Warriors Picked Sixth In MWC West Division

rolo

(Photo from khon2.com)

To no surprise, the Hawaii Warriors football team was picked to finish last in the West Division of the Mountain West Conference during the conference’s media days today.  The Norm Chow led Warriors finished last in the MWC west division last season (0-8) and were a meager 3-10 overall.  Not one Warrior player received preseason recognition by the conference.

It will be interesting to see how first year head coach Nick Rolovich and his new look Warriors do in 2016.  The schedule is extremely difficult but the Warriors should be improved just from a standpoint of scheme.  Rolovich will re-implement the pistol shoot offense that he ran at UH from 2009-2011 as an offensive assistant.  I believe one can conclude that an offense like the pro style that Norm Chow ran, simply is not a good fit at a school like Hawaii.  The spread or run and shoot offense was already proven to be successful at the school and should not have been scrapped.  The run and shoot has been Hawaii’s identity for most of the 21st century.  With all-MWC DL Kennedy Tulimasealii suspended, Hawaii will have no other choice but to rely more on offense in 2016.

Norm Chow’s pro style offense did not produce great offensive numbers but he and his staff did not leave the cupboard bare.  There is enough talent for the Warriors to pull another surprising turnaround if they can keep injuries to a minimum.  Maybe not an 0-12 to 9-4 type turnaround but winning 6-8 games and knocking on the door of a Hawaii bowl berth might not be out of the question.

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Hawaii Makes Right Decision, Appeals 2016-2017 Postseason Basketball Ban

(Above photo from khon2 news)

University of Hawaii Athletic Director David Matlin made it official today.  Hawaii will be appealing the NCAA ruling that the school will not be eligible to play in the postseason for the 2016-2017 season (next season.)  As of now, the Warriors would not be eligible to play in either the 2017 Big West postseason tournament or the NCAA tournament.  The NCAA also put Hawaii on probation through the 2017-2018 season and deducted 2 scholarships each season through 2018.  The latter was accepted by UH and will not be appealed.

Hawaii made the right decision.  All the parties involved including former head Coach Gib Arnold are no longer a part of the program.  The entire coaching staff and the current players, on the team, had nothing to do with the NCAA violations.  The NCAA postseason ban is not fair to the players, coaches or the fans.  What makes things worse is the NCAA will be allowing every player on the current roster to transfer after this season and play at any NCAA division 1 program right away, without having to sit out a season.  That really makes things difficult for new head coach Eran Ganot who has a chance to build something great at UH.

We all know the NCAA is not fair especially to the smaller schools of the NCAA.  While bigger schools with more money are allowed to get away with almost everything in the book, a school like UH gets penalized for actually doing the right thing once they found out NCAA violations were committed.  Once informed of the violations, then University of Hawaii Athletic Director Ben Jay acted proactively and fired then UH coach Gib Arnold and the player(s) and coaches involved.  Hawaii did the right thing.  Now it is time for the NCAA to man up and do the same!



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Kevin Lempa Front-Runner For UH Defensive Coordinator Job

(Photo from the Honolulu Staradvertiser)

Kevin Lempa is the leading candidate to become the Warriors defensive coordinator per SB Nation (BC Interruption) and footballscoop.com.  Lempa who is currently the defensive backs coach at Boston College, was the Warriors defensive coordinator under former head coach June Jones from 2000-2002.  Hawaii won 9 games in 2001 and 10 games in 2002 and Lempa’s bend but no break, turnover heavy defense was a big part of that.



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Rolo Will Throw

(Photo from twitter.com)

If there was some doubt about what type of offense Hawaii will run under new head coach Nick Rolovich, they were diminished last night during his first call the coach radio show.  They hiring of Eastern Washington offensive coordinator Zak Hill and former Warrior offensive lineman Brian Smith might have already gave it away.  One can argue that Smith and Hill are two of the better young offensive minds in college football.  Both want to pass the ball.  Zach Hill led the Eagles to one of the top passing offenses in the FCS (353.27 YPG), despite losing all-everything quarterback Vernon Adams who transferred to Oregon following the 2014 season.  He and Rolovich will implement the four receiver offensive spread attack at UH.

The Warriors will run an offense similar to the 2010 UH team, with just a few tweaks here and there.  Rolovich has said UH will use a tight end.  Not really as a power blocker but more as a receiver.  In some ways, UH went in that direction in 2010 and 2011 when Rolovich was offensive coordinator.  Greg Salas (119 rec, 1,889 yds, 14 td’s in 2010) was used as a big slot and was extremely productive.  Expect the big slot to now be a tight end.  UH has some intriguing pass catching tight ends already on the roster.  Tui Unga has proved he can be a very dangerous target down the field.  Dakota Torres also has a lot of potential.

This offense might not be called the run and shoot but look for it to be just as productive, if not, more productive than the four receiver offense June Jones implemented in 1999.  Like I wrote in a previous article, I believe that talent is already in place for UH to put up phenomenal passing numbers in 2016.  The schedule will be difficult but look for Rolovich and this staff to get this program to believe again.  He is already in the process of doing this.  Rolovich no doubt has some June Jones in him.  Motivational speeches are one of his fortes.  His speech during his introductory press-conference at UH has already helped him in the recruiting process.  He was already successful in landing UCLA transfer and former Saint Louis High School offensive lineman Fred Ulu-Perry.  Ulu-Perry was considered the #1 ranked center in the country coming out of high school last season.  One of Rolovich’s pet peeves has been, #BeLoyalToTheSoil.  He believes in getting as many of the top local high school players to stay home and play for UH.  If any coach can do this, it is Rolovich.  He is not from Hawaii but he bought in and embraced the local culture when he came to UH as a player in 2000.  This has remained with Rolovich and look for this to be a major factor for him in the local recruiting game.



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Hawaii Gets Back To Its Roots, Hires Rolovich As Head Coach

(photo from the Honolulu Staradvertiser)

Athletic Director David Matlin and the University of Hawaii did the right thing, last Friday. They announced the hiring of former record setting quarterback, offensive coordinator and current Nevada OC Nick Rolovich as its head coach.  It was the right move for a lost program.  Rolovich has learned a lot from some great coaches during his time as a player and coach.  He played for and was a student assistant for June Jones who is still the winningest coach in University of Hawaii football history (76-41.)  He was an offensive coordinator for Nevada under legendary Wolfpack head coach Chris Ault.  During that time, he learned a lot about how to run the football out of the spread offense.  Rolovich already has a great offensive football mind and he proved that in 2010.

Rolovich will most likely run a combination of the run and shoot offense with the pistol rushing attack.  It should look like something similar to what he ran while the OC at UH in 2010 and 2011.  Can this offense be successful?  There is no doubt about it and all you have to do is look at the numbers.  Hawaii put up absolutely mind-boggling numbers in 2010.  Quarterback Bryant Moniz threw for 5,040 yards (65% completion rate) with 39 TD’s and 15 INT’s.  His running back Alex Green ran for 1,199 yards and 18 TD’s.  He had two receivers with over 1,300 receiving yards.  Slotback Greg Salas had 119 receptions for 1,889 yards and 14 touchdowns.  The other slotback Kealoha Pilares had 88 receptions for 1,306 yards 15 touchdowns.  Not only did Hawaii have one of the top total offenses in the country that season (#2 nationally with 501 total YPG), they also won games.  They won a share of the WAC title, won 10 games and earned a Hawaii bowl berth.  The numbers dropped off tremendously in 2011 due to the loss of talent.  Salas, Green and Pilares all graduated and are currently playing professional football.

The Warriors already have the talent in place to run this scheme and be extremely successful.  Ikaika Woolsey struggled with decision making in Norm Chow and Don Bailey’s offense but was recruited by Rolovich to play in his pistol shoot offense in 2011 before he left for Nevada.  With the coaching of Rolovich and being in a scheme that is a better fit for his abilities, I believe Woolsey has the potential to put up good numbers and lead UH to a bowl game his senior season in 2016.  The skill players are loaded with talent.  Marcus Kemp (36 receptions, 563 yards, 2 TD’s) and Devan Stubblefield (30 receptions, 351 yards, 4 TD’s) would be great fits as outside WR’s in Rolovich offense.  Dylan Collie (29 receptions, 342 yards, TD) and Isaiah Bernard ( 21 receptions, 219 yards, TD) are the prototypical type of slotbacks in the run and shoot offense.  Running back Paul Harris (197 rushes, 1,132 yards, 6 TD’s) was Hawaii best offensive player in 2015.  He also proved to be effective catching passes out of the backfield (14 receptions, 151 yards.)  The Warriors will look solid up front only losing 1 offensive linemen to graduation in Ben Clarke.

With all that said, Rolovich has not spoken much about scheme since being introduced as the Warriors new coach.  He has talked about bringing back pride to the University and state, which is something that has been missing since he left after the 2011 season.  Rolovich has a lot of June Jones in him.  He has the ability to motivate players.  This was evident while watching his introductory press conference.  He seemed to  have everyone in the room ready to run through a wall for him.  Like I said, he has the talent to run his scheme successfully and win games.  He also is a great motivator and already knows and embraces the Hawaiian culture.  If he hires the right assistants, the Warriors could be poised for a quick turnaround in 2016.  One thing is almost already certain: Warrior fans are behind Rolovich 100% and look for more fans to be at Aloha Stadium to support the program.



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Chow Dismissed, June Jones To Apply For Hawaii job

 

(photo from Sports Illustrated)

It was music to the ears of Hawaii fans when they found out that the University of Hawaii relieved Norm Chow of his duties this past Sunday. Chow was only able to muster a 10-36 record in 3+ seasons.  It was evident deep into his 4th season that Chow just was not a good head coach.  He was a great assistant coach at BYU (1 national championship as OC) and USC (2 national championships and coached 2 heisman trophy winners as OC) as well as NC State (coached future NFL all-pro QB Philip Rivers.)  Chow also had a stop in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans as an offensive coordinator.  Sometimes assistants turn into great head coaches but this was not the case with Chow.  Chow was a great guy that did some good things for program.  The football team had an all-time APR (academic progress rate) while he was head coach.  OL coach Chris Naeole has been named interim head coach for the remainder of the 2015 season.

Soon after Chow was dismissed as coach, as required, the University of Hawaii posted its opening of the head coaching position.  A few candidates emerged right off the bat in former HC June Jones, former UH assistant Rich Miano and former UH QB and OC Nick Rolovich.  The main candidate has to be June Jones.  Jones made it official last night telling the Honolulu Star Advertiser that he will be applying for his old job.  Jones took over the UH program in 1999 in a similar position as it is right now.  The program was coming off an 0-12 season and the school was talking about the possibility of dropping football.  Jones turned the program around right away leading Hawaii to a 9-4 record and taking UH to its first bowl game in 7 seasons.  Jones ended up winning 76 games, which remains the most in school history.  He lead UH to 7 bowl games including the Sugar Bowl in 2008.  He looks like the best fit to take over this program right now.

Chow proved his vanilla offensive schemes just did not work at a school like Hawaii.  June Jones run and shoot offense worked brilliantly as well as the spread option offenses run by Bob Wagner and Paul Johnson.  Hawaii, usually, is not able to get the huge guys upfront to just push the opposing defensive line back and play big boy football.  Hawaii needs to do something more creative to keep defenses off balance and be more difficult to prepare for. Here are more possible candidates that could emerge:

Dino Babers- former UH DB and GA, current BGSU HC

Brian Norwood- ex-UH player, current co-DC at Tulsa

Ivin Jasper- ex-UH QB, currently QB coach at Navy

Timmy Chang- ex-UH QB, current OC at Jackson State

Jeff Ulbrich- ex-UH LB, ex-UCLA DC, currently LB coach for Atlanta Falcons

Adrian Klemm- ex-UH OL, current OL coach at UCLA



 

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The Time Is Now For Chow To Retire

The first part of the schedule was tough.  How tough?  The Warriors started the season off with a solid home win over an improved Colorado team out of the pac-12.  Then three outof the next four games were road games at #1 Ohio State, Wisconsin and Boise State.  Not too many teams, if any, would have to go through a stretch of games that difficult, in the first month of the season.  Many expected the team to put up more of a fight then they did (outscored 121-0), but everyone had them losing those three games.

Many people gave Norm Chow a pass during these tough stretch of games.  2-3 is what the Warriors were heading into the Mountain West home opener.  Many thought this newly implemented spread offense would breakout against a weaker opponent like San Diego State.  The Aztecs are actually not that bad of a program.  They have been one of the top programs in the MWC west division for the last few years.  It is safe to say that they are having a down season, though.  Their top running back Donnell Pumphery has been banged up the last couple of weeks and the Aztecs went 1-3 in their non-conference schedule.  SDSU’s home OT loss to South Alabama was their lowest point of the young season so far.  Their 21-7 win over Fresno State to begin the MWC season did not say much either.  The Bulldogs are having a rough season as well at 1-5 overall and 0-3 in MWC play.

The bottom line is, Hawaii and their fans came into their MWC home opener with big expectations.  They were expected not to just win but possibly win big.  Those 3 tough early season games on the road, in hostile environments had to pay dividends for this team.  Unfortunately for many Hawaii fans, they were wrong.  They would fall to SDSU, 28-14.

Chow does not get a pass for this game.  This was a game that Hawaii should have won, period.  This is starting to look like last season.  Hawaii started the season off with an impressive showing on national television then regressed the rest of the season.  Good programs show progress through out a season.  Hawaii continues to regress under this coaching staff and Norm Chow as the head coach is the one to blame.

Warrior fans need to stand up and say enough is enough.  After all, this was a program that had a ton of respect nationally not too long ago.  They were fun to watch and competed for conference championships and bowl games, year in and year out.  There was actually a time when ESPN enjoyed showing late night Hawaii games.  Oh my how the mighty have fallen!  Not only is Chow 10-33 in the middle of his fourth season at UH, his teams style of play, to simply put it, is boring.  For an offense that was supposed to be exciting and put up big numbers under new offensive coordinator Don Bailey, they have been anything but.  Hawaii ranks 124th out of 128 FBS teams in total offense (180.8 YPG.)  This was an offense that had a goal of scoring 75 offensive touchdowns.  Hawaii is currently averaging 14.8 PPG through six games and they can thank their special teams unit for contributing to part of that average.  That just simply is not going to get it done.  It is safe to say that as long as Norm Chow is the head coach at Hawaii, the status quo will remain.  They will continue to be horrible but every once in a while, reach mediocrity.  There are just too many quality coaches (many with ties to the UH program) out there that could do a much better job.

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Hawaii Names Max Wittek Starting QB

uh-quarterback-practice wittek

(Above image from khon2.com)

The Honolulu Star Advertiser broke the news earlier today that former USC signal caller Max Wittek, has been named the starting quarterback for Hawaii’s opener vs Colorado on September 3rd.  This does not come as a big surprise as Wittek was named a co-captain and took the majority of reps during spring practice.  Many people have said that last seasons starter Ikaika Woolsey, had a breakthrough spring and made this a tough decision for head coach Norm Chow and offensive coordinator Don Bailey.  Woolsey will be the immediate backup with Beau Reilly as the #3 QB on the depth chart.  Highly touted QB Aaron Zwahlen joins the fold in the fall and will begin his UH career as the #4 QB on the depth chart.

 

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Isaac Fleming To Return To Hawaii

122514-CBK-Hawaii-Isaac-Fleming-PI-CH.vadapt.620.high.0

 Above photo from foxsports.com

Hawaii fans got excellent news yesterday when Fr. Isaac Fleming tweeted that he would return to the Warrior basketball program.  When UH announced Eran Ganot as its new head coach and not Benji Taylor, many speculated that Fleming may decide to transfer to a bigger program closer to his home in Delaware.  That was not that case as after several meetings with Ganot, and conversations with his family, Fleming said he has bought in “100%” to the new coach and will return to UH.  Fleming also said he expects all his teammates to be back next season and tweeted his teams goal is to make the NCAA tournament.  While Eran Ganot is already behind the eight ball from a recruiting standpoint, being he was hired late, knowing Fleming will be back next season is no doubt his best recruiting job yet.



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Ex-Wallace Assistant Ganot Named Hawaii Men’s Basketball Coach

eranganot

 Above photo from the Honolulu Staradvertiser

The University of Hawaii made it official today with the announcement of St. Mary’s assistant and former UH assistant coach Eran Ganot being named head basketball coach.  Ganot was a assistant at UH under Riley Wallace and Bob Nash from 2006-2010.   He has been an assistant at St. Mary’s from 2010-2015.

This is an interesting hire as many UH fans thought interim head coach Benji Taylor earned the right to get a long term contract.  He led UH to its first conference championship appearence since 2002.  He also led UH to its most wins since 2002.  What makes those accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that he was named interim coach less than a week before Hawaii’s first pre-season game in November.  He also did it without all-conference big man Issac Fotu and top recruit Sammis Reyes who both left the program after ex-coach Gib Arnold’s dismissal.

The key for Eran Ganot moving forward will be stability.  Will he be able to keep key players like Isaac Fleming from transferring?  Keeping this current roster intact will probably be Ganot’s toughest job.  If he is able to do so, the Warriors will have a chance to improve on last seasons success.



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