Hawaii will face BYU in the 30th meeting in their long-standing rivalry.
Can the Rainbow Warriors begin to close the gap in the rivalry series with the Cougars?
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UH will not only be playing for their rivalry but for the seniors as well.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (3-8) vs Brigham Young (3-9) 4:00 p.m. HST
Location: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
TV: CBS Sports Network
Radio: KKEA ESPN 1420 (Honolulu), KNUI 550AM (Maui), KHLO 850AM (Hilo), KKON 790AM (Kona), KTOH 99.9FM (Kauai), KNWJ 104.7FM (American Samoa), XM Radio 203 and Sirius Radio 93.
Web Video Streaming: CBSSports.com
Web Audio Streaming: ESPN 1420
Spread: Hawaii +3
- After a four-year break, BYU and Hawaii will reignite their rivalry in their 30th
- The Cougars have dominated the series with a 21-8 record against the Rainbow Warriors.
- BYU allows 25.1 points/game and UH has won every game that they have scored more than 23 points in.
- The Rainbow Warriors have also won their last five Senior Night games but their last loss occurred in 2011 against the Cougars.
- Hawaii is 0-5 in nationally televised games this season and will look to win their first Saturday.
- BYU has played five opponents that UH has this year; both teams hold a 2-3 record against those teams.
UH: QUESTIONABLE: J.R. Hensley (OL), John Wa’a (OL), Matt Norman (OL). OUT FOR SEASON: Metuisela Unga (TE), John Ursua (WR). OUT INDEFINITELY: Fred Ulu-Perry (OL).
BYU: QUESTIONABLE: Trey Dye (RB). OUT FOR SEASON: Beau Hoge (QB), Francis Bernard (LB), Tanner Mangum (QB), Grant Jones (WR), Matt Hadley (DB), Tevita Mo-Unga (DL), Austin McChesney (DB). OUT INDEFINITELY: Kavika Fonua (RB), Ula Tolutau (RB), Moroni Laulu-Pututau (TE).
2017 Team Leaders:
Passing: Dru Brown (UH): 226-374, 2527 YDS, 16 TD, 8 INT; Tanner Mangum (BYU): 147-257, 1540 YDS, 8 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Diocemy Saint Juste (UH): 270 CAR, 1471 YDS, 7 TD; Squally Canada (BYU): 103 CAR, 597 YDS, 4 TD
Receiving: John Ursua (UH): 47 REC, 667 YDS, 5 TD; Matt Bushmann (BYU): 47 REC, 468 YDS, 3 TD
Tackles: Jahlani Tavai (UH): 111 (59 SOLO) TKL; Fred Warner (BYU): 82 (45 SOLO) TKL
Sacks: Jahlani Tavai (UH): 4.5 SCK; Corbin Kaufusi (BYU): 5 SCK
Interceptions: Solomon Matautia (UH): 3 INT; Dayan Ghanwoloku (BYU): 2 INT
Keys to the Game:
Hawaii has been inconsistent in all phases of their game throughout the 2017 season. If you take a look at each game, they have won and lost in very different fashions. These variations are at its core the most significant problem the team has had all season. They’ve lacked a fundamental identity of who they are and what they want to do on the football field. That is a hefty task that will take time to resolve and will need the entirety of the offseason to address. With one game remaining in the 2017 campaign Nick Rolovich must shelve that to win against BYU. Here are a few things that can help the Rainbow Warriors win on Senior Night:
Defense: BYU shares much of the same weaknesses that have plagued many of Hawaii’s opponents in the 2017 season. Primarily on offense, they lack a solid passing attack. The Cougars are 119th in passer rating in the FBS, among fellow Rainbow Warrior foes San Jose State, Utah State, and Wyoming. The BYU offense is most analogous to Utah State with regards to their effectiveness and run-pass ratio. Even though the Cougars pass 6% more than the Aggies, the loss of Tanner Mangum and the subpar performance of Joe Critchlow will force a more run-based offense.
Last week against UMASS, Critchlow completed 46.7% of his passes for just 257 yards and threw four interceptions versus one touchdown. There is little doubt in my mind that the offense will want to lean on Squally Canada, chiefly due to their bad run defense which gives up over 5 yards per carry. It is important to state that Hawaii is nearly dead last allowing opposing quarterbacks an average passer rating of 172.1 so it’s like their defense can stack the box without consequence. Forcing BYU into predictable situations will ease the pressure that the Rainbow Warrior defense will undoubtedly face.
Offense: Hawaii could be without four starting offensive lineman come Saturday. Not to mention the fact that they have struggled to find a viable red zone target to replace Metuisela Unga and a dynamic playmaking receiver to replace John Ursua. Putting together a good plan of attack for any team would be hard under these circumstances. That is why Nick Rolovich has to think outside of the box. Whether it be to roll with dual running backs to help in pass protection or with misdirection, “wrinkles” must be added. The status quo will only lead to more over the same mediocre performances they’ve seen in the past few weeks. With no more games left in the season, there should be no reason to hold back anything in the playbook for tomorrow. There is none and hopefully, the coaching staff will approach this game with creativity and aggressiveness like they did that of the Hawaii Bowl last year against MTSU.
Focus: Focus hasn’t been a problem this season but with the losses piling up and the year coming to an end, the distractions have become numerous. Finals, the holidays and the future are just a few things that are on their minds. No matter the game plan or personnel that gets put on the field, without focus any team will lose. The team will have to remember what they are playing for and that is to send the seniors off with a win. While they won’t get an invite to a bowl game, the team must treat this with every bit of attention they would if it were. Even though BYU has been a massive disappointment this year, they’ve shown that they can compete at a higher level featuring a +2 point differential against the same opponents Hawaii has a -42 point differential. They shouldn’t be taken lightly and Hawaii must come prepared to battle.
In the End:
We are at a point where it is almost impossible for anyone to make a quality prediction for this team. They’ve been inconsistent and never seem to play the same way twice. It pains me to continue to voice an opinion that paints the team in a negative light but I cannot say this game will end the way we Hawaii fans will want.
BYU is very tough against the run, allowing just 3.8 yards per carry good for 36th in the nation. They will stifle Diocemy St. Juste and force the Rainbow Warriors to pass, something they’ve been inadequate at since losing John Ursua. Tack on some injuries on the offensive line and the usual defensive performance you will get a recipe for disaster.
The Cougars will lock it down on defense and find the many holes in the Hawaii defense that has plagued them in 2017 to the tune of a 41-17 victory.
This loss will hurt deep for the program and fans alike. You feel for the seniors to go out in this manner but at the very least they will receive a much deserved “Aloha” from fans for their efforts. The recovery after this season will be a long one but they can’t dwell too much. There is a lot to do in preparation for the 2018 season, especially if it is going to be a successful one. From filling personnel holes to finding an offensive and defensive identity this offseason is going to be a busy one.
Nonetheless, I hope fans enjoy the game. Stay tuned for the recap after the game and don’t forget to follow along on Twitter for play-by-play commentary.