Then men who provide all the nightmares to opposing QBs. Break it down!
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) August 18, 2022
Blessman Ta’ala returns for his fifth year and has been a staple in the interior defensive line rotation throughout his time as a Warrior. Senior John Tuitupou should be at the top of the rotation with Ta’ala, but the rest of the interior defensive line rotation is a bit of a question mark as it seemed to be one of the positions of emphasis during the recruiting period.
While the interior defensive line is one of the biggest question marks, the defensive edge brings a lot of optimism. It’s been a long time since the Warriors have had a dominant edge rusher and this year there is hope that one of these guys will break out. Jonah Kahahawai-Welch and Arkansas transfer Mataio Soli look like they have been running with the first unit and there seems to be good depth with Nebraska transfer Wynden Ho’ohuli, Tariq Jones, Andrew Choi and Oregon transfer Austin Faoliu looking to crack the rotation as well. They will need the interior line to be stout against the run and the edges need to get after the quarterback. You’re probably thinking, “Yes Captain Obvious, that is what a defensive line is supposed to do.” and you’re right but it’s easier said than done and it will be critical to the success of the defense.
Penei Pavihi and Isaiah Tufaga will be the starters for the Bows at the linebacker positions. Pavihi has had an up-and-down career mostly because of a knee injury he suffered while he was just starting to break out for the Warriors. He is now a few years removed from that injury, has the physical tools to be great, has looked good this fall and should finish his career on a high note. Isaiah Tufaga is a steady player with great instincts and is someone the coaching staff can rely on. This should be a solid duo in the Mountain West Conference. Noah Kema and Logan Taylor look to be the next two off the bench.
Ball hawks in the no-fly zone. ❌🏈❌ Break it down! #BRADDAHHOOD
— Hawaii Football (@HawaiiFootball) August 18, 2022
There are a lot of new faces in Coach Eliminian’s room and one that catches your eye right away is Virdell Edwards. The Iowa State transfer is a big corner who has shown good coverage ability in camp. It looks like he will start at one of the corner positions. Hugh Nelson, Von Killins, Jalen Perdue, Malik Hausman and Jojo Forest look to be in the rotation at the other corner position. Tiger Peterson, and Peter Manuma look like they have been practicing at a rover/nickel type position similar to the role that Khoury Bethley played for the Bows last season. Local products Noa Kamana, Leonard Lee and Matagi Thompson have been getting a lot of reps at the safety position. Lee has been a ball hawk and continues to come up with plays during scrimmages. The former walk-on looks like he has carved out a spot in the rotation.
Matthew Shipley has a chance to be one of the best specialists in the conference when it is all said and done. He has continued to improve since stepping foot on campus. Last season he was 18-21 for field goals and perfect on extra point attempts. He will be the primary place kicker and punter for the Warriors this season. Kyler Halvorsen has a big leg and will handle the kick-off duties.
There is a three man competition at Long snapper as the Bows look to replace 3 year starter Wyatt Tucker.
Dior Scott, Tylan Hines, James Phillips, and Jalen Perdue are all exciting options that could see action in the return game.
Also making debuts in their new roles will be offensive coordinator Ian Shoemaker, defensive coordinator Jacob Yoro and special teams coordinator Thomas Sheffield.
Coach Shoemaker and Coach Chang have worked together to build an offensive scheme made up of both run and shoot and spread RPO concepts. Coach Shoemaker makes his FBS coordinator debut after having success at the FCS level with Eastern Washington. There is no game film on this new scheme so Hawaii should have a tactical advantage especially early in the season.
Coach Yoro has been part of the defensive coaching staff since the Rolovich era and now gets his opportunity to call the plays. Last season the defense excelled in takeaways and I think he will continue that ball attacking style going forward.
Coach Sheffield comes over from Nevada/Colorado State with Coach Chang where he served as the special teams coordinator. He is very enthusiastic and coaches up special teams with the emphasis on details, technique and effort. Hawaii had not previously had a special teams coordinator and it showed with many miscues and big plays given up. The addition of Coach Sheffield should help to improve that phase of the game.
Hawaii was picked to finish in last place in the West division of the conference but I believe this team will outperform a lot of people’s expectations. They should enter the season with a chip on their shoulder, nothing to lose attitude and I think that makes a team dangerous. Last year’s team had a lot of talent, but they fell apart throughout the season. Coach Chang has preached the importance of the ‘Braddahhood’ so I don’t see that being a problem this season. The season is upon us. You can feel the excitement building around the community. The Chang Era begins on August 27th against the Vanderbilt Commodores at T.C. Ching Field. If you don’t have tickets yet, what are you waiting for? Let’s pack the stands and create a great college football atmosphere for the Warriors. As always, let’s go Bows!