From a neutral perspective, Hawaii vs. San Diego State appeared to be the game of the week in the Mountain West. Yes, the television decision makers disagreed, relegating the contest local providers, but Warriors-Aztecs was the matchup that decided the West Division in 2019.
One year can make quite a difference, it seems.
The game started off in sluggish fashion, with both teams trading punts on their first three drives. The longest drive during that span came from San Diego State, amassing 38 yards. Not exactly a shootout. Hawaii’s defense was holding up early on against the Aztec rushing attack through most of the first quarter.
Then the flood gates opened.
A 51-yard touchdown run by San Diego State’s Jordan Byrd opened the scoring for the afternoon contest. Hawaii would punt for the fourth consecutive drive, and then the Aztecs scored another long touchdown run, this time running back Greg Bell sprinted 62-yards to the house. Suddenly the rush defense was leaking. The Aztecs led 14-0 after one quarter, somehow.
Hawaii would punt for the fifth consecutive drive in the second quarter. This time, the Warrior defense would respond by forcing the Aztecs to punt. Then disaster struck as Melquise Stovall muffed a punt to allow the Aztecs into prime scoring territory. Greg Bell would do Greg Bell things again, and suddenly it was 21-0.
On the next possession, Hawaii would punt again. The protection from the offensive line was once again a big problem for Hawaii. The defense would once again respond when cornerback Michael Washington intercepted Aztecs quarterback Carson Baker, essentially fielding an arm punt.
Good news: the next drive didn’t end in a punt. Bad news: it ended with a pick-six. Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro was picked off by Segun Olubi for the house call. On the next drive, you guessed it, Hawaii would punt. 28-0 Aztecs at halftime, complete and utter failure on offense for Hawaii.
The offense would improve in the second half, but obviously the damage was done. Hawaii would add a field goal in the third quarter, eliminating the possibility of a shutout. San Diego State would also add a field goal in the early fourth quarter, making the score 31-3.
On the next offensive possession for the Warriors, finally something to cheer about. Calvin Turner Jr. did fumble in the first half, but otherwise #7 has been a star for the Warriors. 75-yards to the end zone, touchdown Warriors.
That, however, was the end of the excitement for the Warriors Saturday afternoon. San Diego State ran over the Warriors to a 34-10 victory.
The stats are eye-popping. Hawaii held quarterback Carson Baker to 4/13 passing for 30 passing yards and 2 interceptions. Most would read such a stat line and think, “Hawaii dominated this game!” Despite the ineffective passing attack, the Aztecs owned the line of scrimmage and rushed for 326 yards. The Hawaii defense cannot shoulder all of the blame, Hawaii’s offense failed to move the ball and provide the defense with a breather, but this was a collectively bad showing for the Warriors.
This is now back-to-back road games in which Hawaii was dominated along the line of scrimmage. A concerning trend, and a shocking one considering the respect the Warrior offensive line rightfully received coming into 2020. Hawaii has now conceded 886 rushing yards in the last three games. Not ideal.
NEXT UP: a return to Oahu to play Boise State. We think. Keep in mind, the Broncos had 14 players miss their game against Colorado State due to COVID-19. That number has trended in the wrong direction in recent weeks. Cancellation is not out of the realm of possibilities. Should Boise State keep their virus spread in check (enough to play, anyway), that game will be on CBS Sports Network.