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Hawaii Football Game Preview: UH takes on the University of New Mexico

Does the Rainbow Warrior defense have enough to stop one of the best rush attacks in the nation?

NCAA Football: Hawaii at San Jose State Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Gameday Info:

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (4-4, 3-1 MWC) vs New Mexico Lobos (4-3, 2-1 MWC)

October 29, 2016, at 6:00 PM HST, Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

TV: Oceanic Cable PPV and Hawaiian Telcom PPV

Radio: KKEA ESPN 1420 (Honolulu), KNUI 550AM (Maui), KHLO 850AM (Hilo), KKON 790AM (Kona), KTOH 99.9FM (Kauai), KNWJ 104.7FM (American Samoa), XM Radio 203 and Sirius Radio 93.

Web Audio-Cast: ESPN 1420 AM

Spread: -3 Hawaii

Over/Under: 64

S&P+ Prediction: 34.4 - 36 New Mexico (46% win probability for Hawaii)

Gameday Tidbits:

  • The University of Hawaii is on a 6 game losing streak against the University of New Mexico; their last win coming in 1991.
  • UH leads the series with a record of 14-9. They hold an 11-5 record in Honolulu.
  • Prior to the 6 game losing streak the Rainbow Warriors had a 9 game winning streak against the Lobos.
  • In 2015 New Mexico ended a 7-year streak without a bowl game. The University of Hawaii is aiming to end their current 6-year streak without a bowl birth.
  • A win tomorrow would give the program the most wins in a single season since joining the MWC in 2012 and highest overall since 2010.

Special Notes:

  • There will be a discount for DOD civilians, active, reservists, and retired members of the military. The discount is 50% off adult tickets (maximum of 8).
  • UH Manoa students can purchase $15 tickets (3 max per UH Manoa Student ID holder) at the North Endzone box office.
  • The University of Hawaii will honor the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor by recognizing the Varsity Victor Volunteers. The VVV included UH football legends Tommy Kaulukukui and Jyun Hirota.
  • The late U.S. Congressman Mark Takai’s family will serve as honorary captains for the game.

Roster Report:

Hawaii: Questionable: Jeremiah Pritchard (LB); Out for Season: Melvin Davis (RB).

New Mexico: Probable: Michael Walsh (QB), Isaiah Brown (CB), Ryan Santos (S); Questionable: Kimmie Carson (LB), Lamar Jordan (QB); Out: John Russo (S); Out for Season: Garrett Adcock (OL), Romell Jordan (RB).

2016 Team Leaders:

Passing: Dru Brown (Hawaii): 93-150, 1243 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT; Lamar Jordan (New Mexico): 24-48, 345 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: Diocemy Saint Juste (Hawaii): 103 carries, 614 yards, 2 TD; Tyrone Owens (New Mexico): 88 carries, 687 yards, 4 TD

Receiving: Marcus Kemp (Hawaii): 42 receptions, 787 yards, 6 TD; Patrick Reed (New Mexico): 8 receptions, 165 yards, 1 TD

Tackles: Jahlani Tavai (Hawaii): 70 (47 solo) tackles; Nik D’Aanzo (New Mexico): 40 (21 solo) tackles

Sacks: Jahlani Tavai (Hawaii): 3.0 sacks; Garrett Hughes (New Mexico): 5.5 sacks

Pass Breakup: Trayvon Henderson (Hawaii): 5 PBU; Nias Martin (New Mexico): 5 PBU

Interceptions: Jalen Rogers (Hawaii): 3 INT; Jadon Boatright (New Mexico): 1 INT

Names to Know:

Hawaii: (QB) Dru Brown, (RB) Diocemy Saint Juste, (WR) Marcus Kemp, (LB) Jahlani Tavai, (DB) Jalen Rogers, Trayvon Henderson (S)

New Mexico: (QB) Lamar Jordan, (RB) Tyronne Owens, (RB) Teriyon Gipson, (DL) Garret Hughes, (LB) Dakota Cox, (CB) Nias Martin

For the Hawaii depth chart click here and go to page 9.

For the New Mexico depth chart click here and go to page 5.

Key to the Game:

This team is undefeated in a matter of speaking. This season the Rainbow Warriors have allowed all 8 of their opponents to compile 100 yards each game on the ground. 5 opponents have rushed for 200+ and 3 opponents have gotten 300+ yards. Cal and Nevada just missed 200 yards on the box score but if you take out yards lost from sacks (sacks are counted at rush attempts) then they both top 200.

Poor performances and little to no adjustments from Kevin Lempa have led this team to be the 55th worst rush defense in yards per game. However, statistical analysis has shown that yards-per-game is a poor representative of true defense. It casts the net too wide and ignores a lot of small details that matter like pace-of-play.

If you take yards per attempt, Hawaii is the 11th worst team in the nation allowing 5.81 yards-per-attempt. This is nearly 1 yard more than the league average.

What makes things worse is that opposing teams have figured out that the UH run defense is weak. In the last two games, opposing teams have run 77.97% of the time. This was highlighted by Air Force’s near 90% run-play call preference.

New Mexico will attack Hawaii in the same manner that Air Force did. They will dare the 'Bows to stop the run. If Coach Lempa and company cannot figure out how to plug those running holes, it will be a long night for the defense.

Bottom Line:

The game against the Lobos will come down to one thing - defense. Throughout the season, especially since Dru Brown has taken over at quarterback, the offense has been reliable.

The Rainbow Warriors’ bread and butter have been the running game yet against Air Force and San Jose State the passing game did the heavy lifting. The last concern fans should have right now is the offense.

If the defense can hold strong and not allow another 300-yard performance from a run heavy team the ‘Bows should come out with a win. The final score will be 38-28 Hawaii. Diocemy Saint Juste and Paul Harris will continue their strong play but Dru Brown and the receiving corps will be the real stars of the game.

Brown’s QBR and completion percentage have been subpar in the past two games but I expect that to change. UNM is 116th against the pass allowing 8.7 yards per pass. This should play right into big-play threat Marcus Kemp’s hands; he averages 18.7 yards per catch with his longest reception being a 63-yard touchdown. Kemp will help Brown eclipse 300 yards two weeks in a row, accounting for 2 of the 5 touchdowns for the offense. They will be co-MVPs of the game.

Don’t forget to follow along on Twitter to get play-by-play commentary and a few snarky comments from me.

Last but not least GO BOWS!

Stats and info courtesy of the University of Hawaii and the University of New Mexico football programs.