Coach: Norm Chow (8-29, entering fourth season, 8-29 overall)
2014 record: 4-9, 3-5 in Mountain West, fourth place in West Division
Look back: Norm Chow developed a reputation as one of the top offensive minds in football, with successful tenures as an offensive coordinator at BYU and USC, among other locations. Chow, however, has not been able to bring the same firepower to Hawaii’s offense.
The Rainbow Warriors ranked No. 119 in passing efficiency (103.8), No. 108 in scoring offense (20.9 ppg) and No. 98 in total offense (364.5 ypg) last season. The defense wasn’t much stronger, ranking No. 82 in yards surrendered per game (418.2) and No. 64 in points allowed per contest (26.8).
Hawaii’s lineup could only score three wins against FBS opponents in 2014, with the trio all ending the season with losing record.
Offensive starters returning: 8
Offensive starters lost: 3
Defensive starters returning: 6
Defensive starters lost: 5
Key losses: OL Kody Afusia, TE Jordan Pu‘u-Robinson, OL Sean Shigematsu, LB Tevita Lataimua, DL Moses Samia, DB Taz Stevenson, LB TJ Taimatuia, DL Beau Yap, K Tyler Hadden, P Scott Harding
Top returnees: OL Dejon Allen, OL Ben Clarke, WR Marcus Kemp, RB Steven Lakalaka, WR Quinton Pedroza, OL Brendan Urban, FB Justin Vele, QB Ikaika Woolsey, DB Trayvon Henderson, DB Nick Nelson, CB Ne’Quan Phillips, LB Simon Poti, DL Kennedy Tulimasealii, LB Lance Williams
Strengths: Hawaii returns eight starters on offense, which could help the group start to better execute the offense. Starting quarterback Ikaika Woolsey returns, but he has faced stiff competition from USC transfer Max Wittek. After sitting out one season, Wittek took the majority of first team snaps during spring drills and will likely anchor the Rainbow Warriors’ offense.
Chow is working to add Hawaii’s talent pool beyond Wittek. Arizona transfer linebacker Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea and BYU receiver transfer Dylan Collie, brother of former NFL and current CFL player Austin Collie, are both eligible.
Weaknesses: While the influx of talent could help, Hawaii has a long way to before it can contend for bowl eligibility. The team has struggled to compete in the Mountain West and faces a tough schedule that includes a game at defending national champion Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Hawaii also had to replace its offensive and defensive coordinators relatively late in the offseason, giving the coaches little time to get on the same page before the start of spring football practice.
The Rainbow Warriors have been hit by injury issues as well, forcing the team to schedule a regular practice rather than a spring game to conclude drills Saturday.
Outlook: Chow, a Hawaii native, was warmly welcomed when he was hired, but the strain of an 8-29 record has put him on the hot seat. It won’t be easy to show enough improvement to hold onto his job.
Sept. 3 Colorado
Sept. 12 at Ohio State
Sept. 19 UC-Davis
Sept. 26 at Wisconsin
Oct. 3 at Boise State
Oct. 10 San Diego State
Oct. 17 at New Mexico
Oct. 24 at Nevada
Oct. 31 Air Force
Nov. 7 at UNLV
Nov. 14 Fresno State
Nov. 21 San Jose State
Nov. 28 Louisiana-Monroe
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com