HONOLULU — University of Hawai‘i redshirt sophomore wide receiver Nick Mardner has continued to cultivate a synergistic relationship with Rainbow Warriors’ signal-caller Chevan Cordeiro, and the wideout’s recent stat lines reflect the connection.
During the first two games of the season between Fresno State and Wyoming, Hawai‘i struggled to manufacture a consistent passing attack, relying mostly on their ground attack to generate points.
The Rainbow Warriors’ passing attack was anemic in the first two contests, as it didn’t result in a single passing touchdown in games between the Bulldogs and the Cowboys.
In the third game of the season, against New Mexico, the trend of relying on the ground game changed and translated to a more balanced offensive attack for the Warriors.
Against the Lobos, UH manufactured over 500 yards of total offense for the second time in three games, and the Warriors scored a season-high 39 points.
An aerial circus
Hawai‘i’s top-tier receiver Jared Smart has showcased that he is worthy of the preseason note of being on college football’s radar to win the Fred Biletnikoff Award, and he’s the clear-cut No. 1 receiver, but Mardner now compliments the team’s air attack.
Some would argue that Mardner’s game-winning touchdown reception against BYU last season (38-34) on Dec. 24 in the SoFi Hawai‘i Bowl was the freshman’s coming-out party.
Mardner admits during a Zoom interview he isn’t interested in talking about last season’s heroics, and he made a declarative statement by catching six balls for 147 yards and hauling in a touchdown in last Saturday’s victory over the Lobos.
Mardner attributes the success the Rainbow Warriors’ offensive attack had in the third game of the season to the commitment Cordeiro had to developing chemistry with his wideouts before the season began.
“We’ve been working together all summer since I came. We started staying in the dorms together, and Chev and I go way back,” Mardner said.
The perfect target
On paper, Mardner’s a quarterback’s dream.
When looking at his basic metrics on a roster, one thing stands out — his size.
At 6 foot, 6 inches tall, Mardner’s height can be used as a weapon in multiple situations, especially to exploit mismatches against smaller defensive backs.
Making Hawai‘i home
Mardner, a product from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, is still getting accustomed to the physical style of play at the Division I level.
Despite his size, Mardner is proving to be a deep threat and not just a possession receiver.
Last season, he had two catches, including one that went for a touchdown against Boise State.
The number of weapons Hawai‘i has added to the depth of their passing and running attack Mardner attributed to the team’s high-level of offensive production in the first three games.
“This is now more of his team swag. I think we have really good communication and he’s become more of a solid leader,” Mardner said of Cordeiro. “I see that happening every day, and we just keep getting better and better.”