With a new season comes fresh expectations and at the University of Hawaii, they certainly have transformed the Warrior football squad with a new look. Can visions of bowl games be in their near future?
The run-and-shoot has been scrapped after a decade and a half of throwing the ball almost every down. New head coach Norm Chow comes home with his first head coaching job after over 40 years of being a very successful assistant. Chow has installed a pro-set type offense that will be much more balanced than in years past. With all these changes, can Hawaii truly make a bowl game in 2012?
Are there six wins out there?
First, there is some talent left over from 2011 along with several transfers. The wide receiving corps, left over from the run-and-shoot days, will be the best unit on offense. On defense, the secondary may end up being the best unit on the entire team but the front seven also looks good.
Both the offensive and defensive lines are questionable although they've both looked good during fall camp. But will this translate into wins and a shot at a bowl?
11 winnable games
It may be debatable but if you look closely at the schedule, except for the first game of the year at USC, every game the Warriors play this year is winnable. Hawaii always plays well at home so even though Nevada and Boise State would be heavy favorites, they will have to visit Aloha Stadium and that gives the Warriors a chance at victories. Yes, I know Boise State will still be a solid favorite (see related articles), but you never know.
Hawaii doesn't play particularly well on the road so games at BYU, San Diego State, Fresno State and Air Force will be tough. BYU and Air Force will probably be the most difficult.
To be candid and straightforward, here's where the losses will come from for the Warriors in 2012. The USC game isn't honestly a game that can be won. Boise State and BYU would be huge upsets for wins so they go in the loss column. Hawaii has the talent to beat the Air Force but a late season night game on the road in the cold thin air isn't likely to produce a good outcome for the Warriors (see related articles). So there are four losses.
Home games with Lamar, New Mexico, UNLV and South Alabama should be wins. That leaves the team with four wins and four losses, so here are the swing games. The first one is Nevada at Aloha Stadium as the third contest of the year. Hawaii's fifth game is on the road at San Diego State and that's followed up two games later with back-to-back road battles with Colorado State and Fresno State.
Colorado State is the only competitor where the Warriors could truly say they have more talent and that will translate into a win. So now, back to Nevada, San Diego State and Fresno State. Nevada looks like they have a good team and should be favored but, historically, Nevada never plays well in Honolulu. Minor as it may be, I see an early season upset in favor of Hawaii. The San Diego State and Fresno State games are each on the backside of a two-game road trip and as in the past, the Warriors play poorly, so let's concede defeat for matters of practicality.
If you're not keeping track, in total, Hawaii ends up 6-6 - that qualifies them for the Hawaii Bowl. The four aforementioned swing games are key. If the Warriors can split them, they probably go bowling.
When you look at the schedule, there are four games in a row to start the second half of the season of which three are on the road. At Colorado State and Fresno State, followed by a home game with Boise State and then back on the road to visit the Air Force. It will be critical that Hawaii stays together as a team and if they could grab a win or two during this stretch, it would say a lot about coach Chow and how he prepared his team.
It won't be easy but it looks like the men of Manoa will be in a bowl game after a year off in 2011. And it should be noted that 2011 didn't end well with four losses in their last five games. That's what the Warriors will have to contend with - not repeating last year's second half collapse.
Again, keep an eye on the Warriors third game at home against Nevada on September 22. If Hawaii wins, it bodes well for the rest of the year.
Sources - University of Hawaii
Through thick and thin, Daryle has been a huge fan of college football as well as Hawaii, visiting there as a second home for over 40 years. Go 'Bows!