HAWAII VS. NEW MEXICO
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Date/Time: Saturday, November 7th at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports (PPV in the islands only, so no TV channel for mainlanders)
Streaming: A stream provided by Spectrum Sports. Mainlanders only, the feed is geo-blocked in Hawaii. The Team1Sports App must be downloaded on your phone/tablet/whatever in order to watch.
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: Hawaii leads this series 15-10. Entering 2019, the Rainbow Warriors had lost 7 straight to the Lobos dating back to 1993, but ended that skid last season with a 45-31 victory in which the Warriors jumped out to an enormous lead, but the Lobos closed the gap late. Hawaii has not beaten New Mexico at Aloha Stadium since 1991.
Three things to look for:
1. It’s time for the passing game to shine
It was a bittersweet mainland road trip for the Hawaii Warriors, splitting the pair of games with a comfortable win over Fresno, but an unexpected blowout loss to Wyoming. Hawaii’s offense has been unusual to the typical Rainbow Warrior supporter, Hawaii going through feast and famine in the rushing attack the first two football games, the passing game taking a back seat.
This isn’t a total surprise, Todd Graham never claimed to be retaining the run-and-shoot offense from the Nick Rolovich regime. Still, an average of 42 rushing attempts a game is not what fans are used to.
This week, however, might change that early trend. Hawaii football is not unfamiliar with New Mexico defensive coordinator Rocky Long’s defensive scheme. The 3-3-5 set has always aimed to shutdown the opposing running game, and most of the time it does exactly that. Even without San Diego State’s talent, Long’s Lobo defense held San Jose State to 98 rushing yards on 28 carries.
...but, also conceded 481 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. I’m no football coach, but I think we’ll see Chevan Cordeiro air it out Saturday.
2. Will the defense bounce back?
There was a lot to be encouraged with Hawaii’s “war dog” defense in the season-opening victory over Fresno State. Against Wyoming, the results were mixed.
Conceding 31 points and 393 total yards to the Cowboys, not many would label that performance dominant or even decent, but Graham, defensive coordinator Victor Santa Cruz, and his staff did what they could considering circumstance. During the FS1 broadcast, a graphic flashed across the screen that showed that Wyoming’s offensive line out-weighed Hawaii’s defensive line by nearly 50 lbs. It’s no secret that the defensive line, the end positions specifically, would be a work in progress in 2020.
That said, not many expected Hawaii’s defensive line to be blown back like it was in Laramie. The Cowboy running backs weren’t being touched before passing the line of scrimmage. Thankfully, Hawaii’s linebackers are very good and mitigated the problem to some extent, but it’s clear the defensive line might be a potential weakness for the Warriors this season.
New Mexico’s offense appears to be a balanced spread offense led by junior quarterback Tevaka Tuioti, whom threw for 292 passing yards against San Jose State. The Lobos rushed the ball 40 times, albeit to the tune of 3.7 yards per carry. With the likes of San Diego State, Boise State, Nevada, and San Jose State on the schedule in the coming month, this might be the Warrior defense’s last chance to get right before things get tough.
3. Hawaii football in an empty stadium
Hawaii’s dive into the bizarre world of football during the pandemic started with two consecutive road games. Now, the Warriors return to Aloha Stadium ready to play the Lobos, who have also yet to play a home game. In their case, however, due to very strict state regulations preventing them from playing.
You’ve probably heard the controversy by now. No fans at the game, and Spectrum Sports is charging $69 PPV for each game to fans living in the islands. Oof. Mainland fans have the streaming app, but for locals it’s pay up or listen to the radio.
Some have countered: well, just have a bunch of family and friends chip in and we’ll all watch it together. Well, technically, residents aren’t supposed to be congregating either with the virus still uncontrolled. Football during the pandemic is not ideal, and it’s presenting problems all sorts of problems in Hawaii.
You can purchase a fan cutout that will appear in Aloha Stadium for $50, but otherwise the only way Hawaii residents can visibly see Hawaii playing New Mexico in front of vacant orange stands is to sign up for PPV.
How will the Warriors handle playing in front of no fans, having to channel their own energy? Only time will tell.
Hey fans!!!!— Hawaii Athletics (@HawaiiAthletics) October 30, 2020
UH Fan Cutouts available now and just $50 for the entire season. Buy one for yourself, a friend, relative or even the family pet. Get yours today!!
Purchase » https://t.co/7rj7ZU5xHn#BowsTogether #UHFanCutouts pic.twitter.com/6DloNqyDKV
Welp, I drank the Kool-Aid after the Fresno State game, and Wyoming made me look silly for it. I predicted a UH win, and instead the Warriors were slammed.
I was surprised by the play of quarterback Chevan Cordeiro. There were some dropped passes, but he really struggled to get the ball out of his hand in a timely manner much of the night. I also didn’t expect Hawaii’s defensive line to get blown up like it did.
This time around, it won’t be freezing and Hawaii will be refreshed playing i
n front of the home fans at Aloha Stadium. New Mexico figures to be much better coached than they’ve been in the past, and Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense has a habit of confounding opposing offenses, but I think Hawaii just has too much talent for the Lobos to deal with.
There might be a nervy moment for two, but I expect Hawaii to win comfortably. Give me Hawaii 41, New Mexico 17.