This week Hawai’i takes on the Central Arkansas Bears, an outfit that is more pass happy than, well, Hawaii. The Bears are 3-0, with wins over FBS Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, and Abilene Christian. In the process, they have averaged 351 yards passing per game, and 33 yards per game rushing. That is not a misprint. 33 yards rushing! While Hawai’i is undoubtedly pass centric, even in last weeks humbling 52-20 loss to Washington the Rainbow Warriors managed 141 yards on the ground. So not a lot of mystery on what to expect from the Bears offensively, nor much thought needs to go into Hawaii’s defensive area of concentration.
Bears QB Breylin Smith has completed 75-111 passes for 974 yards and 8 TD’s, good for 67.6% and an efficiency rating of 163.26. And he has no shortage of capable receivers, led by 6’3, 190 Lujuan Winningham, who already has 22 catches for 477 yards and 6 TD’s, and has already been twice named Southland Conference Offensive player of the week. Carlos Blackmon and Tyler Hudson have caught 19 and 13 passes respectively.
Defensively, the Bears give up 149 yards rushing and 279 yards passing per game. Simply put, they don’t worry about their opponents piling up yards, they just want to outscore them. So far so good.
For Hawaii, while they have looked very good in stretches, a couple of troubling trends have emerged. For one, they are starting slowly. Against weaker opponents that has not prevented winning, but against UW it meant a halftime deficit that could not be overcome. Another concern has to be the lack of a pass rush. They will have to find a way to get pressure against Bear QB Smith, or he will look like a man in an English pub throwing darts.
Offensively, it’s been the little things. The QB throwing into overly tight windows, receivers occasionally running before they’ve secured the ball, the odd poor decision on fielding a kickoff, and a sudden issue with converting field goals. QB Cole McDonald has thrown 9 TD’s and 9 INT’s. That ratio has to change.
There is nothing here that is not fixable, but the time is fast coming when continued mistakes will lead to losses. Saturday would be a great time to begin to get it right.
Bobby Curran | The Voice of Rainbow Warrior Football