Hawaii vs. New Mexico State: Preview, How To Watch, Prediction, Odds
Warriors looking for their first FBS win
First of two vs. NMSU
WEEK 4: Hawaii Warriors (1-3) vs. New Mexico State (1-3)
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 25th, 2021 – 8 p.m. ET
WHERE: Los Cruces, New Mexico; Aggie Memorial Stadium
STREAMING: FloFootball ($)
This week the Bows get back on the road and head to Las Cruces, New Mexico to take on the New Mexico State Aggies for the first of two games scheduled for this season. Yes, you read that correctly. Hawaii travels to play the Aggies this Saturday, and on October 23rd, the Aggies will come to TC Ching Field to play once more.
Hawaii landed itself at number 10 on ESPN’s Bottom 10 Week 3 edition. For those who are unfamiliar with this list, it is the ten worst FBS teams in the nation. This is a new low for a program that was playing for a conference championship two seasons ago. New Mexico State is “in waiting” and actually got pulled off of this week’s list because of their first win. They are dubbing this as “the battle of the bottom” as the loser will most likely climb up the list that you do not want to be #1 on (currently that spot belongs to UCONN). So yes, this is an important game.
The Aggies come into Saturday’s matchup with a 1-3 record. They picked up their first win last week against FCS South Carolina State 43-35 with walk-on 3rd string Quarterback Dino Maldonado throwing for 321 yards in starter Jonah Johnson’s absence. Johnson is questionable this week with a wrist injury and back-up Weston Eget is also questionable with a knee injury. With Johnson at the helm, the Aggies only scored 16 points in two games and some change, but Head Coach Doug Martin puts high value on his experience and athleticism and it sounds like if he is good to go, he will be the starter on Saturday. Like the Warriors, the Aggies are also searching for an offensive identity and their scheme looks fairly similar to what the Bows are running. A lot of inside zone for little to no gain, incompletions, and not too much explosion.
Defensively, the Aggies struggle to stop the run. In their three games against FBS opponents, they have given up an average of 215 yards on the ground. This could be a big game for Dae Dae Hunter, Dedrick Parsons and Calvin Turner Jr.
Last week the Warrior defense came to play. Yes, they were aided by a lot of costly drops by the San Jose State receivers, but it’s the best we’ve seen this unit play since last season’s New Mexico Bowl and here’s to hoping this is the beginning of an upward trend on that side of the ball. Isaiah Tufaga and Penei Pavihi played well in Darius Muasau’s first-half absence, not allowing the Spartans ground game to get going. Pavihi is now 2 years removed from a knee injury and is looking like he is getting back to top form. His combination of speed and physicality will be crucial going forward as now the Warriors have a solid three-man rotation at the Linebacker position. Jonah Laulu returned to the lineup after missing last week’s game and added a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
If we’re saying that the defense showed up last week, then we also have to say that the offense simply did not. Crucial third down drops, overthrows, negative plays and bad play calling killed offensive drives throughout the night. The Warriors were able to move the ball between the 20s but they struggled mightily in the red zone. The playcalling has gotten too predictable. After hitting a big play or converting a first down, it was almost always followed by an inside zone. One positive takeaway from last week is that Nick Mardner played well again and is stepping into the number one receiver role.
At the end of the day it comes down to play-calling and play design. On one offensive possession, the Warriors ran a delay/draw play action that took so long to develop that Cordeiro was being dragged down by the time he pulled the ball out of the running backs stomach. To make matters worse, they tried to run a delay/draw with the same action on the very next play. Nobody, from my wife who has about as much football knowledge as I do in nuclear physics, to anyone on the San Jose State defense was fooled by anything about either of those plays.
Instead of these long developing plays, the Bows need to help a struggling Chevan Cordeiro out with quick easy completions. Use his athleticism and get him out of the pocket so that he has the ability to take off if things break down. One of the Bows best offensive plays this season has been throwing a short drag route to Mardner and letting him do work after the catch, but they only seem to run that play once a game. Against Oregon State it seemed like Bo Graham was starting to open it up a little bit, but last week was a regression.
The fair-weather fans are gone for the season, but us diehards still believe and even if we don’t, we still blindly support the Bows. Hopefully this weekend in Las Cruces the Warriors can get back on track with a victory over the Aggies. The game is not being televised but if you have some friends who do Jiu Jitsu, ask them to borrow their FloSports subscriptions or host a watch party (less than 10 indoors or 25 outdoors or else Ige will be coming for your head) because it will be streamed on FloFootball. As always, let’s go Bows!