THE EARLY LOOK: Week 2 vs. Hawaii

THE HAWAII TEAM that Oregon State faces in Week 2 will barely resemble the UH teams OSU has played in recent years. Those teams may not have always won, but they beat you up and gave you plenty of bruises to remember them by. This season feels completely different. And you know things are bad when a coach-reporter feud is a bigger story than what the team did in the spring.

Norm Chow opened spring practice this year by yelling that a reporter was not welcome and then abruptly ended all interviews for the day. Chow was angry about a column written months earlier that was critical of his decision to hire Kevin Clune as defensive coordinator. Chow later issued an apology.

But Chow needs all the goodwill he can get, media and otherwise, heading into a hot seat season after compiling a 4-20 record his first two campaigns at Hawaii.

Clune, by the way, looks like an upgrade from this chair. He's had success in the MWC at Utah State and he's likely to employ a system that fits the personnel, an attacking 3-4 defense that will also be multiple.

And change was needed. Only once in 2013 did Hawaii hold an opponent under 30 points. Against Wyoming, the defense gave up 59 points and a nauseating 793 yards of offense.

Although head coach Norm Chow has not officially named sophomore Ikaika Woolsey as the starting quarterback, Woolsey looks to be the guy. But Hawaii is probably going to live and die with the run.

A re-dedication to the ground game in the last four games resulted in 789 yards on 188 carries. Before that, UH had 586 yards on 240 touches. Joey Iosefa, a senior, is expected to be the bellcow here.

Senior Scott Harding (56 receptions for 631 yards) also returns punts and Utah transfer Quinton Pedroza will be asked to produce, thereby taking some pressure off Harding.

The offensive line is led by junior center Ben Clarke, and he's a good one. The remainder, all seniors, have underwhelmed to this stage. There's reason to believe they'll be better, but it's asking a lot to expect them to be monumentally better.

THE DEFENSE IS where the main concerns lie.

Senior Beau Yap (37 tackles, 5.5 sacks) will play both outside linebacker and hand-down defensive end, but there just aren't many playmakers in the front seven. They're big, but they're not fast and they're not productive.

The secondary will be young - Hawaii loses both starting safeties and cornerback was said to be decidedly mixed this spring. UH seems to be counting on six DBs signed this past recruiting class and when you're putting that much stock into first-year players joining a team, well, Sean Mannion and crew are undoubtedly excited to go up against them.

Hawaii and Chow are on the precipice, and a shellacking by Oregon State could pretty much seal his fate and point towards another double-digit loss season.

There are loads of problems at Hawaii -- talent and coaching among them. But the biggest is that the players are feeling the heat and turmoil surrounding the program. Once that happens, once a free-for-all on the coach begins, that's when he can lose his team.

Hawaii needs to keep it close vs. Oregon State to stem that tide. From this chair, it's hard to see that happening.

And from Oregon State's perspective, anything less than a three-touchdown victory is going to feel more like a minor setback than a win.

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