HAWAII VS. WYOMING
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii (Clarence T.C. Ching Complex)
Date/Time: Saturday, October 29th at 6:00 p.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV
Streaming: The Team1Sports app is the route for mainlanders.
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: Wyoming leads the Paniolo Trophy series 15-11. The Pokes won six straight in the series from 1993 to 2013, but the teams have rotated victories since. An ominous trend for the Warriors considering that Hawaii won last year’s contest in Laramie, a surprising 38-14 blowout of the Cowboys. Unknowingly Chevan Cordeiro’s last game as a Warrior. Finally, Wyoming is traveling to Oahu after the Warriors strangely played in Laramie back-to-back seasons (2020-2021).
Three things to look for:
1. Reality sets in, where to from here?
The writing was on the wall last January. Head coach Todd Graham chased off many of Hawaii football’s key players. Chevan Cordeiro, Darius Muasau, Khoury Bethley, the list goes on. Hawaii fans hoped new head coach Timmy Chang would fill the gaps with transfer portal additions, but reasonable onlookers knew that completely offsetting the personnel losses was unlikely.
Vanderbilt was humbling, maybe the most humbling loss in program history. Western Kentucky wasn’t much better. Even in the win against Duquesne, the offense was horrible. There was growing fear this season could conclude with a Von Appen-like final record.
Coming out of the bye, Hawaii showed some promise in pushing San Diego State to the whistle and then beating Nevada by 15 points. Could Hawaii make a late sprint to a bowl game (6-7 has gotten the job done in recent years)?
Colorado State essentially snuffed out that possibility. Hawaii will be kicking themselves for that loss. Next up: surging Wyoming. Fresno State, UNLV, San Jose State still on the schedule. The #BRADDAHOOD will be tested in the coming weeks. This is officially a rebuilding season, but what type of rebuilding season? I think 5-8 would feel much better than 2-11.
2. Beware of Titus Swen
In last week’s Three things to look for, Prediction, I warned that while Colorado State’s offense is terrible, Hawaii’s defense needs to wrap up and tackle running back Avery Morrow or else watch him run wild. Well, he ran wild.
This week will not be any easier. In fact, it’ll be even tougher. Wyoming ranks 52nd nationally in rushing offense. Through 8 games, quarterback Andrew Peasley has rushed for 263 yards. Hawaii will need to be wary of Peasley taking off.
The star of this offense is undoubtedly running back Titus Swen. The junior has 665 rushing yards this season. Wyoming does have some depth with running backs Dawaiian McNelly and D.Q. James, but Wyoming’s fortunes rest on the shoulders of Swen most games.
It’s the same deal as last week for Hawaii. Tackle Swen, or watch Wyoming control this game.
3. Is the offense just bad?
The biggest disappointment in Ft. Collins was the offense, particularly in the second half. Quarterback Brayden Schager was 14-20 for 141 passing yards and one touchdown pass in the first half. Hawaii led 13-3 at the break. No, the offense has not at any moment this season looked explosive on the scoreboard, but the return of wide receivers like Zion Bowens had the offense pointed in the right direction. Schager appeared to have turned a corner.
...and then the offense completely fell apart in the second half against Colorado State. 38 yards the entire half.
Colorado State’s defense ranked 91st in total defense prior to the Hawaii game. Wyoming is tied for 56th overall entering this contest. As always, Craig Bohl’s defense is stingy.
This isn’t a shot at Timmy Chang or his offensive staff. This admittedly isn’t the most talented Hawaii offense ever. Still, with the schedule poised to heat up again in difficulty, the Warriors offense must start to build some consistency and score points if this team wants to finish with more than 2 wins this season. A Wyoming defense led by star linebacker Easton Gibbs (Wyoming always has an NFL-bound LB somewhere on the roster) is not what the doctor ordered.
Hawaii has breached 30+ points once all season. Dedrick Parson always runs hard, and he’ll do so again on Saturday, but Schager and the passing game need to take pressure off of #31. Slice and dice it all you like, the offense just needs to be better than this.
Hawaii opened as a 10-point underdog on Draft Kings for this weekend’s fight for the Paniolo Trophy. There hasn’t been much movement on the line one way or another.
This is a typical Craig Bohl Wyoming Cowboys football team. Strong, swarming defense with a reliable running game that’s propelled by a really good offensive line. The Pokes, much like Hawaii, were hammered by the transfer portal in the winter. The difference: Craig Bohl and his staff have had years to create a culture of development. Next man up. Hawaii’s isn’t there yet.
Last weekend’s game against hapless Colorado State was an undeniable setback, but the Warriors are back on home turf this week. They’ll be hoping the Pokes catch some island fever, but Hawaii’s offense will need to be on-point to win this football game.
I expect more inconsistency. Give me Warriors 16, Cowboys 27.