2013 Hawaii football's 10 things to know: One cannot fall much further

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Norm Chow spent decades crafting a reputation for offensive genius, but it's been almost a decade since he was associated with a good college offense. Hawaii had the worst offense in the country last year, in fact, but can a new coordinator and a new blue-chip quarterback begin to turn things around for the Warriors? It can't get much worse after last year.

For more on Hawaii football, visit MWC community Mountain West Connection.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. Norm Chow still hasn't led a good offense since 2004

I felt bad. Aesthetically, Hawaii's hire of Norm Chow seemed just about perfect. One of college football's most celebrated assistants heading home to take the reins of a program that was neither far removed from success nor built sturdily for future success. It made perfect sense through that prism. But this celebrated offensive assistant hadn't been in charge of a celebrated offense for a while.

[H]e hasn't led a good offense since 2004. After he returned from three years with the Tennessee Titans, he took over a UCLA offense that had ranked 109th in Off. F/+ in 2007 and led offenses that ranked 114th, 88th and 90th. When he took the Utah offensive coordinator job in 2011, UCLA's offense improved to 66th. Meanwhile, he inherited an offense that ranked 62nd in 2010, and they ranked 95th last fall. He won his Broyles Award in 2002; who won in 2001? Randy Shannon. Things change.

So if you made a hire in part because of his reputation as an amazing assistant coach, and he hasn't been an amazing assistant for a while, is he still a no-brainer good hire? (Then again, I wasn't a fan of the James Franklin hire at Vanderbilt either. So what do I know?) One thing is certain: he's connecting with the community in a way that few coaches could. He will be given time and patience, and he has responded with some ambitious recruiting -- according to Rivals.com, Hawaii has offered two five-star prospects and eight four-star prospects from Hawaii to Maryland. We'll see if that pays off.

Now, in fairness, my criticism was a little bit short-sighted. Being a head coach requires a completely different skill set than being a good offensive assistant. A head coach is part-coach, part-politician, and part-guidance counselor. And while Chow's run of offensive success had stopped a while back, there was nothing saying he couldn't make up for that by acing the two latter parts of the job.

Also in fairness: In the first year, my criticism was also correct. From 2005-11, the era for which we have F/+ rankings, Hawaii never ranked lower than 103rd and ranked 43rd or higher three times. After plummeting from 43rd to 87th in 2011, the Warriors cratered all the way to 121st in 2012. Granted, a lot of that was probably going to happen no matter how good the coaching job might be -- Chow was engineering a pretty stark shift in offensive philosophy, and the defense was replacing a lot of starters -- but it still happened. The defense actually held rather steady (96th in Def. F/+ in 2011, 90th in 2012), but the offense was an outright horror show. In 2010, Greg McMackin's offense ranked 28th in Off. F/+; in 2011, it fell to 70th. In 2012, it was the worst offense in FBS, ranking 124th out of 124.

For a man once known as an offensive guru, this isn't a good look. Can some new blood in the offensive coordinator chair right the ship a bit? And with the personnel on hand, are we looking at part two of a two-year salvage job?

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 3-9 | Final F/+ Rk: 121
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep at USC 10-49 L 16.3 - 30.9 L
16-Sep Lamar 54-2 W 15.8 - 13.2 W
22-Sep Nevada 24-69 L 21.6 - 37.0 L
28-Sep at BYU 0-47 L 13.2 - 42.7 L
6-Oct at San Diego State 14-52 L 14.4 - 25.6 L
13-Oct New Mexico 23-35 L 19.5 - 32.4 L
27-Oct at Colorado State 27-42 L 16.7 - 32.0 L
3-Nov at Fresno State 10-45 L 21.6 - 24.8 L
10-Nov Boise State 14-49 L 18.1 - 24.9 L
16-Nov at Air Force 7-21 L 4.4 - 25.3 L
25-Nov UNLV 48-10 W 15.5 - 10.3 W
1-Dec South Alabama 23-7 W 27.9 - 13.4 W
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 21.2 102 35.7 106
Adj. Points Per Game 17.1 123 26.0 45

2. One unit came around

Through two months of the season, there was almost nothing redeeming about Hawaii's level of play. The offense was terrible, and the defense was below average. The Warriors lost by 45 at home to Nevada and by an average of 41.3 points in road games against USC, BYU, and San Diego State. Those were all bowl teams, obviously, but when the schedule eased up, Hawaii didn't really fare any better, losing by 12 and 15 points, respectively, to New Mexico and Colorado State. More good teams (Fresno State and Boise State) meant more 35-point losses.

There were few redeeming aspects to Hawaii's play in 2012, but one cannot deny that the defense raised its game down the stretch.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 7 games): Opponent 30.5, Hawaii 16.8 (minus-13.7)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 5 games): Opponent 19.7, Hawaii 17.5 (minus-2.2)

In the five final games of the season, Hawaii's defense improved to good, then better-than-good. Despite the gaudy point totals, the Warriors' defense held up about as well as a decent defense should against Fresno State and Boise State, allowing 5.9 yards per play in these two games and falling victim to a complete and total lack of offensive support. The Warriors held a decent Air Force offense under five yards per play, then totally dominated two bad offenses; UNLV and South Alabama combined to gain just 369 yards, 2.8 per play, and score 17 points.

There is enough experience returning to think that Hawaii can maintain this late improvement to some degree. But how much will this matter if the offense doesn't start picking up some of the slack?

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 121 122 122 122
RUSHING 114 120 120 113
PASSING 101 122 117 122
Standard Downs 120 120 116
Passing Downs 124 121 124
Redzone 122 124 122
Q1 Rk 122 1st Down Rk 122
Q2 Rk 115 2nd Down Rk 121
Q3 Rk 124 3rd Down Rk 122
Q4 Rk 104

3. I honestly can't find one nice thing to say about this offense

In terms of the advanced per-play measures above, Hawaii's best rankings were as follows: Fourth Quarter S&P+ (104th, benefiting from the fact that opponents' scrubs were often playing in the fourth quarter of blowouts), Rushing PPP+ (113th), Second Quarter S&P+ (115th), and Standard Downs PPP+ (116th). Or, to put it another way, in the 25 advanced categories above, Hawaii didn't rank in the nation's bottom 10 in two.

Egregious. Absurd. Odious. Abhorrent. Ghastly. Pick your favorite fun word for awful, and Hawaii's offense was that. Chow and offensive coordinator Tommy Lee tried to do their quarterback, Sean Schroeder, some favors by throwing more on standard downs and running more on passing downs, and he responded with a 51 percent completion rate, a nearly 10 percent sack rate, and more interceptions than touchdowns. And while running back Will Gregory showed a little bit of big-play potential, three other running backs, who combined for more than 18 carries per game, combined to average 3.6 yards per carry. The line oculdn't do favors for the backs, the receivers couldn't do favors for the quarterbacks ... nothing worked. Nothing at all. And the one thing that almost worked (Gregory) has graduated.

4. It gets younger, at least

After more than four decades in football, Lee announced his retirement following the season. Another local guy and longtime friend of Chow, Lee got to finish his career close to home, but he didn't get to finish it with much success.

Chow replaced him with Aaron Price, the son of (and former offensive coordinator for) retired UTEP head coach Mike Price. UTEP's offense was hit-or-miss with Price in charge, but a) there were some hits (51st in Off. F/+ in 2009, 63rd in 2011), and b) he is three decades younger than Lee, and this position needs as much youthful energy as possible to revive last year's [pick your adjective] offense. If Price brings any major changes to the table, it will potentially be in the form of leaning more heavily on the run. But with a pretty new quarterback to test drive, maybe he won't do that.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Sean Schroeder 6'3, 200 Sr. NR 175 344 1,878 50.9% 11 12 35 9.2% 4.3
Jeremy Higgins 6'1, 200 Jr. ** (5.2) 29 48 335 60.4% 1 1 5 9.4% 5.6
Taylor Graham 6'5, 235 Jr. **** (5.8)







Ikaika Woolsey 6'1, 215 RSFr. **







5. A QB-friendly approach only works if you have a QB

Again, Chow and Lee tried their best to give Schroeder as many easy passes as possible, but it didn't really work out for anybody involved. Schroeder, a Duke transfer who transferred in 2012 and was eligible immediately, had almost nothing to work with in the receiving corps and responded with ... nothing. And he seemed to almost play worse against lesser defenses. Against New Mexico and Colorado State, he was 39-for-88 (44%) for 472 yards, two touchdowns and three picks. In wins over UNLV and South Alabama, he was 23-for-45 (51%) for 332 yards, two scores, and two picks. He was 0-for-5 against Air Force. It was a tough, tough year.

Now, entering his senior season, Schroeder is having to fight it out just to remain on the two-deep, as Ohio State transfer, and former four-star recruit, Taylor Graham will likely be Hawaii's starter in 2013. Check that: There's "no question" that he's the starter. He is an old school, statuesque, pocket passer with presence and a hand cannon. While we don't know precisely how good he may be -- he never saw the field in Columbus -- it probably doesn't take much of a leap to assume he alone upgrades Hawaii's talent level a good amount.

6. Will Graham matter?

In Taylor Graham, Norm Chow now has a little bit of talent around which to build. But that will only matter if Graham can find actual receivers to whom he can throw, if he has a line that can protect him, and if he has a running game that can keep him out of persistent second- or third-and-longs. He's got running back Joey Iosefa, whose size is intriguing and who can pinball around between the tackles pretty well. He's got Billy Ray Stutzmann, Hawaii's leading receiver from the last two years; Stutzmann doesn't have nearly the explosiveness to counter his poor catch rates, but if an NFL caliber quarterback is throwing him the ball, maybe he raises those rates a bit. (And no, we don't know yet whether Graham is "NFL caliber.") He's got Aussie Scott Harding, who actually had a better catch rate than Stutzmann (barely) and averaged more than 15 yards per catch. But perhaps most importantly, he's got some newcomers, too. Three junior college transfers join the receiving corps, as do intriguing freshmen running backs Steven Lakalaka and Diocemy St. Juste.

(Meanwhile, does he have a line? Probably not.)

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Will Gregory RB 137 691 5.0 5.5 3 +2.4
Joey Iosefa RB 6'0, 240 Jr. ** (5.2) 125 463 3.7 4.0 1 -22.0
Sterling Jackson RB 52 175 3.4 2.6 2 -10.8
John Lister RB 41 149 3.6 2.7 4 -6.1
Sean Schroeder QB 6'3, 200 Sr. NR 19 75 3.9 3.3 1 -2.5
Steven Lakalaka RB 5'10, 225 RSFr. *** (5.7)





Diocemy St. Juste RB 5'9, 190 Fr. ** (5.4)





Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Billy Ray Stutzmann WR-Z 6'0, 185 Sr. *** (5.5) 70 35 447 50.0% 6.4 19.1% 52.9% 6.4 52.0
Jeremiah Ostrowski WR 53 27 270 50.9% 5.1 14.5% 45.3% 5.4 31.4
Chris Gant WR-X 6'0, 185 Sr. ** (5.4) 39 22 232 56.4% 5.9 10.7% 56.4% 5.8 27.0
Scott Harding WR-Z 5'11, 195 Jr. NR 38 20 308 52.6% 8.1 10.4% 47.4% 8.4 35.8
Ryan Hall TE 32 20 168 62.5% 5.3 8.7% 59.4% 5.2 19.5
Trevor Davis WR 6'1, 175 Jr. *** (5.5) 28 17 235 60.7% 8.4 7.7% 67.9% 8.0 27.3
Joey Iosefa RB 6'0, 240 Jr. ** (5.2) 25 19 153 76.0% 6.1 6.8% 56.0% 6.1 17.8
John Lister RB 22 14 137 63.6% 6.2 6.0% 45.5% 5.9 15.9
Clark Evans TE 6'4, 245 Sr. *** (5.5) 19 9 137 47.4% 7.2 5.2% 47.4% 6.4 15.9
Darius Bright WR-X 15 7 91 46.7% 6.1 4.1% 53.3% 6.2 10.6
Bubba Poueu-Luna WR 5'11, 180 Jr. *** (5.5) 0 0 0 0.0% 0.0 0.0% 0.0% 0.0 0.0
Craig Cofer TE 6'4, 255 Sr. ** (5.2) 5 3 17 60.0% 3.4 1.4% 80.0% 2.6 2.0
Terrance Polk WR 5'11, 180 Jr. *** (5.5)








Josh Long TE 6'4, 240 Jr. ** (5.4)








Vasquez Haynes WR 6'2, 190 Jr. ** (5.3)








Ammon Barker WR 6'4, 210 Fr. *** (5.5)








Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 82.6 2.58 2.51 30.7% 64.5% 20.8% 73.1 4.8% 11.0%
Rank 116 108 110 121 84 92 102 65 113
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
David Lefotu RG 6'3, 305 Jr. ** (5.2) 18 career starts
Blake Muir LT 12 career starts
Ben Clarke C 6'3, 275 So. ** 12 career starts
Mike Milovale RT 6'3, 310 Sr. ** (5.4) 9 career starts
Sean Shigematsu RT 6'5, 290 Jr. ** (5.2) 7 career starts
Chauncy Winchester-Makainai LG 6'4, 320 Sr. NR 4 career starts
Kapua Sai LT 3 career starts
Kody Afusia LG 6'2, 305 Jr. ** (5.2) 2 career starts
Jordan Loeffler LT 6'5, 305 Jr. ** (5.2)
Ben Dew OL 6'3, 305 So. ** (5.2)
Kiha Sai OL 6'3, 315 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Ethan Watanabe OL 6'2, 275 RSFr. ** (5.4)
Elijah Tupai OL 6'4, 255 Fr. ** (5.4)
John Wa'a OL 6'4, 285 Fr. ** (5.4)

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 41 93 94 94
RUSHING 88 98 108 86
PASSING 11 90 47 102
Standard Downs 103 109 99
Passing Downs 58 29 74
Redzone 114 117 98
Q1 Rk 101 1st Down Rk 56
Q2 Rk 66 2nd Down Rk 44
Q3 Rk 34 3rd Down Rk 92
Q4 Rk 34

7. The defense was honestly pretty decent

Granted, the Hawaii defense looked spectacular compared to its offense last year, but there really was some honest-to-God improvement late in the year, and enough pieces return to think that might continue. The Warriors were pretty exciting (and glitchy) up front, making a healthy number of plays behind the line of scrimmage against both the run and pass (80 tackles for loss, 28 sacks). Granted, they made a lot of these plays in the second half, when a given game was out of reach; and granted, they had some serious issues in both the redzone and the first quarter. But the pass defense was quite efficient, and if they leveraged you into passing downs, they new how to close out the drive.

8. Lights out on passing downs

There were some big plays allowed along the way, but Hawaii did a lovely job of shutting things down on passing downs. The Warriors were 19th in the country in Passing Downs Sack Rate; seven different Warriors had at least two sacks; defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer brought an aggressive reputation to the table, and he inherited some nicely aggressive pieces here.

Of course, he must now replace a couple of the nicest aggressive pieces -- end Paipai Falemalu and corner Mike Edwards, to name two -- but end Beau Yap and pass rush specialist Tavita Woodard return, four junior college transfers enter the rotation, and Hawaii returns one of the Mountain West's better sets of linebackers.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 99.6 3.27 2.92 40.9% 68.4% 20.9% 108.0 5.0% 9.4%
Rank 62 105 36 86 67 38 49 49 19
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Paipai Falemalu DE 12 46.5 6.9% 10 5 0 1 1 2
Beau Yap DE 6'2, 260 Jr. *** (5.5) 12 29.5 4.4% 10.5 3 0 0 1 0
Tavita Woodard DE 6'4, 255 Sr. ** (5.2) 12 29.5 4.4% 5.5 5.5 1 2 0 0
Haku Correa NT 12 26.5 3.9% 3.5 2.5 0 0 0 0
Siasau Matagiese DT 6'2, 300 Sr. ** (4.9) 11 15.5 2.3% 2 0 0 0 0 1
Marcus Malepeai DT 6'1, 250 Jr. ** (5.3) 10 9.5 1.4% 1.5 0.5 0 0 1 0
Ho'oikaika Cavaco-Amoy DE 6'2, 255 Sr. NR 6 3.5 0.5% 2 0 0 0 0 0
Kaeo Alo NT 7 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Geordon Hanohano DT 4 2.5 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Moses Samia NT 6'1, 305 So. ** (5.2) 2 0.5 0.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
David Moala DT 6'2, 315 Jr. ** (5.3)

Kennedy Tulimasealii DT 6'1, 300 Fr. *** (5.6)

Ualesi Sale DE 6'1, 245 Fr. ** (5.4)






Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Art Laurel WILL 6'0, 235 Sr. ** (4.9) 11 42.0 6.3% 13.5 4 0 1 1 0
Kamalani Alo LB 6'2, 215 Sr. ** (4.9) 12 32.0 4.8% 0.5 0.5 0 0 2 0
T.J. Taimatuia SAM 6'3, 245 Jr. NR 12 28.5 4.2% 2.5 0 0 2 0 0
Jerrol Garcia-Williams SAM 6'3, 205 So. NR 11 27.5 4.1% 3 1 0 0 0 1
Kendrick Van Ackeren LB 12 21.0 3.1% 0.5 0 0 2 0 0
Lance Williams WILL 6'2, 220 So. ** 12 20.5 3.1% 1 0 0 0 0 1
Brenden Daley MIKE 6'3, 255 Sr. NR 10 20.0 3.0% 1.5 0 1 0 0 0
Benetton Fonua MIKE 6'1, 220 So. ** 8 14.0 2.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
George Daily-Lyles LB 5'11, 255 Sr. ** (5.3) 7 11.5 1.7% 1.5 0.5 0 1 0 0
Darryl McBride, Jr. LB 11 11.0 1.6% 2.5 2.5 0 0 1 0
Dylan McCagg LB 10 3.0 0.4% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Rykin Enos LB 12 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tevita Lataimua LB 5'11, 230 Jr. ** (5.2)

Darzil Washington LB 6'2, 240 So. ** (5.2)






9. You can build around these linebackers

Hawaii played a lot of linebackers in 2012 -- seven had at least 20 tackles, 10 had at least 11 -- and most of them return in 2013. In Laurel, Kaumeyer has a lovely blitz option, but beyond that, he's just got a lot of options, period. He's got speed options in Kamalani Alo and Jerrol Garcia-Williams; he's got power options in T.J. Taimatula and Brendan Daley. Kaumeyer enjoys crafting an aggressive defense, and between the depth at linebacker, increased size up front (especially if former Arizona State tackle David Moala is ready to go), and experience in the secondary, he should enjoy pressing buttons with this defense.

(Moala, by the way, has a spectacular bio: volleyball player in high school, brother in the NFL, Fresh Prince of Bel-Ai.)

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Marrell Jackson FS 6'0, 180 So. NR 12 48.0 7.1% 1 0 0 5 2 1
Mike Edwards CB 12 40.5 6.0% 5 0 2 15 1 0
John Hardy-Tuliau SS 5'11, 180 Sr. ** (5.2) 12 36.0 5.4% 3 1 3 3 0 0
Charles Clay SS 5'11, 200 Sr. NR 12 24.5 3.6% 0 0 0 4 0 1
Leroy Lutu DB 8 23.0 3.4% 1.5 0 0 2 0 0
Ne'Quan Phillips CB 5'9, 180 So. ** (5.4) 12 21.5 3.2% 2 0 2 2 0 1
Tony Grimes CB 6'0, 175 Sr. *** (5.7) 11 20.5 3.1% 1 0 0 5 0 0
Dee Maggitt CB 5'8, 170 Jr. ** (5.4) 10 11.0 1.6% 0.5 0 0 3 0 0
Mike Sellers FS 10 10.5 1.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dante Johnson S 6'1, 185 So. NR

Ryan Pasoquen DB 6'0, 190 RSFr. NR

Tigi Hill DB 6'2, 215 So. *** (5.5)

Trayvon Henderson DB 6'1, 195 Fr. ** (5.4)

Barry Higdon DB 6'3, 180 Fr. ** (5.4)






Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Alex Dunnachie 49 46.2 5 11 12 46.9%
Scott Harding 5'11, 195 Jr. 15 34.7 1 1 2 20.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Tyler Hadden 5'11, 180 Jr. 52 61.1 9 17.3%
Kyle Nilro 2 58.5 0 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Tyler Hadden 5'11, 180 Jr. 29-29 7-10 70.0% 6-11 54.5
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Mike Edwards KR 40 30.4 3
Will Gregory KR 5 9.2 0
Scott Harding KR 5'11, 195 Jr. 4 18.0 0
Scott Harding PR 5'11, 195 Jr. 23 12.8 1
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 29
Net Punting 74
Net Kickoffs 99
Touchback Pct 112
Field Goal Pct 101
Kick Returns Avg 8
Punt Returns Avg 16

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
29-Aug USC 17
7-Sep at Oregon State 25
21-Sep at Nevada 74
28-Sep Fresno State 60
5-Oct San Jose State 72
12-Oct at UNLV 110
26-Oct Colorado State 117
2-Nov at Utah State 46
9-Nov at Navy 95
16-Nov San Diego State 53
23-Nov at Wyoming 109
30-Nov Army 103
Five-Year F/+ Rk 99
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 100
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -14 / -0.5
TO Luck/Game -5.6
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 15 (7, 8)
Yds/Pt Margin** +3.6

10. A glimmer of hope? Maybe?

Taylor Graham is an exciting specimen. Of this, there is little doubt. But it is difficult to build too much optimism in this offense considering just how [adjective] it was last year. If Graham can immediately show big-time potential, and if a couple of newcomers can spruce up the skill position ranks a bit, then Hawaii's offense will improve to a decent degree, but that might just mean a rise to 100th or so in Off. F/+.

Still ... that's improvement. And combined with a defense that could be legitimately decent, that could be enough to win some games. Hawaii plays five teams projected 95th or worse (only two at home), but improvement on offense could still lead to improvement in the win column, say, to 4-5 games or so. Like so many other rebuilding MWC programs, bowl eligibility seems like a bit of a stretch, but Norm Chow can at least take a step or two toward proving me wrong in 2013. I'm not incredibly optimistic, but in Graham and the defense, there's a smidgen of hope.

For more on Hawai'i football, visit MWC community Mountain West Connection.

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