By Bobby Curran | The Voice of Rainbow Warrior Football
In the wake of Hawaii’s 45-38 win over 11 point favorite Arizona, the Rainbow Warrior staff and players will bear down on analyzing what went well and what needs to be fixed. Let’s start with the plus side: Passing game – huge props here. Hawaii’s offensive line protected well, the receivers tore up man to man defense, led by Cedric Byrd’s 14 catches for 224 yards and 4 TD’s. That’s a season for a lot of guys! And the QB’s were a combined 34-48 for 436 yards and 5 TD’s. The running backs and QB’s combined for 159 yards rushing.
On defense, the Rainbow Warriors got 2 INT’s, and forced 3 three and outs to start the game. Generally, they stuffed JJ Taylor (62 yards rushing) and mostly contained Khalil Tate, who still made some impressive runs and throws.
Special teams lived up to their name. K Ryan Meskell was perfect on PAT’s and made his only FG attempt of 34 yards. Melquise Stovall was terrific on his one real KOR, and sure handed on punts, and UH’s kick and punt coverage teams were outstanding.
On the minus side, Cole McDonald was picked off 4 times, and 3 of those were poor decisions . Also, the 2 fumbles interrupted productive drives. There were a couple of busted coverages in the passing game, and the defense never managed much of a pass rush. Some of that might be just how quick and dynamic Khalil Tate was for the Wildcats.
The Hawaii effort was beyond reproach all game and was personified by Pumba Williams on the game’s last play. With the Wildcats snapping the ball on the Hawaii 30 with 10 seconds to play, Pumba Williams rushed Tate, missed him, and as the QB ran zig-zag for the end zone, sprinted almost 40 yards toward the goal line and tackled Tate on the 1 yard line with no time on the clock, preserving the Rainbow Warrior victory. The effort was so spectacular that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney gathered his team and replayed it on Sunday for the defending national champions. So too, did Georgia and the San Francisco 49ers coaches. In short, lots of room for improvement, but a beautiful start to the season!