Hawaii went to great lengths to keep quarterback Cole McDonald’s injury a secret.
McDonald entered Saturday’s game against Wyoming as the nation’s leader in passing yards but apparently suffered some sort of injury that was going to keep him out against the Cowboys. UH did not want Wyoming to know that was McDonald was out. To help keep McDonald’s status a mystery, they even sent a player out for warm-ups wearing McDonald’s No. 13 jersey.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser confirmed that there was somebody wearing McDonald’s jersey before the game:
There was a player wearing McDonald’s No. 13 jersey participating in the first warm-up session today. But McDonald was not on the field during the second pre-game warmup session.
But McDonald’s trademark blonde dreadlocks were noticeably absent.
During the game, McDonald, who, per the Star-Advertiser, was not at practice on Tuesday and Wednesday but did participate in the team’s walkthrough on Thursday, was in street clothes on the sideline.
With McDonald out, Hawaii started true freshman Chevan Cordeiro. It was the first collegiate action for Cordeiro, who shook off a third quarter pick-six by throwing two touchdown passes in a 17-13 win. The game-winner came on a deep ball to JoJo Ward with 1:26 left in regulation.
Cordeiro finished the game 19-of-29 for 148 yards — well below the huge numbers McDonald has put up on a weekly basis (2,100 yards and 24 touchdowns in six games). UH coach Nick Rolovich said the numbers don’t matter.
“Chevan Cordeiro almost won the (starting) job in training camp. You can take these numbers and throw them out,” Rolovich said after the win. “Chevan Cordeiro throws a pick-six to a defensive lineman and then comes back and throws the game-winning touchdown on an incredible play. It didn’t rattle him. I couldn’t be happier for him.”
As for McDonald, Rolovich said he does not know exactly when he will be back in the lineup. But it won’t be long.
“It’s not going to be a terribly long-term thing,” Rolovich said.
With the win, Hawaii improved to 6-1 on the year to clinch bowl eligibility for the second time in Rolovich’s three seasons. The Rainbow Warriors won seven games and beat Middle Tennessee State in the Hawaii Bowl in Rolovich’s first season. Last year, UH finished 3-9.
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