There’s not a lot one can say good about the 2013 college football season if you’re a University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors fan. 0-6 will never look like anything more than, well, like any 0-6 winless season. Let’s just say there have been happier times in the Hawaiian Islands.
Still, half the season remains and after a bye week to rest up following a heart-wrenching loss to UNLV on the road, the Norm Chow led team hopefully is ready to play Saturday night against the Colorado State Rams. It’s not like Hawaii hasn’t had chances at wins. They had #13 Fresno State reeling with a furious comeback that saw the Warriors score 34 unanswered points in the second half before being intercepted at the end of the game, losing 42-37. Actually, in none of their games this season has Hawaii been easily beaten. However, close doesn’t count in football.
So that brings us to the current opponent for the Warriors, Colorado State. They, like Hawaii, are in a rebuilding mode and so far in their second season under head coach Jim McElwain, it appears they are improving with a 3-4 record heading into their gridiron battle with the Warriors. The Rams had three straight 3-9 seasons in Fort Collins from 2009-2011 before McElwain came aboard. In his first season as a head coach, Colorado State went 4-8 and it would seem they will best that record in 2013.
They are coming off a rousing victory over rival Wyoming in Laramie, dominating a Cowboy team that looked like a title contender. The Rams have a balanced attack on offense that really had a coming out party against the Cowboys – especially the running game that gained almost 300 yards last week.
Their defense was suspect this season but they kept high-flying Wyoming from ever getting their excellent passing attack going. There are those in Colorado that think Colorado State may be ready as a bowl team. Regardless, there are weaknesses and the Warriors are prepared to attack those vulnerable areas.
A typical disadvantage for any team coming to the islands is the travel; and certainly coming from the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains plus halfway across the Pacific, without doubt lends itself to a travel hardship. When combined with the fact that the Rams were on the road last week in Wyoming, it offers support to the thought that Colorado State may be road weary. And to add to the long travel concern, the Rams haven’t been a good road team.
Also keep an eye on another area of worry for Colorado State, which is they’ve been susceptible to big plays, something Hawaii appears to be thriving on.
Senior quarterback Sean Schroeder has done an admirable job coming off the bench for injured starter Taylor Graham, although it looks like Graham will resume his spot after a shoulder injury kept him on the bench. Redshirt freshman Ikaika Woolsey has also played significant minutes behind center but hasn’t shown his potential yet. The men of Manoa have a Top 25 passing game nationally but ironically, it’s not known who will start at QB.
Running back is another sore subject in Honolulu with injuries decimating a run game that Chow had hoped would lead them back to respectability. However, the Warriors wide receiving corps is still as good as any, thanks to their days of run-and-shoot before Chow took over.
Hawaii’s defense needs to be as good as they were thought to be when the year began. They do a good job of creating turnovers but they ranked in the bottom 10 nationally against the run … an area the Rams are quite good at.
The leading question of this story is: Can Hawaii win their first game of the season? This contest appears to be fairly even so the short answer is yes. However, the Warriors will have to reduce mistakes if they want to claim their first victory of 2013. Expect this game to be decided by a late score.
After this game against Colorado State, the Warriors are back on the road for awhile as they first play Utah State in Logan and then travel to the East Coast and Annapolis, Maryland, to take on the Naval Academy. By the way, Navy’s head coach is Ken Niumatololo who was born, raised and played at Hawaii. The Midshipmen are struggling to stay eligible for a postseason bowl trip.
There are more chances for the Warriors to win a game this year but this contest against the Colorado State Rams is as good as it may get for any chance of a victory in 2013.
Sources: Colorado State University, University of Hawaii