Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt: Game Preview, How To Watch, Stream, Odds

Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt: Game Preview, How To Watch, Stream, Odds

Warriors travel to the SEC

Contact/Follow @MWCwire

Can’t be worse than last year.

On August 8th the town of Lahaina, Maui was destroyed by the most devastating and deadly wildfire in American history. As of today there have been 115 confirmed deaths with over 1000 people still unaccounted for. The typical jovial island vibes have been replaced with a heavy feeling of sorrow, frustration and at times helplessness.

We’ve seen the rest of the state rally, show the true meaning of Aloha and come together to help the West Maui community. It is an inspiring and beautiful result of a terrible disaster but there is still so much that needs to be done. We have our rivalries here in the Mountain West, but I would consider us friendly rivals and this is bigger than football.

If you find it in your heart to help the people of Maui, here are some links to trusted fundraising efforts that will actually get the funds into the hands of the people who need it the most. Mahalo for your consideration. #KeepLahainaLandsInLahainaHands 

You can donate to Maui Strong or the Hawaiian Way Fund

You can also donate directly to families affected through this verified instagram @Lahaina_Ohana_Venmo or donate to Ilima-Lei McFarlane’s (Bellator MMA fighter) foundation @ilimanator 

Last season, the Vanderbilt Commodores rolled into Manoa and spoiled the debut of Head Coach Timmy Chang on their way to a dominant 63-10 victory. This year, the Warriors hit the road and head to Nashville to open the 2023 season. The Bows look to improve on a 3-10 season and one bright spot to the 2022 record is that four of the losses were one score games.

A couple more third downs converted, a few less tackles missed and maybe a couple more games go their way. The Warriors return an experienced and aggressive defense, but the buzz around town is the return of the Run and Shoot offense. There aren’t too many people on this planet that know this offense better than Coach Chang and he’ll be calling the plays this season. I expect the offense to take a big step forward.


Game: Hawaii at Vanderbilt
Where: Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego, California
TV: SEC Network, 7:30 p.m. ET
Streaming: Fubo TV with a free trial
Radio: Hawaii ESPN 1420
Series record: 1-0 Vanderbilt Leads |
Game Notes: Hawaii | Vanderbilt
Odds: Vanderbuilt -17

Vanderbilt Offense vs Hawaii Defense

In last year’s season opening blowout, it was the Mike Wright show leading the Commodores offensive attack. The Quarterback threw for two touchdowns and ran for 163 yards and two more scores on the ground. Wright has since transferred to Mississippi State after losing the job midseason to AJ Swann. Swann took the reins of the offense last season and ended the year with 1274 yards, 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions with a 58% completion percentage. Although he went 1-7 as a starter, it is important to note that four of those losses were against top ten teams (Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Ole Miss).

Swann is not the runner that Wright was, but the strength of this year’s Commodore offense will be the passing game. Senior wide receiver Will Sheppard is poised to have a huge year after a breakout junior year where he posted 60 catches, 776 yards and 9 touchdowns. Reports say he’s been unguardable throughout camp.

He’ll be complemented out wide by Junior Quincy Skinner Jr. and speedy sophomore Jayden McGowan will start in the slot. Both have starting experience and showed enough flashes where the position group as a whole is seen as the strength of the team. Last year’s starting running back Ray Davis transferred to Kentucky after a solid year and it seems like the Commodores will take a committee approach to replacing him.

Watch college football all season long on ESPN+

Patrick Smith, who had a promising freshman season in 2021 before being suspended for four games during the 2022 season is listed as the starter, but Chase Gillespie and Sedrick Alexander should also see touches. The Commodores return four out of five starters on an improving offensive line. One thing that stands out about them is their SEC size. The Warriors also have Stanford and Oregon on the schedule so this will be the first test to see how they will handle the physicality of the Power 5 up front.

The Warrior defense had its ups and downs throughout the 2022 season, but at times, they kept the Bows in the game while the offense struggled. They return a core group of starters and they have added some exciting playmakers to the group with the highlights being Wyoming transfer cornerback Cam Stone and Washington transfer defensive tackle Kuao Peihopa. The Warriors are looking for both of them to be impact players right away.

Leading the defense will be recently named team captain Logan Taylor. Last season, Taylor stepped in for an injured Isaiah Tufaga and finished the year as the team leader in tackles with double digit stops in every game he started. Tufaga returns from injury and will play beside Taylor in the 4-2-5 scheme. The secondary will be put to the test against a talented Vanderbilt receiving core, but this has the potential to be the most talented secondary the Bows have had in a while.

Playing opposite of Stone is returning starter Virdel Edwards II and junior college transfer CJ Williams has locked down the nickelback spot. Peter Manuma was all conference honorable mention as a freshman last season and it sounds like he and Meki Pei have formed a formidable safety tandem throughout fall camp. The Warriors are still waiting to hear from the NCAA regarding the eligibility of defensive tackle John Tuitupou.

It would be a boost to the defensive front if he is granted another season. The thing that the Warriors have lacked in recent years is a pass rush. Jonah Kahahawai-Welch and Andrew Choi will get the first looks on the edge but look for Wynden Ho’ohuli to make an impact after struggling through injuries in his first year after transferring from Nebraska.

Vanderbilt Defense vs Hawaii Offense

In last year’s contest, the Vanderbilt defense set the tone and changed the game by forcing four fumbles and returning two of them for fumbles. While it’s easy to say the ball bounced the right way for the Commodores, you can’t overlook the fact that the speed and physicality of an SEC defense gave the Warriors problems. The Commodores have experience and depth up front with seniors Daevion Davis and Christian James anchoring the middle and Stanford graduate transfer Aeneas DiCosmo starting on the edge. The Commodores were looking for big things out of Miles Capers in 2022 but he was injured in fall camp and missed the season. He makes his return and will also see time on the edge. Capers and DiCosmo will be a tough task for the Warriors first time starting offensive tackles. Former Clemson transfer Kane Patterson looks to replace Anfernee Orji (now with the Saints) and three year starter Ethan Barr has been a steady presence in the middle of the Commodore defense. In the secondary Jaylen Mahoney and De’Rickey Wright are listed as starters at safety, but the competition at cornerback is ongoing. 

The Warriors will look to capitalize on an unproven Commodore secondary when they unveil Coach Timmy Chang’s version of the Run and Shoot. The Warriors started the transition to the beloved offense midway through last season and spent the offseason fine tuning the playbook and getting the quarterbacks and receivers on the same page. As Hawaii fans know, in this scheme, the offense goes where the quarterback goes and Junior Brayden Schager will get the nod for the Bows.

Schager has shown flashes, but this is a great opportunity for the Junior to have a breakout season. Jonah Panoke is the only returning starter in the receiving core and will be joined by Kansas transfer Steven Mcbride and redshirt freshman Pofele Ashlock. Chuuky Hines and Koali Nishigaya should also factor into the rotation. One reason I called it Timmy Chang’s version of the run and shoot is because the Warriors will deploy a tight end instead of two slotbacks as we have seen in the past.

Greyson Morgan is listed as the number one tight end on the depth chart but it sounds like Devon Tauaefa has been getting looks as well. Sophomore running back Tylan Hines broke out as a freshman last season and is the best playmaker on the team. He will be used as both a running back and in the slot this season and the Bows will try to get the ball in his hands as much as possible. Senior center Eliki Tanuvasa will have his work cut out for him anchoring an offensive line that he is the only returning starter on. The inexperienced offensive line will be a concern and we will see how they fare in week zero against an underrated Vanderbilt pass rush.

The last time that Hawaii debuted a new version of the Run and Shoot was under Coach Rolovich in 2018. In that game the Colorado State defense looked lost and the Warrior receivers ran wide open all game long. Cole McDonald threw for 418 yards and 3 touchdowns in a Hawaii road victory. Hawaii was 17.5 point underdogs entering that game and on Saturday, they are debuting a new version of the Run and Shoot and are 17.5 point underdogs…Is Vanderbilt on upset alert? The 2023 football season is here! Let’s go Bows!

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire