clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Hawaii football travels to Australia, Michigan and Arizona within 2016's first 22 days

New, comments

Three games far from home against Power 5 opponents in the season's first four weeks? That's hard, but Hawaii's used to things being hard.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Taking on a hard job

Hard jobs remain hard. I repeat it so much during this preview series (example 1example 2) that it becomes a mantra. Budgets, history, and recruiting bases assure difficulty remains high and margin for error remains low for certain jobs in college football, perhaps more than in any other sport.

At UL-Monroe, you have to make a great hire to be good. But at Alabama, you only have to make a good hire to be great. (And if you make a great hire, you can become transcendent.)

Hawaii is a hard job, not only because of those things, but also because of pure geography. You have to travel absurd distances to recruit or even to play against other teams.

To make money, you have to agree to games with nice payouts, and that leaves you open to impossible arrangements, like playing Cal in Australia the Saturday after school starts, then at Michigan the next, with a trip to play Arizona right after your first home game.

Because of the growing money chasm in FBS, a job like Hawaii is not only tough, but getting tougher. Granted, the state and university still have quite a few things going for them, but this is an uncertain time.

The Rainbow Warriors have had quite a few runs of success. Dick Tomey finished .500 or better for seven of eight seasons in the 1970s and 1980s, Bob Wagner went 18-6-1 in 1988-89 and 11-2 in 1992, and June Jones engineered five seasons with nine-plus wins between 2001-07. But after reaching seven bowls in nine seasons under Jones and successor Greg McMackin, Hawaii has reached only one in the last seven. McMackin won only seven games per season from 2008-11, which felt disappointing, but since he left, the Warriors have averaged three.

It could be worse. After dumping Norm Chow, Hawaii could have found someone less uniquely qualified than Nick Rolovich.

His résumé reads like that of someone being groomed for the Hawaii job. In 2001, as a senior at UH, Rolovich threw for 3,361 yards and 34 touchdowns and finished 10th in the country in pass efficiency and fourth in total offense. In 2003-04, he was a student assistant for the Rainbow Warriors. In 2008-09, he returned to serve as quarterbacks coach, and in 2010-11, he took over as offensive coordinator.

When Chow came back to the islands, Rolovich left. He spent the last four seasons as Nevada's offensive coordinator, first under Chris Ault, then under Brian Polian. He came up as a passer, then spent time with Ault, one of football's best run innovators.

At 36, Rolovich is one of FBS' youngest head coaches, but what he lacks in volume of experience, he makes up for with relevant experience. As a player, low-level assistant, and offensive coordinator, he's been exposed to what it takes to win at Hawaii.

Knowing what the job entails and being up for it are two different things. Nevada's offense slipped in each of Rolovich's four years in, which is a red flag. But he's hired a young, hungry staff of assistants to bring energy to a program that needs it, both metaphorically and literally -- his team will have already flown about 10,000 miles this fall by the time it plays its first home game.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 3-10 | Adj. Record: 2-11 | Final F/+ Rk: 120 | Final S&P+ Rk: 118
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
3-Sep Colorado 94 28-20 W 62% 80% +12.0 +15.5
12-Sep at Ohio State 3 0-38 L 10% 0% +9.0 +2.0
19-Sep UC Davis N/A 47-27 W 46% 90% +7.1
26-Sep at Wisconsin 32 0-28 L 11% 0% +3.4 -3.5
3-Oct at Boise State 37 0-55 L 1% 0% -36.1 -30.5
10-Oct San Diego State 43 14-28 L 24% 2% -14.0 -17.0
17-Oct at New Mexico 99 27-28 L 61% 74% -2.5 +5.0
24-Oct at Nevada 97 20-30 L 48% 51% +0.4 -3.0
31-Oct Air Force 63 7-58 L 1% 0% -41.9 -44.0
7-Nov at UNLV 105 21-41 L 20% 15% -12.3 -10.0
14-Nov Fresno State 103 14-42 L 7% 1% -30.8 -32.5
21-Nov San Jose State 89 23-42 L 8% 0% -13.8 -9.0
28-Nov UL-Monroe 121 28-26 W 46% 72% -3.7 +2.0

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 17.8 119 34.0 99
Points Per Game 17.6 118 35.6 105

2. An empty tank

You can talk yourself into Hawaii improving this year. [...] Unfortunately, the early schedule is miserable. By Oct. 4, Hawaii will have played on the road against three teams that ranked 25th or better in F/+ last year. If the Warriors don't beat Colorado in the opener, they're staring at a 1-4 start when San Diego State visits on Oct. 10.

If this snowballs, Chow could be gone by the time lesser teams begin showing up.

There was danger in Hawaii's 2015 schedule. The Rainbow Warriors brought decent experience and faced quite a few teams destined for the lower end of the S&P+ rankings. And they actually didn't ply that poorly out of the gates. They upset Colorado, performed well compared to expectations against Ohio State and Wisconsin, and put away UC Davis with ease.

But the hurdles were too much. After a loss to Wisconsin, UH got smoked by Boise State. And after three competitive results -- a home loss to conference champ SDSU and road losses by a combined 11 points to two bowl teams (New Mexico, Nevada) -- the bottom dropped out.

  • First 8 games
    Avg. percentile performance: 33% | Avg. score: Opp 32, UH 17 | Avg. performance vs. S&P+ projection: -2.6 PPG
  • Next 4 games
    Avg. percentile performance: 9% | Avg. score: Opp 46, UH 16 | Avg. performance vs. S&P+ projection: -24.7 PPG

Through eight games, Hawaii had laid only one real egg. But starting on Halloween, there were four straight. Chow was let go after the Air Force loss, and interim head coach Chris Naeole (the offensive line coach, retained by Rolovich) couldn't stem the tide. The Rainbow Warriors were out of gas, especially on defense, where they were suddenly allowing 14 more points per game.

There was a nice rally in the home finale against ULM (another hard job), when Hawaii jumped out to a 21-3 lead in the first half. Chow finished with a 10-36 record, and Naeole moved back to OL coach with a 1-3 lifetime record.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.22 84 IsoPPP+ 81.5 116
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 35.4% 117 Succ. Rt. + 89.2 109
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 32.0 110 Def. FP+ 30.6 90
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.3 76 Redzone S&P+ 98.0 80
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 34.3 ACTUAL 34 -0.3
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 121 116 109 116
RUSHING 116 109 105 108
PASSING 98 112 106 115
Standard Downs 117 109 118
Passing Downs 106 104 105
Q1 Rk 122 1st Down Rk 116
Q2 Rk 113 2nd Down Rk 121
Q3 Rk 63 3rd Down Rk 103
Q4 Rk 114

3. A Rolovich offense?

It's hard to know what defines one at this point.

He came up in the run-and-shoot system, then spent the last four years running the option at the home of the pistol formation. He's never been nearly as interested in pace as a lot of other up-and-comers, but he's been involved in significantly run-heavy and pass-heavy offenses.

Rolovich's initial coordinator hire hinted at an attempt to move back toward the former, but former EWU coordinator Zak Hill was only on the job for a couple of months before getting plucked away by Boise State. While he has not yet announced a new hire, coming after Hill suggests Rolovich's preference is to throw the ball.

He inherits a set of personnel that showed big-play potential but was lacking terribly in efficiency. Returning quarterback Ikaika Woolsey completed only 49 percent, and that was better than leader Max Wittek. Leading receiver Marcus Kemp averaged 15.6 yards per catch but caught only 46 percent of his passes. Experience is a plus -- Woolsey, Kemp, and last year's top two running backs are all seniors -- but at first glance, this doesn't appear to be experienced, efficient personnel.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Max Wittek 128 271 1542 7 15 47.2% 22 7.5% 4.8
Ikaika Woolsey 6'1, 215 Sr. 2 stars 0.7444 73 149 908 5 6 49.0% 9 5.7% 5.3
Beau Reilly 6'6, 190 So. 2 stars 0.7593
Cole McDonald 6'4, 195 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8056
Davine Tullis 6'2, 195 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7683

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Paul Harris RB 5'11, 190 Sr. NR 0.8000 197 1132 6 5.7 6.1 39.1% 2 2
Diocemy Saint Juste
(2014)
RB 5'8, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8256 73 372 3 5.1 5.9 37.0% 3 1
Melvin Davis RB 6'2, 235 Sr. NR 0.7900 59 218 6 3.7 2.4 33.9% 2 2
Steven Lakalaka RB 5'10, 210 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8578 48 187 0 3.9 2.5 31.3% 1 0
Ikaika Woolsey QB 6'1, 215 Sr. 2 stars 0.7444 38 150 2 3.9 2.0 42.1% 2 0
Ryan Tuiasoa RB 5'11, 210 Jr. NR NR 18 79 0 4.4 4.9 33.3% 2 1
Max Wittek QB 16 59 1 3.7 6.1 31.3% 6 3
Justin Vele FB 4 8 0 2.0 0.0 0.0% 0 0
Freddie Holly RB 6'0, 210 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8509
Max Hendrie ATH 6'4, 235 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.8300







4. Big-play potential

With the return of Diocemy Saint Juste from a 2015 injury, Hawaii brings back two explosive rushers. In Saint Juste's absence, Paul Harris had a nice year. Granted, a nice chunk of his season yardage came from the UC Davis game (10 carries, 147 yards), but he finished strong. In the last four games, while almost everybody else was struggling, he rushed 101 times for 661 yards (6.5) and three touchdowns while catching seven passes for 51 yards.

Harris gained at least five yards on just 39 percent of his carries, and at 5'11, 190 pounds, he's not going to be a major power presence. But he can scoot when he has some daylight.

Kemp can be a vertical threat. In two seasons, he's caught 92 passes for 1,360 yards (14.8), and he was a difference-maker at times. In Hawaii's three wins, he caught a combined 14 passes for 279 yards (19.9) and two touchdowns. The problem: his catch rate was horrendous, and in Hawaii's 10 losses, he caught just 22 passes for 284 yards (12.9).

Rolovich secured the signatures of a few exciting skill position threats in February: high-three-star running back Freddie Holly, mid-three-star receiver Kalakaua Timoteo, and, most interestingly, Australian rugby player Max Hendrie. Add them in with other youngsters (sophomore receivers Dylan Collie and Devan Stubblefield), and you've got the makings of a solid supporting cast for whoever wins the quarterback job.

But there's not a proven efficiency weapon to be found. Not a single returning running back had even a 40 percent opportunity rate last year, and not a single returning wide receiver had a 60 percent catch rate. This will be a hit-and-miss offense.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Marcus Kemp WR 6'4, 200 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7819 79 36 563 45.6% 19.9% 7.1 60.8% 39.2% 1.65
Devan Stubblefield WR 6'0, 190 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7333 67 30 351 44.8% 16.9% 5.2 58.2% 31.3% 1.60
Dylan Collie WR 5'10, 175 So. 3 stars NR 53 29 342 54.7% 13.4% 6.5 66.0% 49.1% 1.12
Isaiah Bernard WR 6'1, 190 Sr. NR NR 45 21 219 46.7% 11.3% 4.9 53.3% 31.1% 1.32
Quinton Pedroza WR 40 23 294 57.5% 10.1% 7.4 52.5% 47.5% 1.04
Metuisela `Unga TE 6'5, 240 Jr. NR NR 25 11 170 44.0% 6.3% 6.8 60.0% 36.0% 1.55
Makoa Camanse-Stevens WR 6'4, 205 Sr. NR NR 22 13 191 59.1% 5.5% 8.7 59.1% 45.5% 1.78
Dakota Torres TE 6'2, 245 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7719 21 11 98 52.4% 5.3% 4.7 42.9% 38.1% 1.13
Paul Harris RB 5'11, 190 Sr. NR 0.8000 17 14 151 82.4% 4.3% 8.9 52.9% 35.3% 2.21
Vasquez Haynes WR 6'2, 210 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8122 7 1 2 14.3% 1.8% 0.3 28.6% 0.0% 0.00
Steven Lakalaka RB 5'10, 210 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8578 6 4 14 66.7% 1.5% 2.3 33.3% 16.7% 1.48
Melvin Davis RB 6'2, 235 Sr. NR 0.7900 5 3 52 60.0% 1.3% 10.4 60.0% 20.0% 4.22
Harold Moleni TE 3 3 31 100.0% 0.8% 10.3 33.3% 66.7% 1.54
Davasyia Hagger TE 6'6, 230 Jr. NR NR 3 1 13 33.3% 0.8% 4.3 33.3% 33.3% 0.85
Ammon Barker WR 6'4, 205 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8210
Keelan Ewaliko WR 5'11, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7905
Marcus Armstrong-Brown WR 6'3, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7000
Kalakaua Timoteo WR 6'3, 195 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8422

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 100.1 3.09 2.46 36.2% 66.7% 18.8% 92.2 6.4% 7.9%
Rank 72 33 114 98 58 53 74 94 79
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Ben Clarke LT 13 50
Dejon Allen RG 6'3, 290 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8472 13 24
Elijah Tupai LG 6'4, 300 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8150 11 14
RJ Hollis RT 6'4, 295 Sr. NR NR 13 13
Asotui Eli C 6'4, 295 So. NR NR 12 12
Brenden Urban C 1 7
Leo Koloamatangi LT 6'5, 290 Sr. NR 0.7733 1 4
John Wa'a LG 6'4, 315 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7832 1 3
Matt Norman OL 6'5, 260 Jr. NR 0.7000 0 0
Luke Clements OL 6'5, 300 Jr. NR NR 0 0
J.R. Hensley OL 6'5, 310 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7833

Austin Webb OL 6'8, 310 RSFr. NR NR

Fred Ulu-Perry OL 6'2, 305 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.9318

Josh Hauani'o OL 6'4, 300 Fr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8000


5. The line will be a (relative) strength

Compared to Hawaii's offensive stats, the line stats were pretty decent. The Rainbow Warriors ranked in the top 60 in stuff rate, power success rate, and standard downs line yards per carry, and the sack rates weren't awful. Offensive line coach Chris Naeole was held in high enough regard that Rolovich retained him. That's a pretty good sign.

Four of last year's starters are back, along with two upperclassmen who have had spot-starting experience over the years. And while the loss of four-year starting tackle Ben Clarke isn't a good thing, UCLA transfer Fred Ulu-Perry, once a four-star recruit per the 247Sports Composite, is eligible. I would be surprised if UH's line stats regress.

SIGN UP FOR OUR COLLEGE FOOTBALL NEWSLETTER

Get all kinds of college football stories, rumors, game coverage, and Jim Harbaugh oddity in your inbox every day.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.12 9 IsoPPP+ 95.8 81
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 45.6% 105 Succ. Rt. + 86.2 117
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 26.8 121 Off. FP+ 27.3 110
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 4.9 106 Redzone S&P+ 94.8 88
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 17.9 ACTUAL 11.0 -6.9
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 105 94 117 81
RUSHING 120 80 102 59
PASSING 42 107 123 94
Standard Downs 101 114 90
Passing Downs 70 110 36
Q1 Rk 100 1st Down Rk 94
Q2 Rk 109 2nd Down Rk 103
Q3 Rk 44 3rd Down Rk 46
Q4 Rk 102

6. A Kevin Lempa defense

Most of Rolovich's hires are on the younger side. Kevin Lempa is not. The 42-year veteran began his career at Southern Connecticut State in 1974, spent all of the 1980s with Jack Bicknell's Boston College, and served as defensive coordinator at Dartmouth (1991-96), Hawaii (2000-02, when Rolovich was quarterback), Central Connecticut State (2011), and Columbia (2012). He also spent three years with the San Diego Chargers, giving him a unique, coast-heavy résumé.

As far as I can tell, Lempa's defenses have been react-and-swarm units. Neither CCSU in 2011 nor Columbia in 2012 had much in the way of tackles for loss, but they broke up or intercepted quite a few passes, and they forced a quite a few fumbles. So they react to what you're doing (instead of trying to disrupt it), then they go for the ball.

That approach might work pretty well with what Lempa inherits. Hawaii's was a bend-don't-break defense that certainly bent a lot but did a decent job of limiting big plays -- the Warriors allowed 24 gains of 30-plus yards, 45th in FBS. On passing downs, the Warriors were particularly solid at preventing big gains. You might gain eight yards on third-and-8, but you aren't going to gain 80.

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 89 3.07 3.71 41.3% 68.7% 16.9% 95.6 4.7% 8.6%
Rank 111 92 114 99 86 99 71 76 40
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kennedy Tulimasealii DE 6'1, 285 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8369 13 52.5 6.1% 18.5 3.5 0 0 1 0
Kory Rasmussen NT 6'2, 295 Sr. 2 stars 0.7961 13 32.5 3.7% 4.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
Luke Shawley DE 6 20.5 2.4% 2.0 2.0 0 0 0 0
Penitito Faalologo NT 5'11, 300 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 13 18.5 2.1% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Ka'aumoana Gifford DE 6'4, 275 So. 2 stars NR 12 16.0 1.8% 1.0 0.0 0 2 0 0
David Manoa DE 6'3, 240 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7685 13 13.0 1.5% 2.5 2.5 0 0 1 0
Meffy Koloamatangi DE 6'5, 240 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) NR 8 8.0 0.9% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Zeno Choi DE 6'3, 260 So. NR NR 5 3.5 0.4% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jamie Tago DE 6'2, 250 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7733
Sione Kauhi DE 6'5, 275 RSFr. NR NR
Netane Muti DT 6'4, 275 Fr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7900








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Julian Gener ILB 11 79.0 9.1% 13.0 2.5 1 1 2 0
Jerrol Garcia-Williams ILB 6'2, 235 Sr. NR 0.7000 10 72.0 8.3% 3.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Benetton Fonua ILB 11 53.0 6.1% 1.5 0.0 0 0 1 0
Lance Williams OLB 13 49.0 5.6% 7.0 1.0 0 1 2 0
Jahlani Tavai OLB 6'4, 235 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7333 13 41.5 4.8% 5.0 3.0 0 0 0 0
Simon Poti ILB 13 22.0 2.5% 3.5 1.5 0 1 0 0
Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea LB 6'3, 240 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8002 10 16.0 1.8% 2.5 2.5 0 0 0 0
Jeremy Castro OLB 6'4, 240 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8861 7 15.5 1.8% 4.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Russell Williams, Jr. OLB 6'1, 230 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) NR 12 14.5 1.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Noah Borden LB 6'1, 215 So. NR NR 10 3.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Malachi Mageo OLB 6'2, 210 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7000 12 3.5 0.4% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Rashaan Falemalu LB 6'1, 230 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7633
Solomon Matautia LB 6'1, 220 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8331
Manly Williams LB 6'2, 220 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7867
Jeremiah Pritchard LB 6'0, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8300
Ikem Okeke LB 6'0, 210 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8223








7. Run defense was a (relative) strength

Lempa does inherit a legitimate play-maker up front, however. Kennedy Tulimasealii was second in the MWC with 18.5 tackles for loss, most of which came in a form other than sacks. And Hawaii was able to generate a decent passing downs pass rush by attacking from everywhere -- nine guys had at least 1.5 sacks, and none had more than 3.5.

Tulimasealii's partner in crime, inside linebacker Julian Gener, is gone, but this front seven does seem to have decent size and experience. Six of the aforementioned nine pass rushers return, and while injuries thinned out depth at end and linebacker last year, the experience gained from those injuries has potentially created better depth this time around.

The run defense wasn't good last year (80th in Rushing S&P+), but it was obviously better than the pass defense, and I would be surprised if the Warriors didn't match that ranking this year. Tulimasealii's invasive presence won't hurt, but there seem to be enough linebackers and ends here to pursue the ball pretty well.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Trayvon Henderson
(2014)
S 6'0, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8093 11 58.5 7.9% 3 1 2 0 0 0
Marrell Jackson S 10 48.5 5.6% 1 0 0 2 0 0
Nick Nelson CB 6'0, 200 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7926 13 45.5 5.2% 1.5 1 0 15 1 0
Ne'Quan Phillips CB 11 42.0 4.8% 5 0 0 6 0 0
Daniel Lewis Jr. S 5'11, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8141 13 40.5 4.7% 3 1 0 3 0 0
Jalen Rogers CB 6'1, 200 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 13 35.0 4.0% 2 1 1 5 0 0
Dany Mulanga S 6'3, 200 So. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7783 10 33.0 3.8% 0.5 0 1 0 2 0
Gaetano DeMattei S 8 17.5 2.0% 1 0 0 2 0 0
Jamal Mayo CB 5'11, 185 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8381 13 12.0 1.4% 0 0 0 2 0 0
Dejaun Butler DB 5'11, 180 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033 7 9.0 1.0% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Damien Packer DB 5'11, 210 Sr. NR NR 13 8.5 1.0% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Joshua Donovan DB 11 4.5 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cameron Hayes DB 5'11, 180 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8115
Mykal Tolliver DB 6'0, 175 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8156
Keala Santiago DB 6'0, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8115
Scheyenne Sanitoa DB 6'0, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7900








8. Experience in the back

Shuffling was constant in the back of the defense, too. Starting safety Trayvon Henderson played in only two games, and of the 10 players to record at least 8.5 tackles (a sample that doesn't include Henderson), five of them combined to miss 24 games.

Again, though, that could be a boon in 2016. Henderson returns, as do seven of the 10 tacklers referenced. If he has help, Nick Nelson appears to be a nice ball hawk at one corner position, and both Jalen Rogers and Jamal Mayo showed a little bit of ball skill as well. Plus, aggressive-but-small safety Daniel Lewis Jr. returns, and Rolovich signed a pair of three-star (per 247) defensive backs.

Depth issues sank this defense late last year and could again if the injury bug bites enough. But given the experience the Warriors return, improving on last year's No. 99 Def. S&P+ ranking doesn't seem impossible. This unit seems pretty capable of riding a bend-don't-break structure into the 80s or 70s.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Rigoberto Sanchez 6'1, 190 Sr. 74 45.1 2 18 27 60.8%
Aaron Novoa 5 37.6 1 1 1 40.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Rigoberto Sanchez 6'1, 190 Sr. 22 64.2 14 0 63.6%
Mauro Bondi 19 64.0 7 0 36.8%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Rigoberto Sanchez 6'1, 190 Sr. 23-24 3-4 75.0% 5-7 71.4%
Aaron Novoa 4-4 0-0 N/A 0-0 N/A
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Keelan Ewaliko KR 5'11, 200 Jr. 22 26.3 1
Pereese Joas KR 9 23.3 0
Nick Nelson PR 6'0, 200 Jr. 19 7.4 0
Quinton Pedroza PR 2 1.5 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 11
Field Goal Efficiency 29
Punt Return Success Rate 37
Kick Return Success Rate 78
Punt Success Rate 10
Kickoff Success Rate 37

9. Special teams will be an (actual) strength

If you have to punt a lot, you might as well have a great punter. And Rigoberto Sanchez's 45-yard average, combined with a pretty low rate of returnability, may have made him one of Hawaii's better weapons. But the special teams unit had a few of them -- Sanchez was also good at kickoffs and showed good accuracy on deep field goals. Plus, Nick Nelson was almost as good at gaining seven to 10 yards on punt returns as he was at breaking up passes. Keelan Ewaliko was an inconsistent but explosive kick returner, as well.

All three of these players return in 2016, and another top-20 rating in Special Teams S&P+ is conceivable.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
27-Aug vs. California 49 -21.7 10%
3-Sep at Michigan 6 -36.2 2%
10-Sep Tennessee-Martin NR 9.7 71%
17-Sep at Arizona 64 -19.6 13%
1-Oct Nevada 91 -5.7 37%
8-Oct at San Jose State 92 -12.1 24%
15-Oct UNLV 114 2.7 56%
22-Oct at Air Force 80 -16.3 17%
29-Oct New Mexico 102 -1.6 46%
5-Nov at San Diego State 55 -20.9 11%
12-Nov Boise State 36 -18.2 15%
19-Nov at Fresno State 94 -11.9 24%
26-Nov Massachusetts 127 7.2 66%
Projected wins: 3.9
Five-Year F/+ Rk -32.1% (115)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 102 / 100
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* -23 / -16.5
2015 TO Luck/Game -2.5
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 67% (66%, 69%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 3.8 (-0.8)

10. The start of the season is unfair

Hawaii enters 2016 with a roster that appears deeper than it was last fall and features a solid offensive line, a play-making defensive end, and experience most everywhere else. The Warriors might not have the pieces to be efficient enough offensively, and they might retreat into a bend-don't-break that's a little too flexible. Still, they seem to be set up to improve in 2016.

Now look at the schedule and tell me how much that matters. Hawaii opens in Sydney, then travels to Ann Arbor, returns home for a week, and heads to Tucson. The Warriors play five projected top-70 opponents, four are away from home, and three are in the first four weeks.

That is insane. Purely insane. Hawaii's always going to have to travel pretty silly miles, but ... Hawaii to Sydney to Ann Arbor to Hawaii to Arizona, all before September 20. (Here's where you're free to make your own "...all while going to class" remark.)

If the Warriors can maintain some semblance of morale and health, they might find some wins. They do get a bye week after Arizona, and of their nine remaining opponents, six are projected 90th or worse. If UH overachieves its No. 118 projection, then getting to 5-8 or 6-7 wouldn't be out of the question. But a brutal September and a barrage of injuries ended any hope last year. There's at least a chance that the same thing happens this time around.

If nothing else, though, Rolovich knew exactly what he was getting into.