After a surprise 2016 bowl appearance in Nick Rolovich’s debut season as head coach for Hawaii, the Warriors surprised once again in 2017, but not in a good way. After a rare 2-0 start for the program, Hawaii went 1-9 the rest of the way to finish 3-9.
This unexpectedly disappointing season led to a mass exodus. The likes of Dru Brown, Dylan Collie, and Viane Moala transferred away. Assistant coaches went elsewhere. Rolovich countered the negativity by signing a solid recruiting class (6th in the MWC according to 24/7) and hiring Corey Batoon as the new defensive coordinator, along with Mark Banker (candidate for the head coaching job in 2008 and 2011) among other additions to the staff.
The biggest change? A return to the run-and-shoot offense, the scheme that put Hawaii Warriors football on the map. Will these changes be enough to turn things around in 2018?
Hawaii Warriors 2018 Schedule
Bye: Week 11
Week 0 - Aug. 25 at Colorado State (Ft. Collins, Colo.)
It’s back: the Week 0 game. Hawaii and Colorado State arranged for this game to be played in the final week of August. Last season, the Rams went to Hawaii and dropped 51 points on the Warriors. That game rocked UH to their core and weren’t the same the rest of the season. Winning in Ft. Collins won’t be easy, but the Warriors will look to take advantage of catching a young, inexperienced Rams team early in the season.
Week 1 - Sept. 1 vs. Navy (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo returns home to play against his alma mater. Navy and Hawaii last played each other in 2013, the Midshipmen winning in Annapolis 42-28. This figures to be one of the tougher games of the season. That said, opening day + the return of the run-and-shoot + service academy in town = a potentially festive atmosphere.
Week 2 - Sept. 8 vs. Rice (Honolulu, Hawaii)
The Owls will be breaking in a new coach in former Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren. Obviously things weren’t going well with the previous regime. This game will be the first of three (!!) consecutive road games for the Owls (with a bye after this game). Bloomgren implementing Stanford’s brand of football is cause for concern, but the Warriors catch the Owls early in the rebuilding process.
Week 3 - Sept. 15 at Army (West Point, N.Y.)
Somehow, Hawaii will travel 821,017 (made up, but probably accurate number) miles to the East Coast again (who is making these arrangements?) this season. Army beat San Diego State to close the 2017 season, an Aztecs team that has beaten Hawaii with ease ever since the Warriors joined the Mountain West. Needless to say, this will be a tough game.
Week 4 - Sept. 22 vs. Duquesne (Honolulu, Hawaii)
The Dukes will travel all the way from Pennsylvania to Hawaii. It’s been a really long time since Hawaii lost to an FCS program. 2000, to be exact, when Portland State beat the Warriors 45-20. I don’t think Nick Rolovich will appreciate that trip down memory lane. UH shouldn’t have much difficulty with the Dukes.
Week 5 - Sept. 29 at San Jose State (San Jose, Calif.)
The Spartans were one of UH’s three wins in 2017. Nick Rolovich hasn’t lost to the Spartans as a head coach, beating the Spartans in 2016 as well. Rule #1 of Hawaii football: there is no such thing as an easy road game. That said, the Spartans were the worst team in the Mountain West in 2017. If the Warriors can’t win this game, it could be a rough season.
Week 6 - Oct. 6 vs. Wyoming (Honolulu, Hawaii)
The Paniolo Trophy is on the line again, after Hawaii let one get away in 2017 when Josh Allen and the Cowboys beat UH in overtime in Laramie. This clash of styles will be fascinating. The high-flying run-and-shoot offense vs. Wyoming’s raucous, turnover-creating defense. Something has to give.
Week 7 - Oct. 13 at Brigham Young (Provo, Utah)
Maybe the biggest gut punch of the 2017 season was rival BYU coming to Hawaii and beating the Warriors with a pair of QBs that were buried in the depth. An old rival of Hawaii’s, the Warriors have never won in Provo. Both these programs will be looking to bounce back from dreadful seasons, but especially the Cougars. Their nine-loss 2017 season was the most since 1955.
Week 8 - Oct. 20 vs. Nevada (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Nick Rolovich was once the offensive coordinator for Nevada. It’s the job that propelled him to head coach at UH. Rolovich likely has this game circled on the schedule regardless, but one could argue the 0-5 Wolf Pack beating Hawaii 35-21 last fall was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Hawaii will be out for revenge.
Week 9 - Oct. 27 at Fresno State (Fresno, Calif.)
The unquestioned shocker of the 2017 Mountain West season: the emergence of a borderline-dominant Fresno State Bulldogs team. Titans in the trenches, the Bulldogs won the West Division in route to a 10-4 season. This might be the toughest challenge of Hawaii’s 2018 season.
Week 10 - Nov. 3 vs. Utah State (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Returning from Fresno, Hawaii will stay on Oahu for nearly a month. That stretch begins with Utah State. The Aggies slammed the Warriors 38-0 last season, the largest margin of loss for the Warriors in 2017. Hawaii will hope to be in better moods this time around.
Week 12 - Nov. 17 vs. UNLV (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Remember the last time Hawaii hosted the Rebels on Senior Night? OHHHH. MYYYY. GOODNESS.
Week 13 - Nov. 24 at San Diego State (San Diego, Calif.)
Rocky Long’s Aztecs have been a consistent force in the West Division. Rolovich has been out-scored 83-7 by the Aztecs since he took over the Hawaii football program. This is an awfully tough way to end the regular season. UH will hope to have wrapped up their bowl goals before this trip.