When head coach Greg McMackin was let go after last season's losing record, native son Norm Chow was hired to rebuild the University of Hawaii Warriors football program. Chow then brought in a new pro-set offense, while doing away with the 'run-and-shoot' that June Jones first installed in the late '90s.
The run-and-shoot actually didn't have anything to do with running but rather it was a throwing offense. The Warriors put up big numbers while giving up a lot, too. Those days are gone … or at least insofar as throwing almost every down.
There will be more balance in the Hawaii attack and with that obviously comes a running game and often a two-back set. But to emphasize the running game, you need multiple running backs. Here's a look at those who might see a little or a lot of playing time in the backfield.
The leading contender to see more playing than any other running back period is 6" 240 pound redshirt sophomore Joey Iosefa who was the starter last season in the one-back run-and-shoot offense. This year, you might see him play both tailback and fullback as he can do both very well.
6" 220 pound fifth-year senior Sterling Jackson is back healthy and if he can stay in good physical shape, he has the talent to start. Will Gregory is a 6" 190 pound redshirt freshman who is very athletic and having a great fall camp so far. True freshman Steven Lakalaka, arguably the best running back coming out of the state of Hawaii this past year, is 5'10" 215 pounds and has had a somewhat surprising fall camp.
As mentioned earlier, Iosefa will play a lot of fullback as well as tailback because of his overall talents.
But with that said, there are more than a couple of players vying for the fullback spot. 6" 210 pound redshirt sophomore John Lister has been playing very solid throughout spring and fall practice. Jared Leaf is a 6'1" 230 pound redshirt freshman who gives the team a big back that is also athletic. Originally a defensive lineman, Justin Vele gives the Warriors another big back at 6' 240 pounds. Also, incoming freshman Ethan Watanabe played tight end in high school but the 6'3" 260 pounder may see action at fullback.
Ideally, Iosefa would play most downs and be paired with Jackson or Gregory; otherwise, Iosefa will be the tailback with either Lister or Leaf at fullback. Keep an eye on Gregory as he has shown flashes of brilliance and could be special. There are a lot of options Hawaii can use and except for maybe Gregory, almost all the players are interchangeable at tailback or fullback.
Now if the men of Manoa could do something about their offensive line, they ...
Sources - University of Hawaii
Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of Hawaii since visiting there 40 years ago and dozens of times since. Go 'Bows!
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