When the Hawaii football team takes the field against Oregon State at Aloha Stadium on Saturday night, it will have been two weeks since the Rainbow Warriors last played a game.
That was a 45-38 upset of Arizona in a Week Zero game on Aug, 24.
With the extra preparation time, the Rainbow Warriors will look to knock off a second straight Pac-12 foe while Oregon State will attempt to bounce back from a 52-36 home loss to Oklahoma State on Aug. 30. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. and the game can be streamed live on Facebook (see breakout for link).
“It’s kind of a different bye week for us because it’s so early in the season,” Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich said this week. “It’s wasn’t so much of rest as it was continuing to improve and get better and develop our depth.”
Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton said Hawaii, which received votes in The Associated Press poll, looked good in its opener.
“Historically people don’t think of Hawaii as like a powerhouse, super-good program, but I think they showed against Arizona they’re playing ball really well,” he said. “They had a really good game and they’ve got a high-powered offense, and defensively I think they’ve got some guys who can make some plays. They’re going to go out there and do their best and so are we.”
If the first games are any indication, this one could be a shootout. Hawaii put up nearly 600 yards of total offense (595), with 432 coming through the air in its run-and-shoot attack.
The Beavers had 448 yards of total offense, and scored four touchdowns and kicked a field goal in five red zone opportunities.
“They’re extremely efficient offensively,” Rolovich said of the Beavers. “They put you in a lot of binds. They are smart coaches (that) set you up. They’ve got good receivers with speed and height and the running back committee they’ve got, they can put in three or four guys and not miss a beat.”
Rolovich said his team, which gave up 539 yards in the win over Arizona, is in for a challenge against the Beavers (0-1). He credited the Beavers with staying in the game against the Cowboys despite falling behind 31-10 in the second quarter.
“Oregon State wasn’t scared,” he said. “They didn’t fold and that is a tribute to coach (Jonathan) Smith and that coaching staff. You can tell by their sideline they were into that football game, they were into all football games last year; they just weren’t able to pull out as many wins as they wanted. But I think they are improving and on the right path.”
Both teams struggled defensively. The Beavers allowed 555 total yards with 352 coming on the ground.
While it would appear the Beavers face a different task this week against a pass-happy team, Smith said OSU must remain focused on stopping the run game as well.
“This is an effective offense though, and, yeah they throw it, but they run it effectively too,” he said, alluding to the 30 attempts for 159 yards (5.3 yards per rush) against Arizona. “… So we’ve got to be able to defend both. This offense has really been successful for years and they’ve got it going really good.”
Eleven of those rushing attempts and 60 yards came from the quarterback position for Hawaii. Oregon State allowed Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders to rush for 109 yards on 13 attempts last week.
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So the Beavers can’t sell out to rush the quarterback and allow him to run.
“If he’s going to drop back to pass and nothing is there, he goes to extend it,” Smith said. “That’s a huge part any time you play anybody but especially Hawaii, especially the way they spread you out.”
Quarterback Cole McDonald did toss four touchdowns for Hawaii but he also was intercepted four times and benched late in the game.
“I looked at the film. There were some throws, probably seven of them, where it was just a bad read, and four of them led to an interception,” McDonald said. “I tried to do a lot. Forced some things when I shouldn’t have forced it. It’s just learning from my mistakes. If I take those away, throwing for however many yards, almost 400, in (almost three) quarters of play. ... The wide receivers, they make plays all the time, O-line is giving great protection. It’s just learning from that and moving forward.”
As for Oregon State, offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said while Hawaii gave up a lot of yards, the Rainbow Warriors are active, especially up front.
“I think they play extremely hard, the pass rush, they get up the field," Lindgren said. “I worked with (Hawaii defensive coordinator) Corey Batoon at Northern Arizona for four years and I have a great amount of respect for him. I think he does a great job and his defenses have always been high quality so we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”
As is often the case, the Beavers' success offensively may be determined by the play of the offensive line, which had a pretty solid first outing against the Cowboys.
“It didn’t surprise us, I guess,” Lindgren said. “I thought those guys did some good things but I still feel like there’s definitely room to grow and improve.”
Senior Gus Lavaka agrees.
“It’s not what we wanted, we wanted more movement, like we wanted more rushing yards, we wanted to gash these guys because we felt like we could,” he said. “We’ve still got stuff to work on.”
One area that was good to see was that Luton had plenty of time to throw and was sacked just once.
“I think they did a fantastic job,” said Luton, who completed 23 of 42 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. “The one sack was 100 percent my fault. I was trying to make something happen and I just need to throw it away. But they gave me plenty of time. You watch the tape and I was back there for five seconds probably rolling out. They did a fantastic job from start to finish.”
Last week, the offense went three-and-out on three consecutive series and that allowed the Cowboys to break open the game.
"I feel like we all have that chip on our shoulder right now," Lavaka said. "It sucks to lose and that’s why we want to get back on the field and fix whatever we need to fix. We just want to go and play again."