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Hawaii Football Game Preview: UH Rainbow Warriors vs SDSU Aztecs

Will Hawaii be able to stop Pumphrey?

NCAA Football: San Diego State at Utah State Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Gameday Info:

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (4-5, 3-2 MWC) vs San Diego State Aztecs (7-1, 4-0 MWC)

November 5, 2016 at 1:00 PM HST, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California

TV: CBS Sports Network

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: +22 Hawaii

Over/Under: 54

S&P+ Prediction: 38.6-19.1 San Diego State (13% win probability for Hawaii)

Gameday Tidbits:

  • The Rainbow Warriors need to win 3 out of their next 4 games in order to remain bowl eligible.
  • The outlook for bowl eligibility remains bleak as Hawaii has lost all 4 matchups against San Diego State since joining the MWC in 2012.
  • The program’s last win against the Aztecs dates back to 2005. SDSU leads the series with a 19-9-2 record.
  • There remains hope, as UH have won their last 2 road games. Where a win would give them their longest road win streak since 2007.
  • Speaking of 3’s, the Rainbow Warriors will face their 3rd top 10 rush attack in a row in San Diego.
  • San Diego State has allowed 26 points in their Mountain West games. Hawaii is average 33 points per game in their MWC contests.

Roster Report:

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

San Diego State: Probable: Kalan Montgomery (CB); Questionable: Rashad Penny (RB); Out: Ryan Pope (OL); Out for Season: Kahale Warring (TE), Nai’m McGee (S), Randy Ricks (DL), Turner Bernard (C), Joe Salcedo (OL); Suspended: Marcus Stamps (RB), Billy Vaughn Jr. (CB), Derek Babjash (CB).

2016 Team Leaders:

Passing: Dru Brown (Hawaii): 109-178, 1416 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT; Christian Chapman (San Diego State): 93-148, 345 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT

Rushing: Diocemy Saint Juste (Hawaii): 120 carries, 713 yards, 2 TD; Donnel Pumphrey (San Diego State): 223 carries, 1469 yards, 13 TD

Receiving: Marcus Kemp (Hawaii): 50 receptions, 876 yards, 6 TD; Mikah Holder (San Diego State): 15 receptions, 358 yards, 3 TD

Tackles: Jahlani Tavai (Hawaii): 81 (51 solo) tackles; Calvin Munson (San Diego State): 66 (35 solo) tackles

Sacks: Jahlani Tavai (Hawaii): 3.0 sacks; Alex Barrett (San Diego State): 6.5 sacks

Pass Breakup: Trayvon Henderson (Hawaii): 5 PBU; Derek Babiash (San Diego State): 6 PBU

Interceptions: Jalen Rogers (Hawaii): 3 INT; Damontae Kazee (San Diego State): 3 INT

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

For the San Diego State depth chart click here and go to page 24.

Keys to the game:

Stop Donnel Pumphrey: Do I need to say this? I mean if it were not on the game plan for Kevin Lempa I don’t know what to say. We have rated him the best player in the MWC for two years running now and he leads the NCAA in rushing yards by more than 300 yards with a grand total of 1,469 yards. According to the NCAA’s rushing leaderboard, he currently sits at 33rd with 6.6 yards per attempt. Pumphrey is also one of nine players (150 total) that have that line with more than 100 carries on the season.

Not only is he an incredible runner but he catches passes too. He is the leader on the Aztecs with – receptions. It might not be totally fair to compare him to the last great SDSU running back but his game is as well rounded as that of Marshall Faulk. You can take to the bank that if the defense can't at least slow down the game will be a blowout.

Get the defense up: Hawaii has been one of the worst teams defensively in the 1st quarter. They have given up a score to opponents 6 out 9 times and 4 of those scores have been touchdowns. In addition, they rank 118th amongst FBS teams in scoring defense in the 1st quarter, allowing 10.2 points each game.

Leonard Peters brought it up last week and said it quite succinctly, maybe the Rainbow Warriors should start with a deficit because the defense seems to only kick in gear once they get scored on.

Keep it Simple: We’ve sort of seen the gunslinger in Dru Brown come out in the past few weeks. He has gone from 83.7% completion percentage to 57.1%; while each game he has shown a propensity to take more and more gambles. These show signs that Brown is becoming more and more comfortable with the offense. However, the gambles that he has been taking mirrors similar bad decisions that former starter Ikaika Woolsey made.

There is no doubt in my mind that Dru Brown possesses greater talent than Woolsey but the increase in bad decisions has produced similar results. The coaching staff needs to help him get in rhythm early with simple reads and simple throws. I might even argue to keep things the routes short and sweet throughout. In his most effective game (against Nevada), the coaches kept the gameplan run based complimented with a "vanilla" passing game.

Bottom Line:

Before the week started, the odds makers had UH as a 28 point underdog. While that number has dropped to 22, the concepts behind the figure remain. UH has been terrible against the run and will face yet another top rush attack.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the game going that well. Pumphrey is a fantastic talent and nothing we’ve seen from the defense gives us any indication that they can stop them.

Not only that but it seems as though teams have figured out how to stop the offense. San Diego State is 8th in the country allowing just 4.5 yards per play. For reference Michigan, the best defense in the NCAA, allows 3.8 yards per play.

The signs do not point to a UH win but if the game against Air Force has taught me anything, things aren't guaranteed. I do however believe that the final score will be 34-13, Aztecs. I expect Pumphrey to account for 200 yards will tallying 3 touchdowns.

I retain hope that the Rainbow Warriors can pull this out. If they ever decide to put together a complete game today would be the day.

I want to see a bowl game!!! So, Let's GO BOWS!

Unfortunately, I will not be able to watch today’s game. I will follow along when I can and will try to keep you all updated.

Stats and info courtesy of the University of Hawaii and the San Diego State University football programs.