clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Hawai’i Bowl preview & perspectives

Career closeout, championship mindsets, ESPN, the NFL

Date/Time: Saturday, December 23, 2023 - 7:30 PM PDT

Location: Clarence T.C. Ching Complex on the University of Hawai’i campus on Oahu

Broadcast: ESPN

Radio: 860 KTRB AM

Head-to-Head: This will be the first Hawai’i Bowl appearance and first matchup for San Jose State (7-5, 6-2 MW) and Coastal Carolina (7-5, 5-3 Sun Belt). Spartan head coach Brent Brennan is 0-2 in bowl games. First-year Chanticleers’ head coach Tim Beck is leading his first bowl game. The Spartans are currently 10-point favorites.

When San Jose State arrived on the islands on Monday, they were home.

“This is one of the best stories of the bowl season and it’s a special thing for all of us to experience it one last time with this team with all the special people there,” said Brennan at a final practice in San Jose.

It is Brennan’s umpteenth time to the islands in a football capacity. Brennan started his coaching career with Hawai’i in 1998 and has alway been immersed in the Polynesian culture with past and current players.

It is fitting and perhaps with some pressure that his Spartans first Hawai’i Bowl appearance that Brennan gets his first bowl game win.

“The fans here really like Brent,” said longtime ESPN Honolulu broadcaster Gary Dickman. “Obviously being cousins with the late Colt Brennan and Brent wearing his jersey at the press conference really impressed a lot of people.”

But more fitting that Hawaiian-born QB Chevan Cordeiro, who left Hawai’i and rediscovered his purpose with Brennan and SJSU, can bookend a storybook college career at home.

“When Chevan first left, it was different because it wasn’t about getting playing time since he was already a starter or maybe it was for NIL money, we thought,” said Dickman. “But the vast majority here understood why he was leaving and weren’t upset.”

Dickman added, “Unfortunately, it was the total disaster with Todd Graham. Our fans weren’t blaming Chevan for leaving.”

Cordeiro said from a final practice last week in San Jose, “I never thought I’d leave the islands at all, but now, I want to work here and do my thing in San Jose. It’s a real blessing.”

Just two months earlier, Mountain West first-team quarterback Cordeiro and company demolished Hawai’i 35-0 in a much anticipated return that was a year in the making. This surprise return on Saturday is less than a month old and locals are basking in it.

“Chev was really well-received when he came back a couple months ago,” added Dickman. “The fans were hoping it was going to be San Jose State coming here for the bowl game, because of Chevan. We’re all still fond of him and we always wish him the best.”

Cordeiro added, “I’m just grateful and blessed to have the career I had at Hawai’i and San Jose and to finish in front of family. It really means a lot.”

Preparing for the “Chants” of Coastal Carolina

“This is a good football team we’re playing,” stated Brennan. “You try to do everything you can to be prepared, but they’ve also had extra time to prepare as well. We’ll do everything we can to prepare, because you never really know.”

The transfer portal effects have diminished the Chanticleers. The Chants lost two quarterbacks to the portal; leaving 6’3” 220 lb. freshman Ethan Vasko, who is capable. Also losing their top running back CJ Beasley and leading linebacker and tackler JT Killen certainly doesn’t help their chances.

San Jose lost six to the portal. The two key losses are among the thick of the offense. 6’5” 315 lb. OL Fernando Carmona (signed with the Arkansas Razorbacks) and 6’4” 252 lb. TE Dominick Mazotti. How this may effect the Spartans will or may show in the running game that has shined bright this season led by first-teamer Kairee Robinson’s 1,127 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Still, SJS knows better than to discount anything in front of them.

“It’s been a great couple weeks with all the work we’re putting in,” said Brennan. “It’s an incredible blessing to manage everything from practice, bowl prep, classes, and recruiting and to be playing in December.”

The real question: If the Spartans continue with the ferocity and momentum from their six game winning streak, can they finish strong?

The Chants have proven to have a formidable system that can replace their pieces; considering former star QB Grayson McCall hasn’t played since October and 6’4” 220 lb. WR and NFL prospect Sam Pinckney was very productive with 64 receptions, 904 yards and seven touchdowns. Pinckney also holds the NCAA record with 57 straight games with at least one catch.

The simple keys

For Coastal Carolina, if they experience an early Spartan onslaught, expect them to adjust and respond. If so, they’ve also shown to be tough to stop.

For San Jose State, don’t let off the gas pedal, especially, if the Spartans start fast. Though they’ve been favored in each of the previous two bowl game losses, can they show the program maturity and the season trend to close out strong.

The special intangibles should also favor the Spartans considering this will be a home crowd for Cordeiro and the Spartans. The Hawai’i fans need and want this win as much as San Jose, as it’s been a tough season for the Rainbow Warriors.

Cordeiro closeout

“As of right now, I don’t have any real emotions probably not until I land in Hawai’i and when that last whistle blows knowing that’s the last game as a Spartan,” said Cordeiro. “I know it’s going to hit me and I’m going to be emotional.”

Expect a prototypical Cordeiro game of efficiency, accuracy, stamina, speed, footwork and more. All the basic signs of a quarterback with the body of work ready to be molded into an NFL player.

“When I asked him about the next level, Chev said he was hoping to get a chance in the NFL somewhere,” stated Dickman. “If not, he mentioned he was hoping to stay in the Bay Area to start his life.”

“I would think he’s at least going to get an opportunity. I would be shocked if he didn’t,” said Dickman. “Probably on the third day of the draft I’d say. His biggest knock is his size, which I don’t agree, but you hear it so often.”

This writer would tend to agree as well that Cordeiro will get a chance considering NFL scouts also have to up their game, as the NFL is more abound with late round wonders.

Physically, it’s always the question of the finicky beholders, but inside is the immeasurable difference and Cordeiro has certainly and clearly shown a championship mindset that has been ingrained at a young age and only continues to grow.

“All I need is someone to take a chance on me, like I’ve done every time, whether it was high school, Hawai’i, San Jose,” said Cordeiro. “I love to work hard and prove people wrong and I’m ready to do that again. All I need is a shot.”

Case in point with the bowl game at hand Saturday.

“I’m going to stick to the game plan and play my game,” said Cordeiro with the trust and confidence of his playmakers and coaches.

*Always free premium-level content and perspectives on SJSU on the MWC