Best Hawaii Offensive Player
WR John Ursua, Jr.
Unstoppable before he suffered a season-ending knee injury, the 5-10, 175-pounder caught 47 passes for 667 yards and five scores in six games. Ultra-quick and great at getting open on the inside, he’s a terrific route-runner who should explode in the high-powered offense. Consider him a lock for 100 catches if he’s healthy and okay.
2. QB Cole McDonald, Soph.
3. OT/C Asotui Eli, Sr.
4. OG J.R. Hensley, Sr.
5. WR Cedric Byrd, Jr.
Best Hawaii Defensive Player
LB Jahlani Tavai, Sr.
One of the best all-around defensive players in the Mountain West over the last few years, the 6-4, 245-pound all-around middle linebacker from Los Angeles has amassed 308 tackles, 14.5 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss in his great career.
A tough guy who plays with his hair on fire, he’s a double-digit stop machine with 13 tackles or more in six games last season including in each of the last four. There isn’t a better open-field tackling linebacker in the conference.
2. LB Solomon Matautia, Jr.
3. CB Rojesterman Farris II, Jr.
4. DT Samiuela Akoteu, Jr.
5. CB Eugene Ford, Soph.
Key Player To A Successful Season
OT/C Asotui Eli, Sr.
The offense will have its choice of quarterbacks to see who can handle the work, and the receivers should be fine with a little bit of time. But the blocking has to be just good enough to let it all go.
Losing both starting tackles hurts, and not having John Wa’a around at guard doesn’t help. The 6-4, 285-pound versatile Eli worked for three years at center – seeing a little time at guard – and now is being tried out at tackle. For a line that needs reliable veteran blockers, Eli being one of the rocks is a must.
Key Game To The Hawaii Season
at Colorado State, Aug. 25
1992. Hawaii beat Colorado State 24-13 in 1992, and lost seven straight in the series, including a 51-21 walloping last season. This is a rebuilding year for the Rams, and Hawaii has to take advantage of that in the opener.
Colorado State won’t have seen what the new-look Rainbow Warrior offense is like, it’ll have a hard time with the run-and-shoot – at least that’s the hope.
With the next Mountain West game coming up at the end of September against San Jose State, if the offense works and the team can come up with a win, it’ll be a huge, huge boost for a coaching staff and a program that one just one conference game last season.
2017 Hawaii Fun Stats
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 87 – Hawaii 35
– Penalties: Hawaii 93 for 826 yards – Opponents 68 for 619 yards
– Field Goals: Opponents 8-for-18 – Hawaii 4-for-9