Should I just copy and paste the Vanderbilt recap? Hawaii took to Clarence T.C. Ching Complex looking to shake off the negative vibes from last week’s 63-10 loss to Vanderbilt. Instead, Saturday evening’s contest against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers was déjà vu for the Rainbow Warriors.
Quarterback Joey Yellen was given the start for the Warriors, but the Hawaii offense sputtered in the early goings of the game. The defense appeared improved in the first quarter, Hawaii holding a 3-0 lead going into the second quarter, but much like last week it was a brief mirage. Joey Yellen threw an interception on 3rd-and-19 from the WKU 47 and from there Brayden Schager took over, but only after Western Kentucky quarterback Austin Reed threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dalvin Smith to give the Hilltoppers a lead they would ultimately not relinquish.
On Schager’s first possession of the game, disaster struck when WKU’s Juwuan Jones jumped a screen pass and returned it 38-yards for the touchdown. Just like that, a decent start abruptly turns into a 14-3 deficit.
Schager initially responded well, leading a 9-play 75-yard drive that was capped off by Cammon Cooper, the third-string quarterback, running the option to Dedrick Parson for the touchdown.
Hawaii had some momentum as halftime neared, but much like last week it seems like Hawaii has enough defensive juice to hold the fort down for the first 1.5 quarters, but eventually the walls begin to crumble. Hilltopper quarterback Austin Reed picked the Warrior defense apart, leading to a 47-yard strike to Joshua Simon for the touchdown.
On the ensuing possession, Schager threw another interception. He would finish the game with four interceptions, Hawaii’s quarterback crisis still very much a problem.
Much like last week, there isn’t much reason to deep dive the second half. The Warriors collapsed again coming out of the halftime break, a concerning trend building. Western Kentucky’s offense moved at will, while also being aided by the Hilltopper defense forcing six turnovers on the evening.
We’re only two games into the season, but that’s back-to-back contests that featured similar themes. A decent start is derailed by turnovers from the offense, leaving a feeling that the halftime score flatters the visiting side. All doubt is removed in the second half when Hawaii is simply blown away. Two games in a row, same script.
I won’t be too harsh on the defense. Yes, 49 points and 412 yards conceded isn’t pretty, but what can you expect when the offense gives the ball away six times?
Things are bleak for Hawaii football at the moment. On paper, Hawaii appeared to be a young, inexperienced coaching staff trying to lead a roster that was decimated by the transfer portal. Football isn’t played on paper, but sometimes the tea leaves are correct. To be frank, Hawaii might only win 1-3 games this season. Timmy Chang and his staff will need to recruit well and work the transfer portal to plug the holes in this leaking ship. It’s not going to happen overnight. Keep the faith, Warriors fans. Better days ahead, but the path forward will be difficult.
Hawaii will play #8 Michigan this upcoming Saturday on the Big Ten Network.