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Hawaii football: Who is the real Ikaika Woosely?

Five (dark?) years after being recruited to Hawaii by Nick Rolovich, Woosely is now reunited with Rolo and the offense he was always meant to run.

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Is Ikaika Woosely the below average passer that the numbers seem to suggest? Or was he the victim of a coaching and system change that tried and failed to turn a series of QBs into one dimensional pocket passers. Let’s take a look.

Some Background

It’s been a long journey, but Woosely has finally won the starting Quarterback job at the University of Hawaii.

Woosely was originally recruited to Hawaii in 2011 by then Offensive Coordinator Nick Rolovich. A strong armed QB with some speed, Woosely spent a year on the scout team at City College of San Francisco before enrolling at UH. He entered as a true freshmen and redshirted in 2012 – Norm Chow had taken over as head coach and honored his scholarship. Gone was the Run n Shoot/Spread Offense system that Woosely was recruited to run and in its place Chow installed a Pro-Style offense and a somewhat bizarre rule that all QBs had to wear knee braces.

Despite strong showings in practices Ikaika was routinely buried in the depth chart behind a series of higher pedigree transfers brought in by Chow (Schroeder, Graham, Wittek).

Due to injuries and ineffectiveness of the Chow transfers Woosely took over the starting job at various points in 2013, 2014 and 2015 (career stats ~3,600yds, 48% completion percentage, 18td/22int). The results were underwhelming, but we did see some flashes of the player Rolo probably hoped he would become.

Who will show up in 2016?

With the arrival of Rolo and OC Brian Smith, Hawaii is expected to lean strongly on its stable of talented running backs. A healthy dose of Read Option and four wide receiver sets should create space for Woosely to improvise and make plays with his feet and strong arm.

He isn’t likely to become an accurate passer, but Rolo and Smith should bring back Run n Shoot elements that get receivers open in space, which will help his completion percentage.  In addition he has arguably the deepest and most talented receiving corp Hawaii has seen since its Sugar Bowl appearance (watch out for John Ursua).

My Take

I’ll admit I didn’t want Woosely to get the starting job out of fall camp. I wanted a new chapter with a young QB who had years to grow with the program. That being said I’ll give Woosely a pass. He was not a fit for Chow’s offense, he had 4 offensive coordinators in three years, the O-Line struggled and he usually came in as a result of injury……but now ROLO IS BACK!

Is Woosely the second coming of Colt Brennan?...history would say no. Is he a good athlete and an average passer who had the misfortune of playing under Norm Chow…probably. If he can make the reads, run when called upon, buy time with his feet, and complete a few short to medium passes then Hawaii’s talented running backs and receiving corp should be able to make some plays.

I think we are going to see a that version of Woosely in 2016 - maybe it will be the system, maybe the Rolo reunion, or maybe just a better supporting cast, but I expect to see the real Woosely in 2016.