Know Your 2020 Opponents: Part 1

Know Your 2020 Opponents: Part 1

The 2020 University of Hawaii football schedule was unveiled this past Thursday. The Rainbow Warriors and their new head coach, Todd Graham, have a challenging 13-game slate this coming season, including another trio of contests against Pac-12 foes. We thought we’d take a closer look at the schedule and how UH might stack up against each opponent. We start with capsule glances at the first seven games of 2020. Come back tomorrow for Part 2!

Aug. 29: @ ARIZONA

John Wilner of the Mercury News has already predicted a last-place finish for the Wildcats in the Pac-12’s South Division. The team finished 4-8 in 2019, and head coach Kevin Sumlin is facing a make-or-break season in 2020. What’s more, Rivals.com has ranked Arizona’s incoming recruiting class as the worst in the conference. Expect the team’s defense to improve, with a coaching overhaul and a recruiting emphasis on that side of the ball. Of course, the Wildcats will be looking for revenge after falling to the Rainbow Warriors in a 45-38 thriller last season at Aloha Stadium.

Sept. 5: UCLA

The Bruins have only played at Aloha Stadium once, and it was against Kansas in the 1995 Aloha Bowl. (The Jayhawks walloped the Bruins, 51-30.) Hawaii and UCLA have only played each other three times: in 1935, ’39 and again in 2017 – all Bruin victories. The Bruins have had four consecutive losing seasons. In his two seasons at UCLA, head coach Chip Kelley is 0-4 against Group of Five opponents.

Sept. 12: FORDHAM

This will be Hawaii’s first-ever meeting with the Rams, who posted a 4-8 record last season. Fordham is an NCAA Division I FCS school that competes in the Patriot League (Bucknell, Georgetown, Lehigh, Holy Cross, etc.). The team’s offensive line surrendered more than four sacks per game in 2019, which could bode well for a UH defense that will be looking to attack more this season.

Sept. 19: @ OREGON

The Ducks are the reigning Pac-12 Conference champions. Their 12-2 record last season includes a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. QB Justin Herbert is gone, but two-time 1,000-yard rusher CJ Verdell returns. New offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead described his offensive philosophy at a recent press conference: “It’s a multi-temp spread. We’re primarily based out of 11 personnel – one RB, one TE – but we do some different things. [We] strive for as much 50-50 balance as we can.”

Oct. 3: NEVADA

The Rainbow Warriors get to take advantage of a bye week before hosting their first conference game of the season against Nevada. Hawaii dominated last season’s game with the Wolf Pack, winning 54-3 in Reno. The Wolf Pack surrendered 31.9 points per game in 2019 (coincidentally, the same as Hawaii) and, as a result, head coach Jay Norvell drastically overhauled his defensive staff. (Only D-Line coach Jackie Shipp returns.) Said Norvell: “We’re going to be a little more multiple, play a little more four down, but we’re going to be more aggressive in our coverage schemes. I want to play man coverage.”

Oct. 10: NEW MEXICO STATE

The Aggies had a tough 2019, losing their first nine game of the season and finishing the season 2-10. Two of their losses were against the same opponent: Liberty. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the Rainbow Warriors and Aggies will play each other twice in 2021.) The last time Hawaii played New Mexico State was in 2011. UH is 8-0 all time against the Aggies. Aggies head coach Doug Martin has been battling misconduct allegations since the end of the 2019 season.

Oct. 17: @ AIR FORCE

Hawaii will be looking to avenge its worst conference loss of 2019; the Falcons crushed UH, 56-26, in Colorado Springs. Air Force won their final eight games of the season, punctuating their success with a win over Washington State in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. The Falcons had the second-best rushing attack in the country last season – averaging 298.5 rushing yards per game – and returns leading RB Kadin Remsberg. Remsberg ran for 91 yards on just 11 carries (8.3 yards per carry) and two TDs against Hawaii last season.

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