Here’s the perfect scenario for the UH football team. They win their remaining conference games leading to the final one against SDSU, who they would then square off with for the West title in the MWC and then play the Mountain division champ for the overall MWC title. That journey begins Saturday evening at Aloha Stadium against rival Fresno State. There is no margin for error as UH already has 2 conference losses, but the good news is the Rainbow Warriors are likely to be favored in their remaining 4 conference games.
Fresno State comes in 3-4 in what has been a mixed bag of a 2019 season. The Bulldogs returned only 9 starters this year, and had to replace QB Marcus McMaryion among several stalwarts, and as you might expect, that led to some inconsistencies on both sides of the ball. QB Jorge Reyna has been fairly good for the Dawgs, completing 63% of his passes, while throwing for 1655 yards with 10 TD’s and 6 INT’s. In last week’s loss to Colorado State at home, he didn’t manage a scoring throw, but was picked off twice.
Consistency has been the problem. His receivers have talent, but are largely inexperienced. 7 receivers have 10 or more grabs, led by Zane Pope with 27 catches. Only 1 of the receivers has even 3 TD catches so it’s hard to identify a “go-to” guy. The best returning RB is Ronnie Rivers, who is small and fast, averaging 64.3 ypg and has 6 TD’s. Big back Josh Hokit averages 4.4 ypc and has 8 TD’s. As usual, the first order of business for UH’s defense is to stop, or at least slow down the running game.
Defensively, FSU is big in the LB corps, averaging 6’3 and 228lbs, not necessarily an advantage trying to stay with UH receivers when called on. They have held opposing offenses to just under 230 yards passing per game, but will be hard pressed to equal that number against UH. I would expect FSU to play a good deal of nickel against the Rainbow Warriors.
Hawaii was stunningly good against New Mexico last week on offense, running up a historic 35-3 lead at half. UH has gotten good at taking what’s given. When UNM rushed 3, the Bows ran it down their throat. When they tried to bring pressure, Cole McDonald picked them apart. Newly cleared receiver Kumoku Noa sparked UH with a 54 yard TD catch and McDonald had 144 yards rushing with a pair of TD’s.
Defensively, the Rainbow Warriors were opportunistic, and frustrated UNM at every turn. Solomon Matautia had a pick 6, and Ikem Okeke had another INT late to seal the deal after UH reserves surrendered 3 late TD’s. Saturday’s game will be physical; it always is when UH and FSU get together. A little early patience on offense and a stout run defense should put UH in position to advance their cause in the conference.
It’s a 6 p.m. start, so come early and bring a couple of friends. It has the potential to be the most entertaining game of the year.
By Bobby Curran | The Voice of Rainbow Warrior Football