The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors didn’t do much that was right in 2012 and ended up 3-9 and tied for last place in the Mountain West Conference – their worst record in over a decade. Their offense under new head coach Norm Chow was staid; but, their defense was to be relied on to keep them in games … well, that didn’t happen.
Injuries racked the men of Manoa on the defensive side of the ball and against Division 1 opponents last year, they would give up nearly 50 points per contest over a eight game stretch, while getting shredded versus the run or pass. However, there was a silver lining as they allowed only 17 points over the final nine quarters of the season, while winning their final two gridiron battles.
“a lot of things we have to fix”
After the 2012 season ended, Norm Chow admitted they had a long to way to go before the team could be competitive. The Warriors needed to start with recruiting, but also preparing to get physically more powerful saying, “We have a tremendous amount of work to do; recruiting, getting stronger and making sure we finish strong in the classroom. There are a lot of things we have to do and there are a lot of things we have to fix.” (Source – Hawaii Athletics)
Offense is always looked upon first in these instances because they are more high profile and certainly the Hawaii offense was dismal for the entire season. Chow put in a pro-style attack, changing from their traditional run-and-shoot and obviously the transition was more than the team could handle. However, Chow has backed tracked from his straight-at-them approach and will use a more wide-open offense in 2013, including using the shotgun as a standard formation along with a spread-type system.
Still, although offenses might sell tickets, defense wins games and this coming season appears to be an improvement over last year’s 107th ranked defense. Again, last season saw a slew of defensive linemen go down and out for the year. That left them susceptible to opponents pounding Hawaii’s weak front. The good news is most of their starters on offense and defense return including several freshmen.
The defense will bring back nine men who started on defense last year. Arguably, their top defensive player will be linebacker Art Laurel who also does some pass rushing and will be key to keeping pressure on opposing offenses. Defensive end Tavita Woodard is another player who will be relied on heavily to pressure opposing quarterbacks. Both are seniors. Junior Beau Yap is the other defensive end and he showed promise last season – the two ends should complement each other.
Like last year, the defensive backfield will be the defenses strength even though they lost Mike Edwards who left a year early for the NFL. There’s a lot of skill here beginning with senior John Hardy-Tuliau who will anchor the defense at one safety with Marrell Jackson, who was a breakout player last year as a freshman and could be a future star, set to play at the other safety spot. The corners are likely to be NeQuan Phillips and Tony Grimes.
Do it again?
The last time the ‘Bows finished 3-9 – June Jones’ second year – they came back with a 9-3 club whose losses were by a combined 18 points with a wide open run-and-shoot offense that put the Warriors on the map. The 2013 offense has some pieces starting with new quarterback Taylor Graham, who has patiently waited for his shot (source: Stack).
Yet, this time it could be the defense that will be key to turning the program around and getting to a bowl game. And experience is the strength of the defense including all three linebackers being back — there’s a lot of experience throughout the entire defensive side of the ball.
If they can keep from getting too many injuries, this unit could be a surprise for many opposing teams in 2013. And if that’s the case, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors may be making a return to a bowl game this coming year after missing out in 2012.
Additional sources: University of Hawaii
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Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of Hawaii, visiting there as a second home for over 40 years. Go ‘Bows!