Before Cole McDonald on Saturday at Colorado State, only three other University of Hawaii quarterbacks were on the winning side in their first start in the run-and-shoot offense. And Jason Whieldon is the only besides McDonald to achieve that in UH’s first game of the season. The other two — debut winners in midseason — were Shane Austin and David Graves. Austin is the only besides McDonald to win on the road in his first chance to start.
In the Rainbow Warriors’ 43-34 win over the Rams, McDonald became the 12th quarterback to start a game for Hawaii in the run-and-shoot offense, which it previously ran from 1999 through 2011. McDonald posted the best overall statistics of all of them in their debuts as the starter; he is first, or tied for first in yards passing, touchdown passes, fewest interceptions, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He is third only to Colt Brennan and Tyler Graunke in completion percentage.
Unlike many of the others, McDonald did not have the opportunity to observe the run-and-shoot as a backup before his first start. Granted, he didn’t have to go up against top-notch defenses such as USC or Michigan State, like Dan Robinson, Graunke and Brennan did. But almost any way you slice it, McDonald’s first outing as a run-and-shoot starter is the most impressive in school history.
The question now is this: How much better can he and the Warriors offense get as the season moves along?
Here’s the breakdown:
Jason Whieldon, 40-17 vs. Appalachian State, Aug. 30, 2003; Inoke Funaki 36-17 vs. Weber State, Sept. 6, 2008; Shane Austin, 17-10 at San Jose State, Nov. 21, 2009; David Graves, 35-23 vs. Tulane, Nov. 26, 2011; Cole McDonald, 43-34 at Colorado State, Aug. 25, 2018.
Dan Robinson, 62-7 vs. USC, Sept. 5, 1999; Nick Rolovich, 45-20 vs. Portland State, Sept. 9, 2000; Timmy Chang, 24-14 vs. Tulsa, Sept. 30, 2000; Tyler Graunke, 63-17 vs. USC, Sept. 4, 2005; Colt Brennan, 42-14 at Michigan State, Sept. 10, 2005; Greg Alexander, 56-10 at Florida, Aug. 30, 2008; Bryant Moniz, 42-17 vs. Fresno State, Oct. 10, 2009.
McDonald 418, Rolovich 367, Whieldon 359, Chang 313, Austin 299, Moniz 283, Graves 260, Brennan 219, Robinson 149, Graunke 127, Funaki 87, Alexander 57.
Brennan .742, Graunke .706, McDonald .702, Chang .645, Austin .609, Whieldon .600, Graves .552, Alexander .523, Funaki .500, Rolovich .490, Moniz .462, Robinson .410.
Whieldon and McDonald 3; Rolovich, Brennan and Graves 2; Chang, Graunke and Moniz 1; Robinson, Alexander, Funaki, and Austin 0.
Graunke, Brennan, Funaki, Austin and McDonald 0; Robinson 1; Rolovich, Chang, Whieldon, Alexander, Moniz, and Graves 2.
McDonald 96, Graves 57, Graunke 43, Funaki 20, Moniz 11, Whieldon -6, Chang -16, Rolovich -17, Robinson -21, Austin -29, Brennan -37.
McDonald 2, Graves 1.