HAWAII @ UNLV
RWP - Rainbow Warriors Perspective
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada (Allegiant Stadium)
Date/Time: Friday, September 30th at 10:00 a.m. (Hawaii Time)
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV (Hawaii only)
Streaming: Team 1 Sports app (mainland only)
Radio: ESPN Honolulu
Head-to-Head: Hawaii leads this series 19-13 and has won three of the last four, including last year’s 31-25 victory that led to the Rebels making a coaching change in the off-season.
Spread: UH +10.5
Three things to look for:
1. Brumfield might return, maybe not
UNLV is 3-1 in Barry Odom’s debut season as the Rebels’ head coach, all despite dealing with a larger than anticipated injury bug. UNLV star quarterback Doug Brumfied has missed time recently while he deals with injuries to his ribs/hip. However, Paloma Villicana of Fox 5 Las Vegas reports that Barry Odom said Brumfield could return this week against the Warriors. Just Hawaii’s luck.
The 6’6” 225 lbs junior from Inglewood, California threw for 288 yards and rushed for 55 against Hawaii last season. Freshman Jayden Maiava, born in Honolulu, has performed well in Brumfield’s place. This will be an interesting situation to follow, Hawaii would be wise to prepare for both Brumfield and Maiava. Whoever plays, or if both play, Hawaii will be facing a more than capable quarterback.
2. Beware the Rebels runners
UNLV will walk into this game with the nation’s 39th-ranked rushing attack. We’ve already noted the rushing factor Brumfield and Maiava bring to the table. Coming off a 13 carry, 97 rushing yard performance in El Pasco, senior Vicent Davis Jr. leads this backfield. He’s joined in tandem with freshman Jai’Dean Thomas, who is taking the Mountain West by storm.
Thomas was voted Mountain West freshman of the week again, building a race with Hawaii’s Pofele Ashlock for the freshman of the year. Thomas has 234 total yards to his name to this point in the season. UNLV’s offense is loaded with talent. Will Hawaii’s 82nd-ranked rushing defense fold in this contest? Hawaii will need to carry over the defensive momentum from Saturday’s second half against New Mexico State into this game if they want to spring an upset.
3. The time is now for the run-and-shoot offense
Hawaii enters this contest ranking 41st-nationally in passing offense. A huge upgrade from last season, and admirable considering the competition the Warriors have played to this point. The 22.6 points per game, bad for 94th-nationally, not quite as admirable.
We’re five games into Hawaii’s 2023 season. The strength-of-schedule excuse for the 2-3 record is valid, but the 20 points Hawaii scored against NMSU were not encouraging. Hawaii has some quality young talent starting to emerge. Wide receiver Pofele Ashlock is special. Running back Jordan Johnson is starting to prove to be reliable. Where is Tylan Hines?!
A poor offensive line, whatever the drawbacks, the run-and-shoot offense needs to start scoring points. Defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro and his defense have improved, even if only slightly. The offense, however, is not cashing in.
If Hawaii wants to make an improbable run at bowl eligibility, they need to score points. That sounds elementary, but it’s the truth. 22.6 PPG will not suffice. If Hawaii is to beat the Rebels in the Raiders’ stadium, they’ll need more than 22 points.
At halftime of Saturday’s game against New Mexico State, the social media reactions from Hawaii fans told the story: things were bleak. I don’t know what Timmy Chang told his team at halftime, but the second half effort was inspired, especially on defense. Disaster was averted, but most issues remain the same.
Hawaii has one win in their last seven trips to the ninth island. The Golden Pineapple rarely comes home with Hawaii in this particular fixture. Hawaii fans will pack the building, they always do, but I need to see it to believe from this Hawaii team. Particularly the offense. Give me Rainbow Warriors 17, Rebels 31.