SAN JOSE STATE vs. HAWAII
Location: Halawa, Hawaii (Aloha Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 14th at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports, pay-per-view in Hawaii only. Not televised on the mainland
Streaming: I don’t know, man. The Mountain West claims the game will be on the Watch Stadium app, but they’ve yanked the stream before it even starts the past two home games. Check to see if it’s up near game time, but don’t rely on this option, mainland viewers. Expect to be listening to Bobby Curran on the radio stream. Get your act together, Spectrum.
Radio: ESPN 1420
Head-to-head: Series is tied 19-19-1, Hawaii winning last season’s game 34-17 in San Jose. Thanks to the 35-35 tie in 1991, Saturday’s game will break the tie for one of these teams.
Summary: There is a lot to sort through. Last week, while I was on the road to Reno, the Honolulu Star Advertiser broke news that offensive line coach Chris Naeole had resigned from his position, citing “philosophical differences with the handling of disciplinary matters in the program” as the reason for his departure. Penalties have been plenty from the offensive line position, and some suspensions were handed out for the Colorado State game. I cannot claim to know what happened behind the scenes, but obviously a mid-season coaching departure is not ideal.
Things didn’t get any better come Saturday. Hawaii dropped its fourth consecutive game, but the Warriors could be forgiven for losing to UCLA, Wyoming, and Colorado State. Nevada on the other hand, came into the game 0-5, leaving Wolf Pack fans wondering if Jay Norvell was the wrong hire. Against the script, the Warriors lost 21-35, watching Ty Gangi victimize the Warrior defense with 4 touchdowns to his name. Running back Kelton Moore had 216 yards on 19 carries and won Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week.
This loss however, wasn’t entirely on the defense. Dru Brown made some good plays, but his two turnovers, an interception and a fumble, were costly. The team had 114 yards worth of penalties, and it seemed they always came at the worst possible time. One penalty in particular erased an 84-yard touchdown run by Diocemy Saint Juste, who bad result aside, was incredible on Saturday night with 241 yards.
The Warriors can’t dwell on the loss for too long, needing to win four of their final six games in order to make a bowl game. It starts with San Jose State at home, who bring with them the same narrative Nevada had up until last week. The Spartans are 1-6 and have endured blowout loss after blowout loss. They’ve given life to previously struggling teams like Utah State and UNLV, both blasting the Spartans by 20+ points. Cannot sugarcoat this: it’s been ugly.
On offense, the three headed attack of Zamore Zigler, Tyler Nevens, and Malike Robinson is the fulcrum of the offense. It’s unclear when quarterback Montel Aaron will return from injury, but he’s played better than current starter Josh Love. Defensively, the Spartans did improve last week vs. Fresno State, holding them to 27 points, but that’s mostly because things couldn’t get any worse than the performances vs. Utah State and UNLV. It’s clearly a rebuilding year for the first year staff in San Jose. On paper, it looks like a good matchup for Hawaii, but that’s what I said last week.
Prediction: I was way off. This week I’ll proceed with caution. If Montel Aaron returns at QB for the Spartans, he gives them a better shot at winning, but things have been pretty rough this SJSU team. One thing I’ve learned about Hawaii football over the years: keep the hot takes lukewarm when judging the Rainbow Warriors after a road loss. I’ll never forget the 2004 season in which Hawaii was eviscerated by 50+ points on the road vs. Boise State and Fresno State, but managed to knock off TWO Big Ten teams in Northwestern and Michigan State to close the season. Hawaii is just better at home, as most teams are, but the travel this team deals with is a factor other programs cannot fully understand. For example, Hawaii had traveled to Massachusetts, California, and Wyoming before a program like Washington State had played a single road game. That’s not to dismiss the current issues with the team, the penalties have got to stop, but history suggests it’s unwise to give up on this team. The path to winning four of the next six begins with San Jose State. I’ll stick with last year’s score and predict Hawaii beats San Jose State 34-17.