HONOLULU — For a second consecutive week, Hawai’i will face one of the premier teams in the Mountain West Conference when they host the undefeated Nevada Wolfpack.
Last weekend, the Rainbow Warriors fell to the defending Mountain Western champion Boise State Broncos 40-32, but the score wasn’t as close as it appeared.
Moving in slow motion
For the last several weeks, Rainbow Warriors’ coach Todd Graham has emphasized to the team they must get off to a fast start, and that hasn’t happened.
Against New Mexico, Hawai’i trailed 20-3 before re-establishing the momentum to mount a comeback culminating in a 39-33 victory over the Lobos.
The following week against San Diego State, Hawai’i didn’t score until the third quarter, and that was on a Matt Shipley field goal trailing 28-3.
With the Aztecs’ offense, which predicates itself on the run game, having a 28-point lead playing in the team’s favor and their size advantage, the Rainbow Warriors were able to traverse in a 34-10 loss.
Shoring up special teams play
Against Boise State, the narrative continued.
All week, in preparation for the Broncos, Graham emphasized to not kick the ball to kick return specialist Avery Williams, who has become one of the top-tier kick returners in the conference, and the NCAA.
The Rainbow Warriors didn’t follow Graham’s instructions, and Williams reaped the benefits of the team kicking to him.
Broncos’ kickoff and punt return specialist Avery Williams totaled 192 return yards, including a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 8:18 left in the third quarter to give his team a 26-9 lead.
“Williams’ kickoff return for a touchdown was the difference in the game,” Graham said in his post-game Zoom press conference last Saturday. “All week we emphasized stopping No. 26, but for whatever reason, we couldn’t get it done tonight.”
The Cream of the crop
The University of Hawai’i will not have any choice but to get off to a fast start against former San Fransisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s alma mater.
The Wolf Pack, currently 5-0 and looking to capture their first Mountain West title, and has done so in a convincing fashion.
They aren’t just an elite team in the conference, they generated 23 points in the top-25 NCAA Division I Associated Press polls.
The undefeated record marks the eighth time in the program’s history that they’ve begun the season winning its first five games, and it’s the longest winning streak since 2012.
The Rainbow Warriors have struggled against defending the pass throughout the season, and they will have to shore up their pass-defense against Wolf Pack’s Junior WR Romeo Doubs.
Doubs is quickly becoming one of the nation’s highly regarded receivers, and standing at 6 foot, 2-inches and 201 pounds, he could potentially be a candidate to play in the NFL.
Doubs currently is averaging 155.6 yards per game, which leads the entire FBS. According to an article published by NevadaSportsNet.com, Doubs is following in the footsteps of former Detroit Lions’ RB Barry Sanders, he lets his game do the talking.
“He has all the ability of any superstar wide receiver without any of the diva-ness,” WR coach Eric Scott said.
Offensive versatility a must
Hawai’i isn’t without offensive weapons themselves, and their versatile QB Chevan Cordeiro and RB Calvin Turner will have to play a significant role in the team’s offense if they are to pull off upsetting Nevada.
Cordeiro set new career highs in completions (33), attempts (43), yards (410) and touchdowns (4) in UH’s win over New Mexico.
Cordeiro led Hawai‘i to three late-game comeback victories in his career including two as a true freshman against Wyoming and UNLV.
They will need Cordeiro to elevate the team’s performance.
The Rainbow Warriors are in the middle of a three-game stretch that includes three undefeated conference teams with a combined record of 13-0 in Mountain West play (4-0 Boise State, 5-0 Nevada and 4-0 San José State).
When: Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020
Time: 6 p.m. HT
Where: Honolulu, O‘ahu
Stadium: Aloha Stadium
Television: Spectrum Sports PPV (Spectrum Ch. 255/HD 1255 and
Hawaiian Telcom Ch. 969). Robert Kekaula (play-by-play) and Rich
Radio: ESPN Honolulu (1420AM/92.7FM). Bobby Curran (play-byplay) and John Veneri (analyst). KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai‘i Island),
and KTOH-HD3 (Kaua‘i). Chris Hart and Gary Dickman hosts the
“Countdown To Kickoff” at 4 p.m.
Video Streaming: Only available outside the state of Hawai‘i through
the Team1Sports app.
Audio Streaming: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawaii app
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.