Q&A About Hawaii

QB Taylor Graham struggled in his first game, and RB Aofaga Wily also had a hard time filling in for Joey Iosefa in the Hawaii offense as well in the Rainbow's opener.

We got together with Jeremy Mauss of the Mt. West Connection to get an update on the Hawaii Rainbows (Warrionrs? Rainbow Warriors?) before they arrive at Reser this weekend to take on the Oregon St. Beavers.

QB Taylor Graham's statline from last Thursday vs USC is ugly -- a 39% completion rate, 1 TD and 4 INTs. Did he truly play that bad of a game? Should we expect a bounce back this week?

Yes, he was that bad, however this was Graham's first ever snap in college football. He transferred from Ohio State, where he never played, and was required to sit out last season, so it could have been just rust. However he was that bad but Hawaii was missing their best wide receiver Billy Ray Stutzmann who has been out with a concussion, and his status for this week is uncertain. Head coach Norm Chow is sticking with Graham as the starter so he should have some cushion to go out and play and not look over his shoulder, plus I don't see how it could get any worse.

It looks like RB Joey Iosefa will play his first game of the season this week after recovering from his fractured foot. How much do you anticipate him being used, considering his health?

Hawaii needs Joey Iosefa to be healthy because against USC the rushing attack was non-existent. Iosefa injured the foot back in July and has not done any non-contact drills in practice, but he has practiced with the team. He is traveling with the team and if he is in shape he should see some time. Really I don't know how much he will play, but with how bad the rushing game went last week there could be a chance the team wants to get him back to a nearly full capacity. If I were to guess, Iosefa probably will get at most 10 carries.

How much of a boost does Iosefa give the run game? Can he fix the woeful production the Warriors got from their RB's (23 carries for 38 yards), or is the problem the O-line?

Getting him back in the lineup or even just on the field for a few plays is huge. He is a versatile back who can run and catch and he had about 600 total yards of offense in 2012. The production will get better even if Iosefa has a limited role. The offensive line is not that bad as they returned four starters from 2012, but two of those starters had less than 10 career starts. It is not terrible but it is also not great and hopefully after a week of actually playing a game they will help the run game.

Speaking of which, is there any hope for that line after surrendering 7 sacks to the Trojans?

Seven sacks is brutal to give up and that contributed to Graham having a bad day passing the ball. Like I mentioned above the line should improve heading into Week 2, and Oregon State's defensive front is not as good as USC's so the line should be better. Even in saying that, the line will still struggle a and give up some sacks but there should be some improvement. Offensive line is an area that Hawaii should not struggle since they get a lot of players from Polynesia or Polynesia decent who do play that position well, but they are now heading to to West Coast schools.

The defense performed well against the USC passing game, especially early in the game. Do you expect the Warriors can sustain that success for a more significant stretch of this game?

I think the defense will play just fine, and quite frankly I was surprised they did as well as they did. It did help that USC was missing their top two running backs for this opener, however USC still managed nearly 200 yards on the ground. However, look for the passing defense to take a step back since USC's quarterback situation is a complete mess. Overall, their defense is a bit better but it is still pretty.

Hawaii had the lead well into the 2nd quarter against USC, and were within 2 scores early in the 4th. Were Warriors fans pleased with the team's performance and what it could mean for the future?

To say the least Hawaii fans were happy that they were not getting blown out too bad, but they really knew they were not going to win. The quarterback play was so bad for Hawaii that they knew a comeback attempt was not likely.

There is some confidence going forward since it was Graham's first college football game, and they missed their top running back and wide receiver. Once that situation gets sorted out then Hawaii could at least be competitive with about half of the Mountain West.

Thanks, Jeremy; great insights, especially for anyone who might have missed seeing the game. We'll be back in touch before the San Diego St. game.

-James

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