Saturday’s 63-3 loss to Michigan doesn’t do much to define the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The only thing it made certain was that UH won’t be competing for a spot in the College Football Playoff this year.
That’s hardly news.
Traveling to Ann Arbor to take on one of the country’s best teams after returning from Australia had disaster written all over it. The final score barely mattered, other than shining a light upon just how large the gap has grown between UH and college football’s elite.
The ‘Bows were unable to capitalize on an early Michigan turnover and everything snowballed from there. The defense was gouged for big runs all day as the Wolverines averaged just under 8 yards per carry. The battle in the trenches was completely one-sided with the Hawaii run-game becoming non-existent.
After a brutal start, Ikaika Woolsey settled in during the second quarter and made some good throws. He didn’t get to put together much of a day because Nick Rolovich decided to let Dru Brown handle the quarterback duties after the score was out of reach at halftime.
That decision shouldn’t be seen as a significant one, though Brown did provide a nice spark for a few series. Woolsey will be the starter when the team opens at home against UT Martin on Saturday.
Quarterback play wasn’t the reason Hawaii got blown out. The reason was simply the inability to compete at the line of scrimmage. The ‘Bows couldn’t run and couldn’t stop the run or get to the quarterback. It resulted in short possessions for the offense and not one single stop on third down for the defense.
Despite giving up 114 points in the first two games, there are still things about which to be optimistic. Sure, you have to look a little deeper, but they are there.
There’s an increased sense of camaraderie this year. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly it comes from, but the team has a little more bounce to it than last season. Maybe it’s the attitude brought about by Rolovich, maybe it’s the high-profile nature of its first two games. Whatever it is, I don’t see this team getting down on itself after these two losses.
With its schedule, Hawaii was supposed to start off 0-2. Now the story line should change a bit as Hawaii becomes the favorite for a week. It should be a chance to return to what was successful in the opener against Cal, which was the ground game from Diocemy Saint Juste and lots of accurate strikes from Woolsey.
But the defense has just been pounded and needs a game to gain confidence. If it can put together four strong quarters against UT Martin and pick up the team’s first win, it will at least give the ‘Bows an idea of what they should be able to do once conference play begins.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.