(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.