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Preview: Hawaii-Portland State

By Bobby Curran.

The last time Portland State played a football game was before Thanksgiving in 2019. During that 2019 season, the Vikings were 5-7, and 3-5 in the Big Sky conference. They ran it more than they threw it, but gained 3,096 yards in the air and 2,349 on the ground. They scored 34.7 ppg and surrendered 30 ppg. They played two FBS teams, playing Arkansas to a TD in the opener and getting blown out at Boise State.

Their head coach, Bruce Barnum, was the OC at PSU before taking over as the HC and is beginning his seventh season as the head man. He was the FCS coach of the year in 2015, going 9-3, but is 21-37 overall. The biggest win in Vikings history was before Barnum’s time against (who else?) Hawaii, beating the Bows 45-20, in 2000 at a sold-out Aloha Stadium. At the time, UH was the defending WAC champions and Oahu Bowl champions.
Despite having what is thought to be the biggest lineman in college football history in John Krahn at 6’10, 395 lbs, this is a team that has depth issues caused by the 63 scholarship limit. Their QB is Davis Alexander, who is 5’11, 195, but the TE, Daniel Giannosis is 6’10 and 270. It’s hard to figure this group out, but know that very few highly recruited athletes pick a middle-of-the-road FCS team. They tend to get size without speed, and speed without size. And a year’s rust thrown in for good measure.
Hawaii comes of a bad loss at UCLA and needs a good performance to erase the taste of poor play. Hawaii, to keep it simple, could neither catch nor tackle, and were out of the game by the end of the first quarter, and gave up over 200 yards rushing in the first half. But there were bright spots. Cameron Lockridge was a sticky pass defender, LB Darius Muasau was terrific as usual with 10 tackles, Iowa State transfer Chima Azzuna chipped in with seven stops, and Jonah Laulu put some pressure on UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. On offense, Howard transfer Dedric Parson showed flashes at RB and with Dae Dae Hunter will form a potent 1-2 punch. Despite a rough start and facing huge pressure from the rush, Chevan Cordeiro settled down and made some plays, including a TD pass to Stanford transfer Caleb Phillips, who also looks like he could be a big help.
UH needs to play much better, and I believe it starts in the home opener on Saturday. And due to significant attention from the Bruin defense including playing brackets, the real Calvin Turner has yet to emerge.
The talent and depth disparity is greater in this game than it was in the UCLA game, this time in Hawaii’s favor. If Hawaii shows the kind of play they exhibited in camp, and just does what they’ve proven they’re capable of, this will yield an excellent result. Go ’Bows!

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