's game versus the UC Davis Aggies will not sell a lot of tickets nor garner national attention. In fact, the tickets that my parents have are $10 cheaper than the other games played in Aloha Stadium. You could see why as the Aggies are an FBS team and a win against them will not count towards bowl eligibility for Hawaii.
The Aggies are 0-2 to start the 2015 season and under coach Ron Gould have a record of 7-16. Far from impressive I know. Make no mistake about it...
This game is the most important game of the season for UH.
I think we can all agree that the Hawaii defense took great strides this year. They even gained some recognition based on their effort against the Buckeyes last week. The defense was not only a concern for me coming into Ohio but coming into this season. Its a pleasant surprise for the defense to become a strength for this team but the spotlight has shifted. There are growing concerns regarding the offense.
Don't get me wrong, the defense cannot afford to regress and must continue to build upon the success they've had so far this season. They will be heavily relied upon when the team ventures to Wisconsin and Boise in the coming weeks.
No one on the team will say it but they were let down by a horrid offensive performance last week. I still remain optimistic on the season outlook for the offense but the inability to move the ball is alarming. Adding to that the turnovers continued to be a problem with two interceptions and fumbles last week. Questions need to be answered by team and this game is the perfect time to answer them.
Coming back from the tough road trip the coaching staff stressed that they are not in panic mode. Its hard to even reason why they should be. This team's offense has some questions that need to be answer but with only two games into the season take your hand slowly away from the panic button.
You might look at the completion percentage that Max Wittek sports (41.9%) and freak out. His passes haven't been on the mark all the time but there were quite a few times that the receivers dropped very catch-able balls. In the team press conference on Tuesday, Norm Chow joked that the team can't catch on offense or defense.
Numerous drives in the past two weeks drives were cut short because of untimely drops from the receiving corps. When dropping balls is brought up by the coaching staff in the press conference you know that its a problem with a capital "P". The receiving corps will need to show they can catch the ball this week or the coaching staff might start looking for other ways to move the ball. UH can ill-afford to miss out of scoring drives because of fundamental breakdowns in the offense.
Note the discrepancy in time of possession, yardage and plays run for Hawaii this year (stats courtesy of University of Hawaii Football)
Being so far behind in offensive production each game will not end well as seen in the Ohio State game. Even more important, the team will want to work on its efficiency. Against the Buckeyes the Rainbow Warriors sported a poor third down conversion rate of 14.3%. This was more than half of their already questionable conversion rate of 36.8% against Colorado. That number would place them in the bottom quarter of the NCAA when we take a look at the 2014 ranks.
What's worse is the 2 to 1 ratio of turnovers to touchdowns that the team sports. The Rainbow Warriors are 4th worst in the nation with six total turnovers on the season (worst being the Mountain West's own Colorado State with 9).
In fact ESPN has an efficiency statistic and Hawaii ranks 121st in the nation (128 total ranks) with a rating of 13.3. Granted the metric is arbitrary information without understanding the derivation of the formula but for a moment let's take it at face value. Based on what we've witness the past two weeks, its not hard to see why Hawaii ranks so low.
Team efficiencies are based on the point contributions of each unit to the team's scoring margin, on a per-play basis. The values are adjusted for strength of schedule and down-weighted for "garbage time" (based on win probability). The scale goes from 0 to 100; higher numbers are better and the average is roughly 50 for all categories. - ESPN
These are all evidence that scream PRACTICE!
(Photo courtesy of dunk360.com)
The team did practice, Allen Iverson. They repeated drills throughout the week till they got it right according to the coaches. So yes we talkin bout practice. This team needed practice. They show promise and have talent but that gets you no where without execution on gameday. Which has been severely lacking so far this season.
The game against the UC Davis Aggies provides a supposed easier opponent to get things rolling for the offense. Much like how powerhouse teams schedule middling programs like UH to get a "practice" run, UH will need to use every single minute against UC Davis (no disrespect intended) to right the ship on offense.
Coach Chow and offensive coordinator Don Bailey stressed execution all week. I couldn't agree more with what he said during the presser above in regards to UC Davis being an FCS team.
Its not about them and it wasn’t about Ohio State either. Its about us and our willingness to do things we need to do to be successful. - Norm Chow
And it is... The coaching staff set a tone in practice to prevent a let down against the Aggies. Its now up to the players to go out and execute. If not for the sake of the win today but for the sake of creating good habits for the HUUUUGE games they will have the next two weeks, let alone the rest of the season.
This is the most important game of the year.
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