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1. Yes, 82nd
SMU was 5-7 and three tight losses from bowl eligibility. Middle Tennessee was 8-5, Louisiana-Lafayette 9-4. San Diego State, Arkansas State, Rutgers, UNLV, and Ohio all went bowling.
All of these teams ranked behind No. 82 Hawaii in last year's final F/+ rankings. Yes, the Hawaii that went 1-11.
My first response to this: That can't possibly be right, this is going to make our numbers look terrible. My second response: Well ... it actually kind of makes some sense.
Hawaii lost to USC by 17 points and held a reasonably decent offense to 4.9 yards per play. The Warriors lost by a semi-respectable 19 points at Oregon State. They lost by five to Fresno State. They lost by two points at UNLV and by seven to Colorado State. They lost by seven to San Diego State and three at Wyoming. In all, they went 1-5 in games decided by a touchdown or less and lost only three games by more than 14 points.
None of this makes Hawaii a good team, obviously, but the Warriors were still quite a bit better than their record would suggest. The offense had its moments in the second half of the season, and the defense was downright decent on average. Play the 2013 season again, and maybe Hawaii rides some luck to 5-7. Hawaii grew quite a bit last season after putting a total dud of a product on the field in 2012. You just couldn't tell it in the win column.
2. So what exactly does that mean?
In some alternate universe, Hawaii has a decent 2013 season. That's great. In this actual world, however, Norm Chow is now 4-20 in two years on the islands and finds himself on the hot seat to a certain degree. Hawaii was unsatisfied with former head coach Greg McMackin, but at least he won 29 games in four seasons. For Chow to reach that, he needs to go 12-2 and 13-1 over the next two years. He's dug himself a hole. He's perhaps made that hole a little larger with some recent issues with the media.
Norm Chow/Photo credit: Rob Carr
There really was growth last year, but as I wrote a few days ago, wins matter:
Wins keep a squad glued together. Players are less likely to transfer, the head coach is more likely to receive further support from administration, etc. And even if you're a little lucky or underwhelming while you're initially winning, wins build infrastructure and beget more wins.
Losses obviously do the opposite. No matter how much Hawaii has grown on paper, every successive loss brings about the possibility of collapse. The Warriors really need a good season and return quite a bit of the talent responsible for last year's growth. Can they get over the hump that teased them for most of last fall?
2013 Schedule & Results
|Record: 1-11 | Adj. Record: 4-8 | Final F/+ Rk: 82|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Adj. Score||Adj. W-L||5-gm Adj. Avg.|
|29-Aug||USC||11||13-30||L||9.7 - 25.2||L|
|7-Sep||at Oregon State||42||14-33||L||15.0 - 26.0||L|
|21-Sep||at Nevada||88||9-31||L||15.1 - 25.3||L|
|28-Sep||Fresno State||49||37-42||L||26.6 - 24.7||W|
|5-Oct||San Jose State||74||27-37||L||20.6 - 22.9||L||-7.4|
|12-Oct||at UNLV||96||37-39||L||28.8 - 27.7||W||-4.1|
|26-Oct||Colorado State||66||28-35||L||19.2 - 20.1||L||-2.1|
|2-Nov||at Utah State||32||10-47||L||26.9 - 34.7||L||-1.6|
|9-Nov||at Navy||58||28-42||L||32.8 - 30.4||W||-1.5|
|16-Nov||San Diego State||89||21-28||L||23.2 - 30.1||L||-2.5|
|23-Nov||at Wyoming||102||56-59||L||33.8 - 40.0||L||-3.9|
|30-Nov||Army||100||49-42||W||33.1 - 30.1||W||-3.1|
|Points Per Game||27.4||72||38.8||116|
|Adj. Points Per Game||23.7||100||28.1||69|
3. The average Hawaii game changed midway through the season
In the June Jones and McMackin eras, we got used to shootouts. From 2001-07, Hawaii played in 31 games in which both teams scored at least 30 points. The Warriors were a ridiculous 25-6 in such games, as well. Points and yards were the Hawaii m.o., for better or worse, and that continued to at least a small degree when McMackin took over in 2008. Hawaii played in two such games each year from 2008-11. They won the first three but dropped the next five ... which is perhaps part of the reason why McMackin isn't still Hawaii's head coach (other factors didn't help, of course.)
Meet the Bag Man
Meet the Bag Man
There wasn't a single shootout in 2012, primarily because Hawaii couldn't score. Only twice (once against FBS teams) did the Warriors put more than 27 points on the board. And in the early stages of 2013, the trend continued as Hawaii scored 36 points combined against USC, Oregon State, and Nevada.
But Hawaii games began to look like Hawaii games again as the season progressed.
Adj. Points Per Game (first 3 games): Opponent 25.5, Hawaii 13.3 (minus-12.2)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Opponent 23.9, Hawaii 23.8 (minus-0.1)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 5 games): Opponent 33.1, Hawaii 30.0 (minus-3.1)
Hawaii's offense was never great, but it was above average more frequently after the start of the season. The Warriors averaged 5.5 yards per play against San Jose State, 6.2 against UNLV, 5.8 against Navy, 6.8 against Wyoming, and 7.1 against Army. Of course, the defense began to leak as the season went on as well; SJSU averaged 5.9 yards per play, Utah State averaged 6.2, Navy averaged 6.4, SDSU went for 6.8, and Wyoming got 8.1. The yards and points added up on both sides of the ball, and using the "both sides score 30" definition, Hawaii ended up in four shootouts in the last nine games of the year (and each of the last two).
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||39.5%||88||Succ. Rt. +||89.9||95|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||30.8||90||Def. FP+||97.4||84|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||3.9||91||Redzone S&P+||77.7||116|
|Q1 Rk||80||1st Down Rk||75|
|Q2 Rk||89||2nd Down Rk||103|
|Q3 Rk||115||3rd Down Rk||115|
Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Taylor Graham||6'5, 235||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||46||100||462||2||5||46.0%||12||10.7%||3.5|
|Jeremy Higgins (2012)||6'1, 200||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||29||48||335||1||1||60.4%||5||9.4%||5.6|
|Ikaika Woolsey||6'1, 210||So.||2 stars||11||29||143||0||3||37.9%||5||14.7%||3.3|
4. One last go-round for Taylor Graham
According to Rivals.com, four-star Illinois quarterback Taylor Graham committed to Jim Tressel and Ohio State on June 23, 2009. He was to be Terrelle Pryor's successor in Columbus. Five years later, his career will end in Honolulu. And it might end with him on the bench. He was beaten out by the younger Braxton Miller and transferred to play for Norm Chow, and he had an absolutely dreadful junior season. You know how Hawaii's offense picked up after the first three games? Graham started the first three games before getting replaced by Sean Schroeder. Schroeder's passer rating last year: 145.2. Graham's: 81.4.
Graham gets one last college try, but after offseason shoulder surgery, he has watched mobile sophomore Ikaika Woolsey take most of the first-string snaps. Graham, Woolsey, and Jeremy Higgins will continue their battle to replace Schroeder throughout the summer. Woolsey was even less efficient with his arm than Graham last year but does bring some running ability to the table.
|Joey Iosefa||RB||6'0, 245||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||126||590||5||4.7||3.2||41.3%|
|Steven Lakalaka||RB||5'10, 240||So.||3 stars (5.7)||113||468||4||4.1||3.2||32.7%|
|Diocemy Saint Juste||RB||5'8, 180||So.||2 stars (5.4)||50||214||0||4.3||5.9||34.0%|
|Ikaika Woolsey||QB||6'1, 210||So.||2 stars||21||103||0||4.9||8.9||23.8%|
|Aofaga Wily||RB||5'11, 215||So.||2 stars (5.2)||12||23||0||1.9||1.8||8.3%|
|Taylor Graham||QB||6'5, 235||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||9||35||0||3.9||1.8||66.7%|
|D.J. Riggins||RB||5'10, 175||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Scott Harding||WR||5'11, 200||Sr.||NR||88||56||631||63.6%||18.1%||58.1%||7.2||-51||7.1||63.5|
|Vasquez Haynes||WR||6'2, 215||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||46||29||354||63.0%||9.5%||45.0%||7.7||-1||8.9||35.6|
|Billy Ray Stutzmann||WR||45||22||355||48.9%||9.3%||62.5%||7.9||46||7.5||35.7|
|Marcus Kemp||WR||6'4, 185||So.||2 stars (5.3)||28||11||110||39.3%||5.8%||57.9%||3.9||-66||2.4||11.1|
|Keith Kirkwood||WR||6'3, 210||So.||2 stars (5.2)||27||12||250||44.4%||5.6%||45.0%||9.3||72||8.8||25.2|
|Donnie King Jr.||WR||5'7, 155||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||22||11||118||50.0%||4.5%||55.6%||5.4||-35||5.8||11.9|
|Steven Lakalaka||RB||5'10, 240||So.||3 stars (5.7)||15||13||93||86.7%||3.1%||55.6%||6.2||-44||5.8||9.4|
|Harold Moleni||TE||6'2, 245||Jr.||2 stars (4.9)||13||7||71||53.8%||2.7%||53.8%||5.5||-22||5.4||7.1|
|Samson Anguay||WR||5'7, 170||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||4||3||18||75.0%||0.8%||50.0%||4.5||-16||4.6||1.8|
|Jordan Pu`u-Robinson||TE||6'4, 255||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||3||2||19||66.7%||0.6%||0.0%||6.3||-5||4.2||1.9|
|Josh Long||TE||6'4, 240||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Quinton Pedroza (Utah)||WR||6'2, 220||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)|
|Ammon Barker||WR||6'4, 215||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)|
|Darrian Josey||WR||6'0, 170||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Mack Richards||WR||5'10, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)|
5. The "all" in "all or nothing" is gone
Hawaii had five different players with at least one 40-yard catch and nine with at least one 30-yarder. But of the seven players with at least 13 catches last fall, only two averaged better than 12.2 yards per catch (Chris Gant and Billy Ray Stutzmann) and both are gone. The passing game was more explosive than efficient in 2013, but it might have to lean on efficiency unless a new threat steps forward. Keith Kirkwood is an interesting prospect (he averaged 20.8 yards per catch as a freshman, albeit with a 44 percent catch rate), and Utah transfer Quinton Pedroza joins the mix, which could help. But Hawaii will need to stretch the field with its passing game to make room for a reasonably efficient run game, and there are no guarantees of that happening.
The run game does appear to be in pretty good shape, though. Hawaii is pass-first, but with a pretty experienced line blocking for 18th-year senior Joey Iosefa (okay, it just feels like he's been there 18 years) and a thunder-and-lightning duo of sophomores (big Steven Lakalaka and quick Diocemy Saint Juste), the Warriors might want to lean on the run a bit more this fall. It could pay off, especially if Woolsey ends up winning the starting quarterback job.
|Ben Clarke||C||6'3, 285||Jr.||2 stars||25|
|Dave Lefotu||RG||6'3, 305||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||21|
|Kody Afusia||LG||6'2, 310||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||15|
|Sean Shigematsu||RG||6'5, 290||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||15|
|Frank Loyd Jr.||RT||6'3, 285||Sr.||NR||8|
|David Griffin||RT||6'6, 315||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||2|
|Leo Koloamatangi||LT||6'5, 275||So.||NR||0|
|Brenden Urban||C||6'1, 295||Jr.||NR||0|
|Kory Rasmussen (Colorado)||OL||6'2, 270||So.||2 stars (5.4)|
|John Wa'a||OL||6'4, 310||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Elijah Tupai||OL||6'4, 265||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
6. The line should do its part
Hawaii's line was able to clear the way pretty well in short-yardage situations (having huge backs in the backfield didn't hurt) and was at least competent overall in run blocking. Pass blocking, meanwhile, was dependent on the quarterback. With Sean Schroeder behind center, the sack rates were tolerable; with anybody else, things fell apart pretty quickly.
With four line starters returning and six returnees with starting experience (86 career starts), it does appear that Hawaii should expect improvement up front. Hawaii could be starting as many as four seniors, however, so that could be problematic for 2015.
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||42.8%||68||Succ. Rt. +||103.1||47|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||31.0||49||Off. FP+||102.5||32|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Trip in 40||4.7||103||Redzone S&P+||101.9||49|
|Q1 Rk||63||1st Down Rk||28|
|Q2 Rk||62||2nd Down Rk||76|
|Q3 Rk||64||3rd Down Rk||102|
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Beau Yap||DE||6'2, 260||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||12||32.5||4.1%||12.0||5.5||0||1||2||0|
|Marcus Malepeai||DE||6'1, 275||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||12||29.0||3.7%||2.5||2.0||0||0||0||0|
|Moses Samia||NT||6'1, 300||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||9||25.5||3.2%||6.5||0.0||0||3||0||0|
|Calen Friel||DT||6'2, 320||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||8||7.5||1.0%||1.0||0.0||0||1||0||0|
|Kennedy Tulimasealii||DT||6'1, 280||So.||3 stars (5.6)||9||7.5||1.0%||2.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Niko Uti||DE||6'2, 255||Sr.||NR||5||4.5||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Luke Shawley||DE||6'2, 250||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)|
7. The front four, er, three should hold up
It really was a "tale of two seasons" situation for Hawaii's defense in 2013. For most of the first half of the year, the Warriors' defense was average at worst, but things fell apart late in the season.
For 2013 as a whole, Hawaii graded out pretty well. The Warriors were particularly good when it came to efficient run support. The Warriors sliced into the backfield with regularity against run and pass, and the line was deep with play-makers.
Change is afoot, however. Former Utah State assistant Kevin Clune takes over as defensive coordinator, and he will attempt to implement the 3-4 defense that has been wonderfully effective for Utah State in recent years. Really, anything you can do to imitate what USU has done on defense recently is a good idea; the Aggies have shown spectacular improvement and maintained it after head coach Gary Andersen left for Wisconsin.
Attrition could hurt the defense -- of the top six linemen from last year, three are gone -- but as long as Beau Yap's on the field, Hawaii has at least one star. Yap might take over the new rush end/outside linebacker position within the 3-4 -- he'll be used in quite a few different ways, actually -- and if last season is any indication, he'll do just fine wherever he lines up. And in Moses Samia and Calen Friel, Hawaii has a couple of players big enough to handle the 3-4 nose position (often a problem in the shift to a 3-4), and generally speaking, the shift in alignment fits the personnel pretty well.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Jerrol Garcia-Williams||SAM||6'2, 215||Jr.||NR||12||56.0||7.1%||3.0||1.0||0||1||0||0|
|TJ Taimatuia||SAM||6'3, 250||Sr.||NR||11||29.5||3.7%||4.0||2.0||0||1||1||0|
|Tevita Lataimua||MIKE||5'10, 230||Sr.||2 stars (5.2)||10||19.0||2.4%||2.5||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Julian Gener||WILL||5'11, 235||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||3||12.5||1.6%||2.0||1.0||1||0||1||0|
|Lance Williams||SAM||6'0, 220||Jr.||2 stars||10||12.5||1.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Benetton Fonua||LB||6'0, 245||Jr.||2 stars||11||4.5||0.6%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jeremy Castro (UCLA)||LB||6'3, 240||So.||4 stars (5.8)|
|Simon Poti||LB||6'1, 235||Jr.||2 stars (5.2)|
|Rashaan Falemalu||LB||6'1, 210||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Malachi Mageo||LB||6'3, 190||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)|
8. Missing two missiles
Perhaps the biggest shame with Clune's hire is that it didn't come last year, when Brenden Daley and Art Laurel still had eligibility. The duo combined for 27.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, five break-ups (all from Laurel) and three forced fumbles (all by Daley) and might have teamed with Yap to form one of the best mid-major linebacking corps around.
Alas. Clune still inherits some potentially solid playmakers in Jerrol Garcia-Williams, T.J. Taimatula, Tevita Lataimua, and Lance Williams, and the returnees will be joined by UCLA transfer (and former four-star recruit), Jeremy Castro. And my faith in the Utah State system suggests this front seven will be pretty successful again regardless.
What about the secondary? Hard to say. Hawaii used its defensive backs pretty aggressively a year ago, with four logging at least two tackles for loss and six defensing (picking off or breaking up) at least four passes. But the Warriors also gave up a lot of big pass plays and gave them up with increasing frequency as the season progressed. The cornerback unit is experienced, but two active safeties -- John Hardy-Tuliau and Charles Clay (combined: 13 tackles for loss, 10 break-ups) -- are gone. In all, Hawaii is tasked with replacing perhaps four of its five best players on defense, and one has to figure that will make improvement difficult, even if Clune is a home run of a hire.
|Rivals||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Ne'Quan Phillips||CB||5'9, 185||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||12||55.0||7.0%||2||0||2||6||1||0|
|Dee Maggitt||CB||5'10, 170||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||12||43.5||5.5%||3.5||0||0||7||0||0|
|Marrell Jackson||FS||6'0, 185||Jr.||NR||9||30.0||3.8%||2||0||1||3||1||0|
|Trayvon Henderson||NB||6'0, 190||So.||2 stars (5.4)||11||24.0||3.0%||0||0||3||3||0||1|
|Kawika Borden||FS||6'1, 200||Sr.||NR||12||15.0||1.9%||0||0||0||0||2||0|
|Anthony Pierce||CB||5'9, 160||So.||2 stars||10||6.0||0.8%||0.5||0||0||0||0||0|
|Joshua Donovan||CB||6'0, 190||Jr.||NR||12||4.5||0.6%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Damien Packer||DB||5'11, 195||So.||NR||9||3.0||0.4%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Barry Higdon||DB||6'3, 190||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Keelan Ewaliko||DB||5'11, 175||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Keahi Hogan||DB||6'2, 175||Jr.||NR|
|Cesar Fermin||CB||5'10, 175||Jr.||NR|
|Jalen Rogers||CB||6'1, 185||So.||2 stars (5.2)|
|Daniel Lewis||S||5'11, 180||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Jerrell Jackson||CB||6'0, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)|
|Manly Williams||DB||6'2, 180||Fr.||2 stars (5.3)|
|Scott Harding||5'11, 200||Sr.||56||40.2||0||10||18||50.0%|
|Ruben Guzman||5'8, 190||Sr.||26||40.0||1||8||4||46.2%|
|Tyler Hadden||5'11, 180||Sr.||64||61.6||26||2||40.6%|
|Tyler Hadden||5'11, 180||Sr.||36-37||5-8||62.5%||2-5||40.0%|
|Diocemy Saint Juste||KR||5'8, 180||So.||14||25.1||0|
|Scott Harding||PR||5'11, 200||Sr.||21||8.3||0|
|Donnie King Jr.||PR||5'7, 155||Sr.||3||3.7||0|
|Special Teams F/+||47|
|Field Goal Efficiency||113|
|Punt Return Efficiency||48|
|Kick Return Efficiency||48|
|Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency||122|
9. A+ coverage
Hawaii's special teams unit certainly had some issues. Place-kicker Tyler Hadden was far too inaccurate on shorter kicks and the punt return game was decent but not spectacular. But Diocemy Saint Juste emerged as a potentially strong kick returner, and the best offensive weapon on the team may have been punter Scott Harding. Nearly one third of Harding's punts were downed inside the 20, and the coverage unit helped to make Hawaii's punt game one of the best in the country. Field position can swing games, and Hawaii was good at the field position game, at least better than its offense and defense alone would suggest. In Hawaii's case, though, field position was effective at getting Hawaii close ... but it certainly didn't swing games all the way in the Warriors' favor.
2014 Schedule & Projection Factors
|18-Oct||at San Diego State||83|
|8-Nov||at Colorado State||85|
|15-Nov||at San Jose State||82|
|29-Nov||at Fresno State||46|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||-11.8% (92)|
|Two-Year Recruiting Rk||103|
|TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin*||-10 / -7.5|
|Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.)||13 (7, 6)|
10. So what happens if Hawaii's 82nd again?
I was in no way high on the Norm Chow hire; I almost bored myself with the number of times I mentioned that Chow was an offensive guru who hadn't actually been in charge of a good offense in nearly a decade. I understood the hometown draw, but I wasn't a fan. That said, I'll defend the coaching job he did last year. Hawaii was far more sound and competent in going 1-11 last year than it was in going 3-9 the year before, and if the Warriors can keep it together long enough, they might begin to figure out how to win some close games this year.
If you win or lose enough, you eventually become your record, and for all we know, things might fall apart for the Warriors this year. But if they don't, if Hawaii can replicate last year's mid-80s ranking (far from certain considering the losses on both sides of the ball), there are wins on the schedule. Hawaii plays eight teams projected 80th or worse and get two teams projected in the 60s (Nevada, Utah State) at home. A normal team that ranks 82nd or so could probably win five to seven games against this schedule, and needless to say, that would represent a step up from the four Hawaii has won under Chow so far.
But can the Warriors keep it together after losing 20 of 24? And what happens if they get blown out by Washington and Oregon State? Numbers or no, Hawaii faces the burden of proof to show that last year's numbers were on to something.