November 25, 2019
This Saturday’s regular season finale against Army at Aloha Stadium will represent a third game against a triple option offense. But unlike the others, the Army offense has much more of a downhill element than either Air Force or New Mexico. They employ the fullbacks far more than the tailbacks. They love to put it right on you up the middle. It’s not only the QB, but also the FB that gets a tremendous amount of work. In fact, the four leading rushers are either QB’s or FB’s.
The first and third leading rusher, are QB’s Kelvin Hopkins JR, (619 yards for 4.9 ypc and 7 TD’s) and Jabari Laws ( 484 yard, 6.4ypc and 4 TD’s). The second and fourth leading rushers are FB’s Connor Slomka ( 572 yards, 4.4ypc and 7 TD’s) and Sandon McCoy ( 464 yards, 4.3ypc and 8 TD’s). Then, for good measure, come the TB’s with four of them totaling 10 TD’s and 700 total yards rushing. Army averages 302.6 ypg running the football. The 2 QB’s also have thrown for an additional 800 yards this season. But nothing is as important as stopping the run.
This Army team has struggled for victories in a way that recent previous Army teams have not. Their record to date is 5 wins, 6 losses, but if you don’t stop the run they can prove to be a handful.
Defensively, Army is physical and relentless led by MLB Cole Christiansen with 99 tackles, including 2.5 TFL’s and 1.5 sacks, and WLB Arik Smith with 66 tackles and 2 TFL’s with 1.5 sacks. CB Elijah Riley has chipped in with 68 tackles, 8 TFL’s, 4 sacks, 3 INT’s and 6 PBU’s . With Army, the problem is never so much figuring out what they are doing, rather how to stop what they are doing.
For UH coming off the MWC West title, the challenge will be to play against a very disciplined unit in Army. There is no way that Hawai’i can suffer a let-down against a disciplined team like the Black Knights. What complicates Army’s task is that they don’t know who Hawaii will play at QB. Recently we have seen either Cole McDonald or Chevin Cordeiro who go about their tasks in slightly different ways. While McDonald is a threat with his legs he does not take off as readily as Cordeiro. McDonald completes a higher percentage of his passes, at 64.8 percent, than Cordeiro at 57.9 percent but between them they have thrown for just shy of 4,000 yards.
The problem in trying to defend Hawaii is that four WR’s and two RB’s are all viable weapons. Hawaii is similar to Army in this respect only. It’s not so much finding out what they do but how to stop it.
The game is a late start at 7.30 p.m. HT, but if Hawai’i takes care of business it will have its ninth win of the season.
By Bobby Curran | The Voice of Rainbow Warrior Football