College football is a sport beloved by many, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors fans are no exception. Love hurts sometimes.
After the off-season started with off-the-field Todd Graham drama, local hero Timmy Chang returned home to reinstitute the #BRADDAHOOD and bring glory back to Hawaii football.
That dream, even if hard to see right now, remains alive. That said, it’s undeniable that Hawaii football has embarked on a long-term rebuild, and it started with a shock beat down loss to Vanderbilt.
The atmosphere at Clarence T.C. Ching Complex was buzzing to begin the evening, and it carried over to the team. Quarterback Brayden Schager started the game and helped lead the offense to an 8-play, 75-yard touchdown drive capped off by running back Dedrick Parson scoring from 37-yards out. The energy was palpable.
On the ensuing drive, Hawaii forced the Vanderbilt offense to punt. The Warriors were buzzing, Vanderbilt’s body language giving off “here we go again” vibes. In that moment, I’m not sure if anyone in the building, or watching the game on television would believe the final score would be Vanderbilt 63, Hawaii 10. The Commodores’ highest scoring output of the 2021 season was 30 points, and it came against hapless UConn. Vanderbilt hadn’t scored 63 points since 1969. What happened tonight was a complete shock to the system for UH fans.
Late in the first quarter, Hawaii conceded a touchdown to Vanderbilt on an 8-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Vanderbilt’s Will Sheppard caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Wright. On the play, Hawaii attempted to substitute defenders and, in the mix up, left Sheppard uncovered. Turns out, that was foreshadowing of the sloppy play that would ensue the rest of the game.
On the next drive, Dedrick Parson would have the ball popped out of his hands and into the air, and Vanderbilt’s Anfernee Orji caught the ball and scored an easy touchdown. The air of optimism was immediately sucked out of the stadium.
The Warriors offense responded well with a field goal on the next drive to close the gap to 14-10. From there, Vanderbilt’s Mike Wright started to show off his arm and led the Commodores into Hawaii territory. On 4th-and-6 from the Hawaii 9, Wright threw a pass that went through the hands of one player and landed into the clutches of wide receiver Jayden McGowan. First down. To this point, it felt as if Hawaii was simply hard done. Bad luck. Vandy would score and lead 21-10 at half, Hawaii feeling as if the scoreboard wasn’t indicative of how the half transpired.
Typically, I’d run through most of the drives in a postgame recap. I think I’m correct in assuming Hawaii fans aren’t itching to relive the events of this game. The second half was a complete disaster in every way imaginable. Vanderbilt scored an outrageous 35 points in the third quarter. Hawaii was a mess. Couldn’t tackle, couldn’t line up correctly, dropping passes. You name it. Quarterback Joey Yellen took over in the second half to mixed results. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was effective, to be honest. Vanderbilt exploited Hawaii’s defensive weaknesses flawlessly. Vandy’s offense rushed for an astounding 404 yards on the ground. Mike Wright can run, folks.
The Commodores won the game 63-10, Clark Lea has frequently mocked Vanderbilt football in the right direction.
Few positives: freshmen Jordan Johnson and Jalen Walthall look like promising players. That’s...all I’ve got.
There isn’t much I can say to make Hawaii readers feel better. This was an outright shocking result akin to the 2012 69-24 loss to Nevada in Norm Chow’s first season, where one could tell something was wrong. This was a result outside of the imagination. Could the Vegas gurus be right about the 9.5-point spread? Sure, but an apocalyptic beat down?! Unthinkable.
Needless to say, the Timmy Chang era is off to a terrible start. One game cannot be indicative of everything that is to come, but this is undoubtedly a concerning debut. The #BRADDAHOOD is going to be tested this fall.
Hawaii stays home to face Western Kentucky on Saturday, September 3rd.