Last week, the defense , held the innovative offense of Boise State to just 261 total yards.
"There are things we can always do better and there were three plays from the Boise State game that we could have executed better," said Kyle Van Noy. "So, we're not the number one defense in the nation yet but we want to be and that's what we're working towards."
Hawaii's offense is in for a tall order when they match up against the Cougar defense. The last time Chow was in LaVell Edwards Stadium, he was calling plays for Utah, and the Utes hung 54 points on BYU (although they scored a lot of points off of turnovers). The Cougar defense will look for some payback.
"They have Norm Chow as the offensive coordinator, so their offense is like Utah's last year and have more of a traditional offense," said Romney Fuga. "I always forget that Norm Chow was the offensive coordinator here at one time. They use the tight end and fullback in a power set, so they're more of a traditional offense and that's what we're preparing for."
"Yeah, Norm Chow is the offensive coordinator but we're going to take the same approach that we've taken every week," said Preston Hadley. "Our guys up front will take care of the run game and when it's our chance to make plays in the secondary, we'll make those plays for our team. We can't give up big plays."
Fuga is eager to play Hawaii because of the offense that the Warriors run.
"Usually when we face heavy passing teams I go out and we bring in another defensive back," Fuga said. "This game will be a little more fun for me because I'll get to play more. They run more of that traditional offense with the fullback and tight end so they can run the ball more. That's good for me and means I'll have more plays in the game."
"They've got guys that can play and can go out and execute their offense," Hadley said. "I don't they're anything that we haven't faced already, so we're just mainly focusing on the scheme of things and what they like to run on certain situations. We'll just go out and play our game."
Last season, the Cougars faced two different quarterbacks in their game against Hawaii. This year they will face a different quarterback in 6-foot-3-inch, 200-pound Sean Schroeder.
"Hawaii's quarterback isn't as mobile as other Hawaiian quarterbacks that we've faced in the past," Fuga said. "In the past we've faced some really mobile quarterbacks, but their quarterback now doesn't run as much. He'll look to make the passes downfield more."
Against USC, Schroeder completed 24 of 39 passes for 208 yards. Against Lamar he completed 15 of 23 for 150 yards, and last week against Nevada he completed 22 of 40 for 234 yards.
"Even though their quarterback will move around or stay in the pocket and pass the ball downfield, they're a little more balanced this year with the run," Fuga said. "So, they'll look to run the ball more like a more traditional Norm Chow offense to set up the pass, but that's good for me because that means I get to play more."
One reason why Coach Chow moves Schroeder around is because the Hawaii offensive line is a bit suspect. Nevada recorded four sacks and five tackles for a loss. Lamar recorded three tackles for a loss, while USC recorded 12 tackles for a loss and five sacks.
"They're pretty big guys up front with their offensive line," said Fuga. "They're not really tall like our offensive line but they're pretty stout."
Left tackle is played by 6-foot-5-inch, 295-pound Blake Muir, who is a freshman from Sutherland, Australia. He'll have the task of holding Kyle Van Noy in check, a tall order for any experienced tackle, let alone a freshman.
Left guard will be played by 6-foot-4-inch, 315-pound junior Utah transfer Kapua Sai, who might be one of their better players in the trenches. Sai was an All-Poly Camp MVP in 2006-07 and was rated by ESPN as the 13th best guard in the nation as a high school recruit. He'll be matched up against BYU rising defensive star Ezekiel Ansah, who has been given the go to start in place of an injured Eathyn Manumaleuna.
The center position will be played by 6-foot-3-inch, 275-pound true freshman Ben Clarke, who will face Fuga.
Right guard will be manned by 6-foot-3-inch, 305-pound sophomore Dave Lefotu, who started in seven games last season. Lefotu will match up with senior Cougar tackle Russell Tialavea.
Right tackle will be 6-foot-4-inch, 305-pound sophomore Sean Shigematsu, who has a combined five games worth of starting experience over two years. He'll have the task of keeping outside linebacker Spencer Hadley out of the Hawaiian backfield.
Hawaii's offensive line is young and vulnerable. With that being said, Coach Chow will move Schroeder outside the pocket to buy time and allow his receivers to find gaps in the defensive coverage.
"We've been looking at their route concepts and we know they like to get their quarterback outside the pocket to get him some throws on the run," said Hadley. "We have to contain him. I don't think he's more athletic than anyone we've already faced, but they do like to block it up and get him outside to get him some easy throws."
Nevertheless, don't expect Hawaii to air it out like in years past.
"We have to stop the run because we feel they're going to try and run the ball more than they've done in the past," Fuga said. "That's one thing we have to do first is stop the run and force them to become one-dimensional."
"For us as a secondary, we have to know our gap for the run and not give up the big play," Hadley said. "We have to know when to fill that gap and fill it effectively in run support when they do run the ball."
Having watched film in preparation for Friday's game, members of the Cougar defense see a real opportunity to do something they didn't do during Boise State: create turnovers.
"We feel we can stop the run and force them to pass the ball more and allow our secondary to win the turnover battle," said Fuga. "I think this game we can do that and come up with a couple of pick sixes from our secondary. The last couple of games we haven't had the turnovers that we've wanted, so this game we have to change that."
"I don't think there's any excuse for us not creating turnovers," said Hadley. "I just think we're not playing hard enough and not being in the right spot at the right time, but we have to be prepared for anything. If they're going to play conservative we'll be ready, and if they're going to take shots and be aggressive, we'll be the same thing."