Climbing Back to the Top

Greg McMackin enters his third season in Honolulu and increasingly, Hawai'i will begin to look like his team and not that of his predecessor June Jones. McMackin kept the run-and-shoot offense in place, but he knows that rebuilding the offensive line is of the highest priority.

Hawai'i went on a four-game winning streak at the end of the 2009 season and it is that achievement that has the locals excited about the upcoming season.  

Coach Greg McMackin enters his third season on the islands with a 13-14 record.  He has promoted popular former Warrior quarterback Nick Rolovich as his offensive coordinator and tabbed Dave Aranda as the new defensive coordinator.  

Hawai'i finished in the top three nationally in passing last season (337 yards a game) for the 10th time in 11 years.  Junior Bryant Moniz (6-0, 190) returns at quarterback to try to continue that amazing streak.   Moniz was a transfer out of Fresno City College who got his opportunity due to injuries and ineffectiveness of the quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart.  Moniz connected on 182 of 319 attempts in 2009 for 2,396 yards and 14 touchdowns.    

Shane Austin (6-0, 200, Jr.) saw limited action last year but he did throw for 299 yards against San Jose State .   Brent Rausch (6-4, 180) will challenge for the backup spot—he threw for 2,653 yards and tossed 28 touchdowns in JC ball.   

Honolulu has built a reputation for fleet receivers that simply make plays.  This year, Hawai'i features All-Conference selection Greg Salas (106 catches last year for 1,590 yards and eight touchdowns), Kealoha Pilares (66 for 690 and four TD's) and Rodney Bradley, who averaged 18.5 yards per catch until a broken leg sidelined him last year.     

Salas is a big target (6-2, 200, Sr.) who is deadly after the catch. He exploded for 16 catches and 196 receiving yards against New Mexico State last year.  Pilares (5-11, 200, Sr.) will work from the "Y" or the outside "X" spot.  He was Hawai'i 's leading rusher as a slotback in 2007 with 388 yards before being converted to a receiver.  Pilares is lightning quick and hauled in 13 passes for 146 yards last year against UNLV.  Bradley (6-0, 190) lit up UNLV's secondary for 189 yards on eight catches and ripped up Washington State for 157 yards on seven receptions.  Bradley chose Hawai'i over Arizona and could be a huge factor if he stays healthy.  Bradley will start at the outside "X" position.  

Junior Royce Pollard (6-0, 175) will see action at the inside "Z" position.  Pollard caught 15 passes last season, has great speed and an incredible vertical leap.  After missing most of last year with a leg injury, look for more production from Pollard this fall.  Also look for junior Joe Avery (6-5, 180), who can cause real damage because of his speed, jumping ability and the matchup problems he presents. JC transfer Darius Bright (6-5, 225) gives Moniz a big physical target with deep speed and local product Billy Ray Stutzmann (6-0, 165) is smart and very quick as well as a Hawai'i state champion sprinter.  

In Hawai'i 's run and shoot offense, the running back doesn't have to gain 1,000 yards—his job is to keep defenses honest and be able to get five yards when the coaches need him to.  Senior Alex Green (6-2, 220) fills that bill, picking up 453 yards on 86 carries last year.  Green is a bruiser that gets to the line quickly and suits the Hawai'i offense nicely.  

Rolovich must rebuild his offensive line that lost four players, including the consistent four-year starter John Estes at center.  Junior Matagisila Lefiti (6-0, 280) looks to inherit that position.  Lefiti has seen action at guard and can move well and possesses a great frame.   

Brett Leonard was recruited from the JC ranks and is ready to step in at left guard.  Leonard (6-5, 310) has the beef and toughness to lead the ground game.  Senior Adrian Thomas (6-6, 300) gets a look at right guard for Hawai'i .  Junior Austin Hansen (6-4, 285) and senior Laupepa Letuli (6-4, 310) are expected to start at the tackles.  Hansen surprised with his play over the last eight games of the season at right tackle.  He will move over to the left side to protect Moniz's blind side.  Letuli (6-4, 310) was granted a sixth year of eligibility after suffering a season-ending knee injury in game four.  Letuli excels at run-blocking.   

Big things are expected from Oahu native Chauncy Winchester-Makanai.  The 6-4, 330-pound redshirt freshman is the future of the Hawai'i line and could see playing time as early as this year.  Another young prospect with high hopes is David Lefotu (6-4, 290).  He too could have played in the Pac-10 and will likely start out on the depth chart as a tackle.  Frank Loyd (6-5, 275) is another top recruit that just needs to add some weight.   

With untested upperclassmen and promising youngsters, look for a lot of shifting in the starting five.  Rolovich doesn't have the proven pass-blocking going into the season that he would like to keep the high-powered offense firing on all cylinders. The raw ability and talent is certainly there and "Rolo" will go with the best five.  The Warriors have allowed 128 sacks over the last three seasons, mostly because defenses know what is coming but also because the line hasn't been as steady as they were in 2008.  Hawai'i knows that they have to rebuild the unit to a position of strength.

Seven starters return on defense, led by defensive tackle Vaughn Meatoga and safeties Mana Silva and Spencer Smith.  Meatoga (6-2, 290, Jr.) is quick and tough but just needs to work on consistency.  He will be joined by Haku Correa (6-1, 290, So.) at tackle while Elliott Purcell (6-3, 250, Sr.) and either Liko Satale (6-2, 260) or Paipai Falemalu (6-3, 230, So.) look to start at the end positions.  Purcell, who blossomed into a starter with 30 stops last season, is being counted on for a big year.  

 Sophomore Geordon Hanohano (6-2, 300) was one of the prized recruits in the class of 2008 and he has the size to stop the run in the middle.  For now, he will back up Meatoga.  Kaniela Tuipulotu (6-2, 300, Jr.) is another player that could be a factor for the Warriors.  A native of Maui , Tuipulotu started seven games at nose tackle for Arizona before transferring closer to home.   

Silva (6-1, 220, Sr.) had a league-high six interceptions and was fourth on the defense with 74 tackles despite missing four games with an injury.  Silva, who started his career at Oregon State , is a sure tackler with great range and athleticism.  Smith (5-11, 205, Sr.) recorded 77 tackles and broke up seven passes from his free safety position.  Smith is a versatile tough hitter that could be moved where needed.  Junior Richard Torres (5-8, 175) is another good tackler and tough for his size.  Torres started four games at free safety and finished with 44 tackles and an interception.  Torres will see action in nickel situations and provides good backup.     

 Seniors Lemetrius Davis (6-0, 190) and Jeramy Bryant (5-10, 180) are set to go at cornerback.  Bryant came to the islands as a top JC prospect and finished with 45 tackles and five pass breakups.  The Warriors coaches look for him to be more aggressive in his pass coverage.  

The entire starting linebacking unit must be replaced.  Converted safety Aaron Brown hopes to earn a spot there.  Paipai Falemalu (6-3, 230, So.) saw action in nearly every game last year at defensive end.  He made 20 tackles with two sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss.  Coaches expect Falemalu to use his speed to wreak havoc starting farther back.  The job at middle backer may be George Daily-Lyles' to lose.  Daily-Lyles has a great frame (5-11, 230) and shows great tackling ability.  Juniors Aaron Brown (6-1, 205), Jake Heun (6-2, 240) and Parker Paredes (5-11, 235) also will battle for the three starting jobs.  

Scott Enos will handle placekicking duties this fall with sophomore Alex Dunnachie (6-3, 235) slated to do the punting.  Enos connected on 12 of 19 field goal attempts including a season-long 47 yarder vs. UNLV.    Dunnachle averaged 39.2 yards per kick last season and placed 10 boots inside the 20.  The sophomore worked in concert with his coverage team to allow just 1.7 yards per return.  

Hawai'i could bounce back to a bowl game this year but they will have to have a strong start.  The Warriors entertain NCAA-sanctioned USC in the season opener along with home games against Charleston Southern and UNLV and consecutive road tilts at Army and Colorado .  All of those are winnable, including the game with USC.  The Trojans have been battered this off-season both with the penalties and defections and may be vulnerable.

In the WAC, Hawai'i hosts Louisiana Tech, Nevada , Idaho and San Jose State .  In turn, they must travel to Boise State , Fresno State and Utah State (three of the league's top teams) as well as to New Mexico State . 

 

2010 Schedule Sept. 2 USC
Sept. 11 at Army
Sept. 18 at
Colorado
Sept. 25
Charleston South.
Oct. 2 Louisiana Tech
Oct. 9 at Fresno State
Oct. 16 Nevada
Oct. 23 at Utah State
Oct. 30 Idaho
Nov. 6 at Boise State
Nov. 13 OPEN DATE
Nov. 20 San Jose St
Nov. 27 at New Mexico St
Dec. 4 UNLV

 

 

 


Bronco Country Top Stories