NAVY VS. HAWAII
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii (Aloha Stadium)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 1st at 5:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: CBS Sports Network
Streaming: Requires a television subscription
Radio: ESPN 1420
Head-to-Head: The Warriors lead the series with a 2-1 record, the most recent result in the series being a 42-28 win for Navy in Annapolis back in 2013.
Three things to look for:
1. Keep the positive momentum going
You’ll have to excuse Hawaii fans for being excited. The Warriors had not won in Ft. Collins since 1988. They were an enormous 17-point underdog vs. the Rams. To come away with an opening day victory when so many thought a beat down loss was a near guarantee has to leave the Warriors and their fans elated. Quarterback Cole McDonald is the key for Hawaii. Run-and-shoot teams go as far as the quarterback takes them. He destroyed the Rams for 418 passing yards and 3 passing touchdowns, and led the team in rushing with 98 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. If McDonald and his receiving arsenal can replicate their Ft. Collins form, they’ll have a chance vs. the heavily-favored Midshipmen (as if spreads frighten UH after Week 0).
2. Take advantage of experience
Navy’s defense has not played any games yet and will be returning only four starters on that side of the ball. Linebackers D.J. Palmore, Micah Thomas, and cornerback Tyris Wooten are the lost leaders from a surprisingly good 2017 Navy defense. As usual, Hawaii’s best defense will be its offense, and taking advantage of a Navy defense lean on experience will be important. This is opening day for Navy. The draw back of the run-and-shoot offense is that good series or bad series, it puts the defense in a compromising position, as evidenced by Colorado State’s improbable 2nd half comeback in which UH went from leading 37-7 to winning 43-34. Attack, attack, attack will be UH’s best bet for a second straight upset. The defense will be gassed, but it won’t matter if UH keeps scoring.
3. Improve on defense
Corey Batoon’s defense performed admirably in the first half of the Colorado State game, but seemed to switch off after the Warriors went up 37-7 in the middle of the third quarter. Some of that might have been because of the elevation, some of it because Colorado State has a very talented offense. Regardless, this week Hawaii takes on a completely different type of offense in Navy’s triple option. With quarterbacks Malcolm Perry and Zach Abey returning, the Midshipmen will be a tough out for the Warrior defense despite Navy only returning four starters on offense in addition to four on defense. Navy’s defense doesn’t figure to be the push over the Colorado State defense was, so Hawaii’s defense will want to clean up the mistakes from the second half.
I, along with many people in the gambling and college football community, were way off base on the Hawaii-Colorado State game. Cole McDonald and the Warriors dazzled on offense and gave fans hope for a season much better than the 3-9 type projections placed on them. This week it’s back to Oahu. Will fans pack Aloha Stadium and give the team the reception they deserve? It’s been a long time since Aloha Stadium was rocking. I thought McDonald was immaculate vs. Colorado State. If he can play somewhere close to that level again, of course Hawaii can beat Navy. I’m calling for another CBS Sports Network classic in Week 1. Give me Navy 30, Hawaii 31.