Hawaii Should Be Defenseless

Hawaii's bringing the masterminds of the Run-and-Shoot, their rifle-armed quarterback, linemen like Samson and Hercules (we kid you not), a gaggle of fleet-footed receivers starring Davone Bess, former Grits Blitz mastermind Jerry Glanville, a 300-plus pound running back, and -- we hear -- their shirtless, drum-pounding, massive Warrior mascot.

You remember the same kind of guy who chest bumped hulking Ahmaad Childress in 2003?

Will Alabama be ready?

They better be.

This is no run of the mill opener in the South Florida or Middle Tennessee State vein, despite what the oddsmakers say. They have installed Alabama as a 17-point favorite on the betting line. Alabama should be able to post huge offensive numbers, but Hawaii's explosiveness is of more than mild concern.

What's fascinating about this game is that it immediately pits some of Alabama's biggest offseason concerns -- depth on the defensive front seven, question marks in a revamped secondary -- against a team that is more than capable of exploiting those areas.

This Crimson Tide defense will have to shape its own identity, following in the footsteps of two units that both ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense. You get the sense from talking to coordinator Joe Kines and the rest of his staff that they're encouraged by the development of their linebackers and their defensive backs, who will get in all the running they want and then some against the Warriors.

Before camp started, I held the opinion that this game would scare the bejeeburs out of Alabama fans because I saw no way the Crimson Tide would hold Hawaii to less than four touchdowns. Now I'm having second thoughts about that line of thinking.

I liked what I saw from the Alabama secondary and most of what I saw from the linebacking corps during camp. I have a hard time believing the Warriors will be able to break free for long-distance scores, as they did to some degree in their 37-28 win over Alabama in 2003.

I don't think Hawaii will score 28 points, but I think they probably will be in the 20s.

Another advantage to the Crimson Tide: they should be able to gash the Warriors on the ground. Eight teams rushed for at least 170 yards on Hawaii last season, including 327 yards by Louisiana Tech. The modest over-under rushing total for Alabama in this game is 250 yards.

And let's don't discount what Alabama's passing game is capable of against a Hawaii team that ranked No. 108 in pass efficiency defense a year ago.

John Parker Wilson's play as the frontline quarterback with not much of a safety net has been extremely impressive in camp.

The sophomore from Hoover has moved nimbly around and out of the pocket, has thrown well on the run and is already showing some flair as a guy who could make game-changing plays instead of one who is just trying to avoid making bad plays.

Wilson and his top two wideouts, DJ Hall and Keith Brown, could put up some gaudy numbers in this game.

And one of the greatest advantages of all for the Crimson Tide in this game is that it'll be played at Bryant-Denny Stadium. That festive, Hang Ten attitude with the drums and the Pacific air and the beautiful green landscapes will be thousands of miles away for the Warriors. Hawaii is nowhere near as formidable away from Aloha Stadium.

We'll save our more acute observations for the rest of Alabama's brutal schedule for later. For next week's game, if Alabama is arming itself for a run at the SEC West title, it should be able to put away a defenseless Hawaii team at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Editor's Note:Thomas Murphy is the Alabama beat writer for the Mobile Register. He writes a weekly column for BamaMag.com.


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