Who are these Hawaii Warriors you speak of? Well today will be the first installment of six covering Hawaii's 7-6 season, and leading up to their matchup with the Fighting Irish on December 23rd.
Conference: Western Athletic
Conference Record: 5-3, T-2nd
Home Record: 5-2
Road Record: 2-4
Best Win: at Fresno State 32-29, OT
Best Loss: Cincinnati 29-24
Head Coach: Greg McMackin, 1st Season
McMackin was named Hawaii's head coach January of this year after June Jones left to take the head coaching position at SMU. He became the 21st Coach of the program's history and served two stints as defensive coordinator in 1999 and 2007.
Prior to joining Hawaii in 1999, McMackin was a defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks for four seasons under former coach Dennis Erikson.
So he's been around for quite some time now. He's a defensive oriented guy, but he obviously doesn't have the weapons on defense to get the job done because this Hawaii team gave up a ton of points this year (27.3). They were 72nd in the FBS in scoring defense, and gave up a lot of points to big name teams.
Rushing: 107th (99.3 ypg)
Passing: 33rd (245 ypg)
Total: 74th (344 ypg)
Definitely a huge drop off from last season's squad that made it to the Sugar Bowl against Georgia.
Rushing: 73rd (148 ypg)
Passing: 54th (203.85 ypg)
Passing Eff.: 64th (126.3)
Total: 59th (351 ypg)
One statistic that pops out that should make Irish fans hopeful is Hawaii's pass efficiency numbers. Being 54th in the nation is alright, but then when you look at the Quarterbacks they faced, it should give Notre Dame some reason they could move the ball down the field with ease through the air.
This season it seems like when the Warriors were on the road they were not a very good team, and even when they were at home they were not as dominate as they have been. Hawaii was 5-2 at home this season, and are 22-4 over their last 26 games. So playing them on their own carpet is not an easy task for the Fighting Irish whatsoever.
Hawaii's pass offense is still pass happy as they threw 452 passes this year. They did give up 49 sacks, which is one of their weaknesses and one of the worst in the FBS. They're still dangerous because they can score a little. Anytime you throw that much in that system you have to be ready for it.
In terms of the start of the year Hawaii lost 14 starters. They had 12 returners, only four on offense (3 OL and 1 RB), and on defense they had five returning starters. They did have three speciality players back, so this was a team that didn't have a lot of key guys back. But this was a program that had been making some noise in the previous years under Coach Jones. So I guess we'll have to give Colt Brennan a lot of credit because he put up some ridiculous numbers in Honolulu.
Now we're going to look back at Hawaii's first two games of the season and get a sense of how their season unfolded.
Their first game of the year was not exactly a fun trip because A.) it was a long trip, and B.) you're playing a powerhouse in the Florida Gators. 90,575 fans, the second largest to witness a Hawaii football game, dropped their fourth season opener in the last five years, 56-10.
Hawaii got off to a good start as they drove down in Gator territory on their first two possessions and held the high powered Florida offense scoreless in the first quarter. But it was all Gators as they scored 56 points in the middle two quarters of the game. The Warriors turned it over six times, including four interceptions.
With so many new faces on the Hawaii roster, the Warriors knew it was going to be difficult. But running into Florida was a tough circumstance for a team that went through some coaching and personnel changes.
Florida scored in four different ways against Hawaii: two by interception, a punt return, a run, and then a couple of long passes by Tim Tebow. One of the interceptions was returned 80-yards, so that was not a good way to kick off the season.
In terms of first downs it was Florida 20, Hawaii 16. But if you look at some of the other numbers - Rushing (24 carries for 60 yards) and Passing (21-of-39 for 181 yards and 4 ints) - that's just not Warrior football in terms of throwing the ball effectively. Florida won the total yards battle, 406 to 231, and when you're minus six in turnover margin you have ZERO chance to win the game.
Another telling stat of the game was that Hawaii used three different quarterbacks.
The best way to remedy a bad start is to schedule Weber State in game two. And that's exactly what the Warriors did as they won 36-17 at home.
After trailing 17-7 at the half, Hawaii scored 29 unanswered points in the second half to secure the win. In this game Hawaii had 305 passing yards, out gained Weber State 438-213.
The comeback was sparked by Tyler Gronkey, the senior quarterback who replaced the starter. So far Hawaii has used four different quarterbacks through two games!
Early on in the season the Warriors had a difficult time taking care of of the football, and that's something that will not win you a lot of games. And that too has been a big problem for the Fighting Irish over the last month and a half of the season.
Both Hawaii and Notre Dame had reversals of seasons. During the beginning, Hawaii was not a very good team, while the Irish came out of September playing very well; minus the Michigan State game. Once the teams got to October, the roles reversed as the Irish began to struggle while Hawaii started to come on strong beating the likes of Nevada, a horrible Washington State team, and almost had Cincinnati beat last Saturday. So that right there should open the eyes of the Irish players and coaches.
We'll continue to go over the Warriors season the next few days with the Oregon State and San Jose State recaps coming tomorrow.