Today, we’re 99 days away from the kickoff of the 2012 college football season. As such, we’ll review the No. 99 team in our Rant Sports 100 in 100 college football previews, the Hawaii Warriors.
After an extensive career in both professional and college football on the mainland, native son Norm Chow returns to the island to lead the Hawaii Warriors into the 2012 season. The head coaching position will be Chow’s first in his extensive career, and the challenge to be competitive and successful will be a substantial one coming off of a 6-7 finish in 2011.
The loss of do-it-all quarterback Bryant Muniz who lost most of his senior season in 2011 would put a damper on most programs, but as always seems to be the case with Hawaii there is another prolific quarterback to turn to. Junior signal caller David Graves promises to begin the season as the starter and should have some nice weapons with which to work.
Two of the Warriors’ top three wide receiving options, Billy Ray Stutzmann and Jeremiah Ostrowski return this fall and will more than likely emerge as the primary options for Graves in a passing game which promises to be the focus of Norm Chow’s game-plan.
The run game, however, is a primary concern. Hawaii will depend on either Joey Iosefa or or Sterling Jackson to step up and be a threat, more than anything, to act as decoys to enable the passing game to be the success it must be for Hawaii to be competitive.
In short, David Graves’ success will mean a great deal for Norm Chow as he tries to craft an offense so heavily focused on the pass.
The Warriors gave up a total of 5,036 yards of total offense, an average of 387.4 per game in 2011 which overall isn’t a bad number for a team that finished below .500 for the season. The Warriors do, however, lose their two top tacklers Corey Paredes and Aaron Brown, who combined for over 200 tackles between them last season.
The unit again promises to be aggressive by nature and will have strong leadership behind them as new Defensive Coordinator Thom Kaumeyer takes the reins. The loss of Paredes and Brown will force several underclassmen to step up and fill greater roles, including linebacker Art Laurel, who recorded 53 tackles in 2011 several of which were for a loss.
Hawaii’s 2012 schedule– especially in the early-going– is far from daunting and should allow the Warriors to get off to a strong start. Home games against Lamar, New Mexico, and Nevada are punctuated by a road opener against USC and other road tests against a BYU team that promises to be tough as always and San Diego State.
It’s reasonable to assume Norm Chow can get the Warriors back to a bowl in 2012, but an 8 or 9 win season probably isn’t in the cards.