Hawai’i rode a 6-1 start to eight wins in 2019, their best year since 2010. Wins against Wyoming and San Diego State highlighted the year. Star QB Cole McDonald was incredible for a first-year starter sophomore and should be the star of this team into the future.
For the first time since Colt Brennan, Hawai’i has a quarterback it can really rely on in Cole McDonald, who averaged eight yards per attempt throwing last year with the Rainbow Warriors (36 touchdowns, ten interceptions), and over five yards per carry (not counting sacks). And he did all of that while dealing with a foot injury for the back half of the year.
There will be a few new faces around him. WR John Ursua, one of the best in school history, left early for the draft, but there are still some interesting pieces in the receiving corps. Seniors Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward are the top two returners after both were just shy of 1,000 yards last year. Byrd averaged 16.9 yards per catch. Highly touted Cal transfer Melquise Stovall will join the lineup as well.
Hawai’i is a pass-first team, but all three running backs that shared time last year return, and everybody is back on the line. Ursua is a big loss but pretty much everyone other than him returns, and this team could improve on last year’s already solid numbers.
Hawai’i blitzed a lot more last year under first-year DC’s Corey Batoon’s attacking mentality style. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Almost everyone is back from that group though, and they add LB Jeremiah Pritchard who redshirted last year.
Continuity will be king on the defense, guys like Kaimana Padello (8.5 TFL, five sacks) and Rojesterman Farris (11 PBUs) will be key pieces and the added experience to what was a young defense last year will help Hawai’i improve.
With 18 starters back, Hawai’i comes into 2019 as one of the five most experienced teams in the country, but the schedule is tough, with three power-five opponents on the docket. Nine games are projected within six points, five within three points so there are a lot of ways this season could go, a bowl trip feels like a tossup despite all the talent.
|Date||Opponent||Opp. rank||Proj. Marg3n|
|12-Oct||at Boise State||32||-13.2|
|26-Oct||at New Mexico||117||4.2|
|9-Nov||San Jose State||116||10.0|
|23-Nov||San Diego State||66||-2.2|
Average Projected Record: 6.3 wins, 6.7 losses (4.1 wins, 3.9 losses)