Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii 52, Middle Tennessee 35: 5 Things That Matter, What’s Next For 2017?
Hawaii rocked Middle Tennessee 52-35 in a fun Christmas Eve Hawaii Bowl. What are the 5 things that matter, and what’s next for the 2017 season for both teams?
That’s the Hawaii we all know and love
There’s still no D in Hawaii, but there’s an O in Rainbow Warriors (sorry for that).
Dru Brown picked a great time to come up with his best game of the season, completing 19-of-29 passes for 275 yards and four scores, to go along with 23 rushing and a score for an offense that ripped apart the Blue Raiders in every way possible.
Dicoemy Saint Juste ran for 170 yards, the power running game worked when needed, and the attack came up with third down conversion after third down conversion.
How do you stop the Middle Tennessee offense? Don’t let it get on the field – Hawaii held the ball for almost 37 minutes – and Brown and the O didn’t give up any …
And there’s the difference in your 2016 Hawaii Bowl.
Middle Tennessee gave it up three times, including a crucial pick-six from Trayvon Henderson, and the Rainbow Warriors didn’t give it up. There were penalties – 11 by Hawaii – but they didn’t seem to matter as much. The Blue Raiders cranked up the offense, but every time they seemed like they were doing something right, Hawaii would answer.
Richie James was Richie James with eight catches for 162 yards and a score, to go along with 52 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Brent Stockstill played through his injuries to throw for 420 yards and three scores.
But those two interceptions he threw were too much to overcome.
Hawaii isn’t back quite yet, but …
This is exactly what everyone was hoping for in the first year under head coach Nick Rolovich.
There’s still a long way to go – especially on defense – but the program got to seven wins, it won a bowl game, and it was fun again. Dru Brown appears to be the quarterback who can crank up the attack with a little more time, and now this might really and truly be the program to watch out for again in the Mountain West.
52 points in Hawaii on Christmas Eve. This is back to what the Rainbow Warriors are supposed to be doing. So …
What’s next for Hawaii in 2017?
Dru Brown is just a sophomore – he’s the quarterback of the next few years. Hawaii Bowl receiving star John Ursua is back, as is the rushing attack with Diocemy Saint Juste just a junior. The right side of the line is gone, but three starters return up front, along with the nucleus of an explosive attack.
Jahlani Tavai is a keeper at middle linebacker – he’ll be around for the next few years – along with the rest of the young linebacking corps. The front four loses just enough to need work, but there’s enough depth for a potentially decent rotation. The secondary might not be all that great, but there’s experience with three starters back.
What’s next for Middle Tennessee in 2017?
The fun should keep on going if a back can somehow replace I’Tavius Mathers. Ruben Garnett – get in there. QB Brent Stockstill and WR Richie James are back forming one of the nation’s most dangerous passing combinations. Almost all the receiving playmakers return, but the line’s a problem with three starters gone.
The defense that got ripped to shreds late in the year loses the entire front four, but most of the parts in the back seven return. Top corner Jeremy Cutrer is gone, but the entire linebacking corps is back and the safety combination of Jovante Moffatt and Darryl Randolph should be stronger.