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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Behind enemy lines: Hawaii edition

Courtesy UH Sports Media Relations

Hawai’i quarterback Ikaika Woolsey attempts a pass versus University of Tennessee-Martin at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii on Saturday, Sept. 10. Hawai’i will take on the Arizona Wildcats in the last non-conference game for both teams. 

Arizona had a scare in the first half against Grambling State last Saturday, and to end the non-conference schedule with another potential nail-biter, the Wildcats will host the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on  Saturday at 7:45 p.m. 

The Wildcats are the second Pac-12 Conference team the Warriors will face this season, and both teams are coming off home wins. Arizona and Hawaii will both be aching for their second win of the season Saturday. The Daily Wildcat went off the big island of Arizona and got insight from the folks 2,875 miles away at the Ka Leo O Hawaii student newspaper. We spoke with Associate Sports Editor Christian Shimabuku about his predictions for this weekend.

DW: Hawaii has a fairly brutal non-conference schedule. What are some positive takeaways that could lift the Warriors over Arizona in upset fashion? 

CS: The Rainbow Warriors are still relatively healthy. After a two-week gauntlet of facing California in Australia and then Michigan at the Big House a week later, none of the ‘Bows have suffered a major injury. That in itself is a positive and they should come into Tucson at full strength. 

As is the case with most first-year head coaches, the team is very much a work in progress under Nick Rolovich. Though still sloppy, the offense seems to be ahead of the defense at this point. 

The UH put up 31 points against California and 41 against Tennessee-Martin. The defense has struggled with tackling and has had a tendency to give up huge plays on third down this season. 

It has given up 50 points per game so far, which is 126th out of 128 FBS teams. If the Rainbow Warriors want any chance at winning, they’re going to need to clean things up on both sides of the ball and hope for Arizona to make some mistakes.

Head coach Nick Rolovich replaced Norm Chow as head coach this season. What is a highlight that gives the program promise moving forward? 

Rolovich and Chow are almost polar opposites. Rolovich was 36 years old when he was hired. Chow was 65. Rolovich is a UH alum, Chow is not. Rolovich runs a hybrid run-and-shoot and read option offense while Chow had a very traditional pro-style scheme.  

Rolovich is very invested in team morale and has taken measures to reach out to the community as well. Some of these [measures] include awarding his players scholarships via a diving board on one occasion and a koala in Australia on another, as well as a campus-wide Pokémon Go hunt with fans. 

Rolovich is a breath of fresh of air from the Chow era and has received a large amount of support from the local community thus far. 

Arizona is expected to do their own version of the traditional Maori war dance, or haka, before the game. Will Hawaii do a pre-game haka? What makes the dance so special?

Hawaii has dabbled with different variations of hakas over the years. Last Saturday, the ‘Bows debuted a Hawaiian haka composed by olohe lua Tom Kaulukukui, Kyle Nakanelua and Ke’eaumoku Kapu. 

I’ve been told that they wanted to do it in Australia but they felt they weren’t ready, especially with so many rugby players in attendance.

What are your predictions for the flow of the game, standout player for the Warriors and final score on Saturday?

That’s the key word for the Rainbow Warriors: flow. The offense needs to do that throughout the game if it wants to stay competitive. 

Senior quarterback Ikaika Woolsey was named the starter before the season but has been very inconsistent. 

With five interceptions through three games and a 50.8 completion percentage, he’s on a short leash and could yield to sophomore Dru Brown if he doesn’t perform. One name to watch is senior wideout Marcus Kemp, who has bailed the ‘Bows out multiple times with his big-play ability. So far, he has 12 receptions for 272 yards and four touchdowns.  

I think the ‘Bows will beat the spread but not Arizona’s offense. Arizona 31, Hawaii 13.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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