This week’s trip to Boise is one whose outcome could end up being hugely significant. A Boise win would move the Broncos one big step closer to an undefeated season and a likely New Year’s Day bowl game, which would mean a nice payday for every conference member, and some national respect. A Hawai‘i road win could well propel the Rainbow Warriors into the Top 25 in the Amway Coaches Poll. (UH is currently “Also Receiving Votes,” which would rank them at No. 32.)
Hawai‘i has never won at Boise, largely because the Broncos have been very good. Bad luck or bad karma have had precious little to do with the Broncos’ 6-0 record at home against UH.
Now, a look at the teams: UH scores 37 points per game and gives up 27.4. Boise State scores 32.6 and surrenders an average of 16. Hawaii has passed it 215 times and run it 140. Boise St. Has thrown it 186 and run it 192 times. Those numbers shouldn’t surprise anyone, as UH has been pass heavy when in the run and shoot, and Boise is typically balanced.
The Broncos have a freshman QB named Hank Bachmeier, who has completed 63.5% of his throws, and recorded 8 TDs and 3 INTs. He is a young player who has done enough to keep winning, but hasn’t been as consistent as he will become. He’s generally well protected, but has been sacked 13 times. There are two main running threats: George Holani has 302 yards for 5.4 yards per carry, while Robert Mahone has 301 yards for 5.1 yards per, but has 4 TDs. The Broncos also have five receivers who have 12 or more receptions, led by Khalil Shakir with 26 grabs and 2 scores. Jon Hightower has 17 catches and 3 TDs, CT Thomas has 16 catches with a team leading 18.9 yards per catch and 3 scores, Akilian Butler has 15 grabs, and John Bates has 12 receptions and a TD. Four other receivers have at least 6 catches apiece.
As always, the Broncos use a lot of personnel groups, multiple formations and a variety of motion pre-snaps. They let you make mistakes, and don’t make many themselves.
Defensively, Boise is aggressive and physical, led by LB/DE Curtis Weaver who has 9 sacks, one more than Hawaii’s entire team. They will come after Cole McDonald, but will be judicious in the use of the blitz. Their second-leading tackler is NT Sonatane Lui. I don’t think I have ever seen that. They will play a mix of man and zone, and will adjust quickly depending on the flow of the game.
UH, meanwhile, is coming off its most complete win in memory. They were dominant in all three phases in their road blow out of Nevada. QB Cole McDonald seems to be in complete command of the offense. He’s had great games back to back, and is now completing 69% of his passes. The offensive line will likely get Kohl Levao back from injury, but it is uncertain how much he will play. Melquise Stovall also is likely to return, and he has been missed in the return game. A couple of other rotational players may also return from injury on defense.
UH has to play exceptionally smart on defense, concentrating on their keys and ignoring much of Boise State’s shifts and motion. Offensively, UH just needs to play within itself, and the O-line will have to play really well. Hawai‘i can, and will likely have to score around their average in order to win. After the Nevada game, one can’t help but be hopeful about Hawaii’s chances. Go, Rainbow Warriors!
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