MWwire: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. San Diego State Aztecs Preview

MWwire: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. San Diego State Aztecs Preview

Week 9

MWwire: Hawaii Rainbow Warriors vs. San Diego State Aztecs Preview

Will Diocemy St. Juste lead Hawaii to victory against Rashaad Penny and San Diego State?


Coming off a bye, UH will look to keep SDSU down by handing them their third straight loss.


Contact/Follow @warriorboutit & @MWCwire

Preview the Rainbow Warriors’ 32nd meeting with the Aztecs.

Gameday Info:

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (3-4) vs San Diego State Aztecs (6-2) 5:15 PM HST

Location: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

TV: ESPN2

Radio: KKEA ESPN 1420 (Honolulu), KNUI 550AM (Maui), KHLO 850AM (Hilo), KKON 790AM (Kona), KTOH 99.9FM (Kauai), KNWJ 104.7FM (American Samoa), XM Radio 203 and Sirius Radio 93.

Web Video Streaming: Watch ESPN

Web Audio Streaming: ESPN 1420

Spread: Hawaii +9.5

Gameday Tidbits:

  • Saturday’s game will feature two of college football’s elite running backs: Diocemy St. Juste and Rashaad Penny. Both are 4th and 5th respectively in rushing yards per game.
  • SDSU dominates the series between the two schools with a record of 20-9-2. UH is 10-6-2 at home in this series.
  • The Rainbow Warriors have a 2-3 record in their last five meetings at Aloha Stadium.
  • Hawaii has lost five games in a row to San Diego State. All of these game have occurred once both teams were in the Mountain West Conference.

Roster Report:

UH: OUT FOR SEASON: Metuisela Unga (TE), John Ursua (WR).

SDSU: QUESTIONABLE: Myles Cheatum (DL), Grady Vasquez (FB), Ryan Pope (OL), Tayler Hawkins (CB), Temerick Harper (LB), Tyler Roemer (OL). DOUBTFUL: Antonio Rosales (OL), Damon Moore (DL). OUT FOR SEASON: Garrett Binkley (CB).

2017 Team Leaders:

Passing: Dru Brown (UH): 149-234, 1816 YDS, 13 TD, 7 INT; Christian Chapman (SDSU): 102-173, 1285 YDS, 8 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: Diocemy Saint Juste (UH): 183 CAR, 1094 YDS, 6 TD; Rashaad Penny (SDSU): 179 CAR, 1115 YDS, 10 TD

Receiving: John Ursua (UH): 47 REC, 667 YDS, 5 TD; Mikah Holder (SDSU): 29 REC, 383 YDS

Tackles: Jahlani Tavai (UH): 61 (39 SOLO) TKL; Parker Baldwin (SDSU): 51 (25 SOLO) TKL

Sacks: Meffy Koloamatangi (UH): 4 SCK; Jay Henderson (SDSU): 4 SCK

Interceptions: Daniel Lewis Jr. (UH): 1 INT; Tariq Thompson (SDSU): 3 INT

Keys to the Game:

Two weeks ago the Aztecs were sitting on top of the Mountain West Conference as the 19th ranked team in the nation. Since then, they have dropped two straight and have conceded their throne atop the West Division. It was shocking to see San Diego State lose to a struggling Boise State team and dumbfounding to witness Fresno State dominate them a week later. To preserve hope that they can compete for the MWC title, SDSU will have to take care of business in Honolulu. Here are a few things that the Rainbow Warriors can do to stop the Aztecs in their tracks:

1A) San Diego State averages 22.4 passes per game and this ranks 118th in the FBS. On the flipside, they average 41.7 rushes per game and that is the 39th highest in the FBS. It isn’t hard to imagine what the Aztec offense will look to do against the Rainbow Warriors. They thrive when their run game is going and Rashaad Penny is a big part of that. SDSU has one of the best running backs in the league in Penny who has averaged a whopping 6.2 yards per carry and has the 3rd highest rushing total on the year with 1115 yards. He also is 3rd in the nation averaging 191.3 all-purpose yards per game. If the UH defense can stop or even slow Rashaad Penny down they will force Christian Chapman to carry the team with his arm; something that he has not been able to do.

1B) In 2017, Chapman has only complete 59% of his passes and has yet to surpass 300 yards in a game this year. The closest that he has gotten to 300 yards was his 240 yards game against Boise State. The caveat being that Chapman completed just 12 passes and 89 of his passing yards (37.1%) came from one play. In both of the Aztec losses, he completed 46.8% of his passes and averaged just 158.5 yards per game; he only threw for one touchdown. Against Stanford and Air Force, Chapman was helped out a lot by Rashaad Penny and a handful of fruitful passes that ended up putting San Diego State over the top for wins in both games. I don’t want to take away too much from Chapman but it is pretty clear that the coaches do not want to be in a situation where he has to throw his way to a win.

2) The Aztecs are 16th in the nation with an 8.74% sack rate and allow a 120 passer rating per game, good for 41st best in the country. They also hold opponents to 4.2 yards per carry which is the 47th best average in the FBS. There aren’t a low of weaknesses that the San Diego State defense has. But if we look at their two losses, they allowed 5+ yards per carry. And their smallest margin of victory, three-points, came against Stanford where they average 7.9 yards per carry. Every other team that SDSU has played has scuffled when running the ball. If UH wants to win, they have to get the run game going; that will require both Diocemy St. Juste and Ryan Tuiasoa to shoulder the bulk of the offensive load. It will not be easy but especially with John Ursua out for the season, the Rainbow Warriors will need to lean on their talented running-backs more than ever.

Bottom Line:

If you asked me two weeks ago how this matchup would end, I would have giggled and said San Diego State would have killed Hawaii. That could still happen but it looks as though our favorite team stands a much better chance now. The Rainbow Warriors still need to come into the game focused because the Aztecs will be desperate to end their two-game skid.

In the end, SDSU will prove to be too much for UH. Rashaad Penny will do his thing but it will be Christian Chapman who will carry the load offensively for San Diego State. The Hawaii pass defense has been the weakest part of the team all season and that will continue here. It will remind fans a lot of Nevada game, which led to Ty Gangi, Nevada’s starting quarterback, having a career day.

On the other side of the ball, Diocemy St. Juste and Ryan Tuiasoa will have great games combining for nearly 300 yards of offense but due to Hawaii’s ineffectiveness in the red-zone, it will not be enough. The passing attack will struggle against a quality pass defense without their star receiver, John Ursua. And both the team and the fans will be left wondering what could have been if misfortune had not struck against San Jose State.

The final score will be 37-24, San Diego State. Even though a loss here would be tough to bear for the Rainbow Warriors, they still have four winnable games left. So fear not! The season will not be over no matter what happens in this game.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@warriorboutit) and get play-by-play commentary.

Last but not least Go Bows!

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