June Jones and his record-setting quarterbacks of Timmy Chang and Colt Brennan are both long gone.
Their BCS dreams are not completely shattered, but it is nearly impossible to go 12-0 from the WAC or any non-BCS conference on a consistent basis unless your name is Chris Petersen.
Greg McMackin now enters his fourth season with a 23-18 record, but it includes two bowl games.
Also, is having among the top ten easiest schedules in America a good thing? Well, only two BCS teams are on the schedule and they just happen to be Colorado and Washington. The Huskies will be a tough game and a likely loss, but Colorado is very beatable in the opener since it is at home.
Bryant Moniz will lead the offense and should pick up right where he left off a season ago as he threw for 5,040 yards. He led the nation in total offense with 367 yards per game! Moniz has a ton of moxy and is very savvy for an upcoming senior (second-team WAC last year).
He has a bevy of options to throw the ball to including Royce Pollard (64 catches, 901 yards and 7 TDs as the No. 3 WR). They bring in junior college recruit Darius Bright, who brings a ton of speed and the depth in Honolulu is solid as usual.
The depth at RB is a given and despite the loss of third-round draft pick Alex Green, they should be just fine with Sterling Jackson (6’0″, 220).
The passing offense was tops in America and the total offense was 14th in the nation averaging 437 YPG. I could care less if you play in the SEC, WAC, or the NFC West because that is a boatload of yards that most teams drool over.
It is such an advantage for Hawaii since most teams do not come into Honolulu as a business trip, but more so as a vacation trip which often leads to blunders on the field.
Plus, with the swirling winds and high altitudes, many opponents can barely stay in a ball game for a full four quarters. Hawaii has seven home games and I see them being favored in all of them except against the Huskies and in the finale against a legit top 40 BYU squad.
The road tilts will be a challenge against Washington, Nevada, and Idaho (Kibbie Dome-16 K) is always a stiff challenge.
Built Like A Ton of Bricks
This Hawaii squad is built as solid as a rock or like a Samoan bulldozer if you will from the inside-out. They have an elite WAC-caliber defense with six starters back on the defensive line.
Kaniela Tuipulotu (6’2″, 300) is a former transfer from Arizona and has a great chance at making first team All-WAC and his teammate Vaughn Meatoga (6’2″, 285) is not too shabby either.
Corey Paredes was fourth in the nation with 151 tackles! He is back for his senior season, as is Aaron Brown who was third on the team in tackles with 83.
Brown has exceptional speed for an outside linebacker in the WAC as he had five sacks and 4.5 tackles for losses.The front seven was a respectable 40th in the nation, allowing only 135 YPG.
Richard Torres is a talented enough safety to keep things from getting ugly, but the depth, size, speed and athleticism is lacking in the back four. Luckily no team in the WAC is talented enough to expose them outside of perhaps Nevada.
I am watching out for the Warriors due to their cupcake schedule as they will continue to make the naysayers look like big fat jokes. Look for yet another under the radar double-digit win season.
Predicted Finish: 11-3, 6-1
Predicted Bowl: Hawaii Bowl
Predicted order of finish in WAC: 2nd