Hawaii vs. San Jose State: Keys to Victory
After a comeback win during their Homecoming game, UH looks to spoil the festivities at SJSU’s Homecoming.
What does the Rainbow Warriors need to do to maintain their lead in the West Division?
The odds-makers have recognized the early successes and struggles of each team giving the Rainbow Warriors a 10-point advantage on Friday. While the Spartans’ record doesn’t give a good impression, they have been run through the gauntlet in two out of their first three games. They had to travel to the Pullman, WA to face Mike Leach’s Washington State offense and then to Eugene, OR to slug it out with a ranked Oregon Ducks team.
The Spartans have their issues early in the 2018 season but by no means should the Rainbow Warriors look past them. A poor start like the one they had against Duquesne will surely doom them in San Jose. Here are a few key points that Nick Rolovich and company should look to take advantage in their quest to go 5-1:
Off to the Races: Outside of their 500-yard offensive explosion in Week 1 against UC Davis, San Jose State has struggled mightily on offense. Against FBS competition this year, the Spartans have averaged only 0.7 yards per carry, a 49.28% completion percentage to go with a 125th ranked 90.0 passer rating. Their poor offensive starts have only been complicated by their indecisiveness so far at the quarterback position.
Considering the San Jose State problems on offense, it would benefit Hawaii to get off to a lead early. The Rainbow Warriors broke their opening drive touchdown streak last week against Duquesne but an opening touchdown would do wonders for them. It will take the Homecoming crowd out of the game and put the Spartans on their heels. A good start led by the Cole McDonald and the D-Train (Dayton Furuta) will be critical to the UH gameplan.
Where is the Love: The struggles that the Spartans face on offense stems from their offensive line play. This season, they have allowed an average of 7.7 pressures per game (sacks plus hurries). It’s not like Josh Love or Aaron Montel have been very good this year but the continuous pounding they receive each game does not help. In fact, the 4 sacks that San Jose State allows per game makes them the third worst team in the nation.
Hawaii has averaged 1.8 sacks per game (80th in the nation) and will be able to take advantage of the porous San Jose State offensive line. If the defense can put themselves in good positions to allow the linemen to pin their ears back and hunt down the quarterback on 3rd downs, Josh Love and Aaron Montel will have a hard time leading their team on drives
Clean it Up: Knowing that SJSU has one of the worst offenses in the nation it will be important for the UH defense to the big plays and penalty yards. The Spartans have enough trouble moving the ball and to top that they’ve been at the bottom of the NCAA in 3rd Down Conversion Rate, sitting at #127 with 28%. The Hawaii defense should not experience a whole lot of problems in San Jose but they still cannot afford to give away free yards and possessions.
A large reason for the terrible first half against Duquesne resulted from gifting the Dukes with opportunities. You can get away with the kinds of gaffes that happened early last week because of the physical advantages an FBS team has against an FCS team; that will not be the case against a fellow FBS program let alone a divisional rival. Hawaii must play a clean four-quarter game to leave California with a win.