Oregon St. (1-0) at Hawaii (1-0) / Aloha Stadium / 4:30 PM HST (7:30 PM PDT) / CBS Sports Channel / KEJO 1240 AM / KEX 1190 AM
Oregon St. makes their second trip to Hawaii in less than 9 months today, looking to back up their 38-23 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl win over Boise St. last Christmas Eve, as well as last season's second game of the season 33-14 win over the Warriors, this evening at Aloha Stadium.
In fact, the Beavers are riding a 3 game winning streak against Hawaii, and have won 6 of the 9 previous meetings.
The Warriors raised some eyebrows by almost upsetting then 25th ranked Washington on opening weekend, falling only 17-16, and mostly because Husky WR John Ross turned in a couple of big-yardage first half touchdowns, including a school record 91 yard scoring catch.
Hawaii will again base their offensive efforts around 240 lb. running back Joe Iosefa, who gashed the Huskies for 143 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries.
Iosefa did not play in last year's Hawaii-Oregon St. game, or any of the Warriors other first 8 contests, due to an injury. Once healthy again, Iosefa rolled up 590 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus one receiving, on 126 rushes.
The Beavers struggled with penalties, especially in the first half, and their re-vamped offensive line, which has 4 new starters plus a new position for Sean Harlow, against Portland St. in their opener.
So much so that despite moving the ball well in the middle of the field, Oregon St. stalled 7 times in the red-zone, and attempted a school record 7 field goals, with only a pair of drives resulting in touchdowns.
Sean Mannion also had a bit of a rusty day, throwing for 328 yards and a touchdown, and rushing for another, but completing only 58% of his passes, suffering multiple drops (a couple of which were red-zone drive killers), but also missing open receivers on multiple scoring opportunities.
The inconsistency of the offensive line, which not only has the 4 new starters, also has not worked with the same players in their current positions throughout summer camp as Oregon St. searched for the right combination in the absence of center Isaac Seumalo, who is out until at least after next week's bye, undoubtedly had a lot to do with that.
Mannion would enjoy 5, 6, and even 7 seconds at times in the pocket on a given play, and then be forced to dump the ball early the next time and again.
The line did do some good things in the run game as well, opening things up enough for Storm Woods to rush for 125 yards, including a 50 yard run.
The Oregon St. defense also had a few early mis-steps, allowing mobile quarterback Paris Penn to get loose for 3 significant runs, 2 for touchdowns, which together with the red-zone problems and 8 first half penalties, saw the Vikings holding a 14-13 lead at the half.
The Beaver defense began to look what everyone expected after the break though, forcing 4 3rd quarter turnovers, including 2 picks by safety Ty Zimmerman, and allowing only 40 net yards in the second half. It allowed the deeper and more diverse Oregon St. offense to eventually pull away for a 29-14 win.
Indeed, Oregon St. was the only team in the country that did not allow their opponent to convert a single third down last weekend.
Hawaii will attempt to continue to disrupt Mannion as their formula for supplementing Iosefa, bringing a variety of blitzes from their new 3-4 alignment under first year defensive coordinator Kevin Clune, whom Warriors coach Norm Chow, who has gotten off to a 4-21 start, and posted only a 1-11 record last year, brought in from Utah St.
The long-time doormat Aggies have risen to Mt. West and national relevance in recent years, and Clune's defenses were a significant part of the reason why.
One possible further complication for the Oregon St. offensive, and specifically the o-line, is that left guard Garrett Weinrich, who made his first career start against Portland St., was held out of practice for the same knee as he had injured previously, and Roman Sapolu may see increased action in place of Weinrich even if he plays.
On the plus side, fullback Tyler Anderson will be available for the first time since he injured his leg & knee around the middle of summer camp.
The heat will also be an issue, with temperatures in the 90s during the first half of the game predicted. Depth on especially the defensive side of the ball for the Beavers will definitely come into play.
Buildingthedam.com will be back after the game, with coverage and analysis.