Hawaii vs. New Mexico State

September 24 – RAINBOW WARRIORS OFFENSE The perception is that the Warriors are too ground-oriented and predictable on the second try, but the numbers show the opposite. The majority of their plays on the second down are assists. Although they average 4.9 yards per play on the first down, their second down average is 6.8 yards. The Warriors are also doing better on the second down (4.7 yards) than on the first down (3.38). Backers Dae Dae Hunter (eight carries over 10 yards) and Dedrick Parson showed breakaway potential, as well as Ziploc blocking. Neither of them allowed a bag. Establishing any kind of attack in progress has collateral benefits for the passing game. UH averages 9.5 yards per play pass. As quarterback Chevan Cordeiro grows with the run-and-gun attack, he makes better use of his limits. In previous seasons, Cordeiro often struggled out of pocket. This year Cordeiro stayed there a little longer and will use the guard to guard area as an escape hatch. Cordeiro is averaging 6.4 yards on scrum and sackless goalies. He was also able to manage the thermostat, connecting to 53.8% of the jets facing the heated pressure. Cordeiro’s overall accuracy is skewed by 16 drops in four games. The Calvin Turner quartet are Cordeiro’s favorite receiver with 11 targets per game. In UH’s first two games, wide Nick Mardner caught seven of 10 passes in his direction. In the next two, he caught 11 of 19 targets, averaging 4.4 yards. Mardner credited contact lenses and an anti-glare tint for his improvement.

RAINBOW WARRIORS DEFENSE In his fifth year at UH, Eugene Ford has been on the hunt for ball carriers and the perfect taco. He’s been more successful on the court, with just one missed tackle in four games. Ford is listed as a hybrid defender, but he sees himself as a defender ready to fight in the box. “If I have to make a play in the hole, I will,” said Ford, who has lined up as free safety, slot safety and edge defender this year. He’s also fully recovered from a leg injury that sidelined him for seven games in 2020. “The more reps you get, the better I start to feel,” Ford said. “I attack him with every play.” The Warriors, coming off their best defensive game, have enjoyed success on three levels. In 201 games from a corner, Cameron Lockridge allowed only nine assists. Linebacker Darius Muasau missed the first two quarters last week, but his replacement, Isaiah Tufaga, played 38 snaps without error. The defensive front has also had a recent impact. Defensive tackle Pita Tonga drew doubles teams due to his speed and strength in the first step. Rush winger DJuan Matthews, who didn’t miss a tackle, was a nuisance for the quarterbacks, compiling one sack, two hits and nine dispatches. “Did you see the big guys out front?” said Ford. “They grab it. They set the pace.”

RAINBOW WARRIORS SPECIAL TEAMS Freshman Kyler Halvorsen showed a solid leg and precise field goals on 17 kickoffs. Eleven were not returned (five touchdowns, five fair catches, one out of bounds). Of the six returns, the average drive started at 20. The Warriors started the season with a 154-game streak without allowing a blocked punt. Two have been deflected this season – one for a touchdown, another to set up a midfield scoring campaign.

THE AGGIE’S OFFICE In the mid-2000s, traveler Hal Mumme set up his Air Raid attack in Las Cruces, then fled, like his four vertical routes. But Mumme left enough samples for head coach / offensive coordinator Doug Martin to replenish the passing offense. Chase Holbrook, a quarterback then assistant coach under Mumme, supervises the passers-by of the NMSU. On four large or empty sets, the Aggies will attack horizontally and vertically. The most confusing are the tandem roads – two-layered arcs or opposite side widths that intersect. Do you think a double tilt is difficult to defend? The Aggies will perform a double tilt, with lineups stacked on both sides of the lineup. Transfer to Missouri Dominic Gicinto was a prolific receiver until he suffered from a broken arm. Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda (average after capture of 9.5 yards) is now the preferred receiver (6.7 targets per game). Tight end Thomaz Whitford is a hunter of linebackers, especially when he settles down as a niche for a good start and tough clash on second tier routes. Left tackle Sage Doxtater was the Toronto Argonauts’ second-round pick in this year’s CFL Draft. Doxtater did not allow a bag in 301 shots this year. Jonah Johnson, who won the starting QB job out of training camp, looks ready after recovering from a wrist injury sustained two weeks ago. Freshman Dino Maldonado started against FCS South Carolina State, shooting for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the Aggies’ lone win.

AGGIES DEFENSE The Aggies have a pseudo 4-3 appearance because Michael Bowe, a stand-up player who plays the “silver” position, attends linebackers meetings. “He’s something else,” assistant head coach Oliver Soukup said of Bowe. “He’s a really hard-working guy, a high-motor guy. I like what he brings every day in terms of work ethic. You can train him hard and he doesn’t back down.” Bowe, who has played a team-high 283 snaps, can be found at either end, then falling into flats, attacking the pocket, or retreating into rush lanes. Weak side linebacker Josh Ferguson leads in tackles, and strong side linebacker Chris Ojoh has five quarterback hits and four rushes. The appellant is middle linebacker Trevor Brohard, who has progressed every season since his knee injury in 2018. Brohard has also hit the pounds, winning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He is preparing his second master’s degree. “He could be the first doctorate to play for an NCAA program,” said Soukup, noting that Brohard still has at least two more seasons to play. Cornerback Syrus Dumas, a JUCO transfer, was activated last week after missing the first three games as the NCAA clearinghouse reviewed his eligibility. Dumas can play both corners. “It was disappointing,” Dumas said of his sitting position, “but I kept working.”

AGGIED SPECIAL TEAMS Kick-off return Juwaun Price awaits the next big thing. In the spring, Price scored on a 94-yard return. This year, two of his three comebacks totaled 39 and 58 yards. The Aggies returned seven of 25 kickoffs. “I feel really close,” Price said of another TD comeback. “It’s difficult because the coach says they might not want to kick you. We always have to keep the mindset that they are going to kick you every time.” —For more football in Hawaii, visit.

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