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2018

Hawaii

College Football

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Hawai’i had three wins last year with one coming against an FCS school and the other two coming against teams with a combined six wins. The Rainbow Warriors went to overtime in their first Mountain West game and then lost six of their next eight by double digits. Improving will be difficult with a new quarterback and only 10 starters returning in all. That being the case, they opened with an over/under of 3.5 wins and long +30000 odds to win the MWC at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Warriors went to a mini run-and-shoot offense last year led by coordinator Brian Smith, but it only led to 22.8 points per game and will now have to run it with a new quarterback and without Diocemy Saint Juste, who ran for 1,510 yards. Head coach Nick Rolovich is set to call the plays, but that won’t make his players better. Sophomore Cole McDonald, last year’s backup, is projected to start, although he has competition from two new guys. He’s expected to sling it out in a four-wide set with John Ursua (667 yards) and JUCO transfer Cedric Byrd the top targets. Running back is more undetermined with numerous guys set to see snaps led by Freddie Holly, who only had nine carries last year. Behind a line that returns only two starters, it won’t be easy for McDonald to get this offense moving.

The defense also gets a new look with Corey Batoon taking over, as he arrives from Florida Atlantic. His defense is ever changing with a lot of motion and that could lead to some confusion early in the season. While Batoon brings hype, this is still a group that gave up 34 points and 459 yards per game last year. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai is expected to post huge numbers again after having 253 tackles the last two years, but that only goes so far. Outside of Tavai, cornerback is probably the next best unit with returning starters Rojesterman Farris and Eugene Ford to go with nickel Manu Hudson-Rasmussen. While the names are fun to say, they’ll need to learn this new defense and hope it pays immediate dividends because this group didn’t stop anyone last year outside of Western Carolina.

Rolovich is doing everything he can to turn this team around from a disappointing 2017, but bookmakers have their doubts. There should be non-conference wins against weaker times like Rice and Duquesne, but getting wins in the Mountain West is more important. The best opportunities for the Warriors will be late in the year in home games against Nevada, Utah State and UNLV. Otherwise, they’ll likely be underdogs in every other game and possibly those three listed. Even the trip to San Jose State, the only team they beat last year, isn’t a freebie. If the offense clicks out of the gate at CSU, the season could look a lot different. But as a two-touchdown underdog against a mediocre MWC team, it’s hard to project a return to a bowl for Rolovich.

 

2018 Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors Football Schedule

Aug. 25 at Colorado State 

Sept. 1 vs. Navy

Sept. 8 vs. Rice

Sept. 15 at Army

Sept. 22 vs. Duquesne

Sept. 29 at San Jose State

Oct. 6 vs. Wyoming

Oct. 13 at BYU

Oct. 20 vs. Nevada

Oct. 27 at Fresno State

Nov. 3 vs. Utah State

Nov. 17 vs. UNLV

Nov. 24 at San Diego State

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