The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are the first ones diving into the water as they kick off the 2018 college football season this weekend. The ‘Bows head to the Mainland — which is probably ideal for them with Hurricane Lane headed our way — to take on the Rams of Colorado State on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. HT.
It’s the very first FBS matchup of the season, so UH gets a bit of time to themselves in the spotlight. What they do with that opportunity is still very much up in the air, as little has been settled regarding the many questions still facing this young club.
Hawaii strolls in as a 14-point underdog and seeking some revenge for a contest that ended up much worse than that margin a year ago. Colorado State came into Aloha Stadium last September and throttled the ‘Bows, 51-21. Quarterback Nick Stevens had no trouble dissecting the UH secondary as he went 18-22 for 351 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
But with Stevens graduating, the Rams turn to Washington transfer K.J. Carta-Samuels to lead their air attack. Carta-Samuels didn’t see much action while at Washington, but he’ll have every opportunity to hold onto this job. The graduate student had initially announced his plans to transfer to UCLA and hopefully take over for Josh Rosen, but he changed his mind and enrolled instead at CSU.
While he’s still something of an unknown quantity as a full-time starter, the Rams’ quarterback situation seems like a well-oiled machine compared to Hawaii’s. Head coach Nick Rolovich said this past weekend that he expects his three quarterbacks — Cole McDonald, Chevan Cordeiro and Jeremy Moussa — to all see time under center this season. Whether that means rotating series throughout games or just going with the hot hand week to week is still unclear. All three have different strengths and their collective youth makes this committee situation all the more unpredictable.
Rolovich was coy with the media on Monday, stating that his starting quarterback would have a one on his jersey. All three candidates have numbers starting with a one. Thanks, coach.
But he narrowed the field a bit on Tuesday, telling KHON that he now has Cordeiro and McDonald side by side for this week’s starting nod. That doesn’t mean Moussa won’t see the field at all, just that he won’t be out there for the first snap.
A coach entering his third season would certainly like to have his most important position feeling more secure than how this situation appears. The game plan will probably be fairly basic regardless of who is under center and much of the onus could fall upon Jahlani Tavai and the defense to keep Colorado State in check.
While most of the country waits another week to watch their teams open up the 2018 slate, UH will give us an early sneak peek as to what they have in store. Year in, year out, Colorado State is a solid program and typically has a strong home-field advantage. It’s a difficult environment for an inexperienced team, but it would mean that much more if they’re able to play well.
College football is here. It would be great if the power doesn’t go out so we can actually see it.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.