RWP = Rainbow Warrior Perspective
The battle for the Pineapple Trophy may only be a few years old, but Hawaii and UNLV have been playing against each other in football for decades. Most of the contests go down to the wire, memorable football games. Hawaii entered the Las Vegas Raiders’ stadium as double-digit underdogs, but rarely has Hawaii been defeated comfortably by the Rebels.
On Saturday, Hawaii was gashed for 307 rushing yards on the ground by the Rebels’ rushing attack on the path to a 44-20 loss, Hawaii’s worst loss to the Rebels since 1974 when Hawaii lost 33-8. What went wrong in Vegas?
Hawaii finished the game with 6 penalties for 65 yards. With no context, that’s nothing noteworthy. Not ideal, but not terrible either. However, the nature of these penalties will have head coach Timmy Chang fuming. Far too often this season, Hawaii is getting stops on defense only to have a personal foul penalty breathe life into a dying drive.
Down 13-3 in the first half, the Rebels were gifted solid field position at the Hawaii 30-yard line. On first down, UNLV running back Vincent Davis Jr. rushed for 10 yards to the Hawaii 20. A face mask penalty adds an additional 10 yards. The next play? Another personal foul penalty, putting UNLV at the doorstep of the goal line.
If Hawaii wants to win games this year, or any year, these self-inflicted errors must stop.
The offensive line is in a dark place
Hawaii quarterback Brayden Schager finished the game 22/35 while throwing for 313 passing yards, two touchdown passes, and one interception. This might not seem like an overly impressive stat line, but it really is when you consider how often Schager was being jolted into the Allegiant Stadium turf.
Schager was sacked an astounding seven times, and those numbers aren’t including the times he was hurried or hit after the throw. This isn’t a revelation; the Hawaii offensive line has struggled all season. Schager won’t make it to the end of the season if this continues. Sure, there are times Schager needs to be more decisive with his passing, but that withstanding, the offensive line is playing very poorly right now.
The wide receivers are really good
No sugarcoating a blowout loss, but there was a point in the second half where I think things began to “click” for the Hawaii wide receivers. Steven McBride was sensational, catching six passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Alex Perry scored again and it starting to find a rhythm.
Nine different Warriors caught a pass in the game, and running back Tylan Hines returned from injury and was mostly effective in the run game, although Hawaii struggled there collectively.
There are flashes of something better on offense. Can they protect Brayden Schager long enough to find out? The schedule is appearing more daunting than expected.
If we’re keeping it real, Hawaii has struggled to stop opposing running games for a long time. Even during the June Jones days this was an issue. Still, it was discouraging to watch the UNLV Rebels, a team in year #1 of a brand-new coaching regime, punch Hawaii in the mouth like that. Total dominance. I was told Timmy Chang made the team stay and watch the Rebels take the Pineapple Trophy. Ouch.
Hawaii is reeling and banged up. The injury list continues to grow and the upcoming bye week could not have arrived at a better time.
Hawaii will have next week off, and then play San Diego State at Clarence T.C. Ching Complex on Saturday, October 14th at 5 p.m. HST.