Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich‘s stated fear of his football team losing two games in Wyoming instead of just one came to fruition Saturday night. Lingering injuries contributed to Colorado State’s 51-21 trouncing of the Rainbow Warriors (2-3) in their home conference opener at Aloha Stadium.
UH has lost three games in a row and is 0-2 in the Mountain West after starting the season 2-0.
“That game was extremely physical and we did not have guys ready to play,” said Rolovich, after first acknowledging the Rams’ overall superiority.
He alluded to a restructured offensive line that was missing usual starters Fred Ulu-Perry at right guard and Dejon Allen at left tackle. Also, starting tight end Tui ‘Unga was out, with an ankle injury.
Rolovich said it affected the offensive game plan, and available personnel dictated that UH call pass plays on its first six downs from scrimmage. That was ineffective and resulted in two three-and-outs while the Rams scored touchdowns on their first three possessions.
Diocemy Saint Juste, who averaged 138.5 rushing yards in UH’s first four games, did not get a carry until the Rainbow Warriors’ third possession.
“It was not the plan on Monday,” Rolovich said, of steering away from the running game. “That became the plan a little later when we realized who we had available.”
Hawaii did not manage a first down until early in the second quarter, and the Rams led 24-0 before Hawaii finally scored on a 1-yard run by Saint Juste after Dru Brown completed a 38-yard pass to Dylan Collie at the CSU 1 with less than two minutes left in the first half.
But the momentum UH derived from the successful 87-yard drive was lost immediately when Colorado State got a 76-yard pass from Nick Stevens to Michael Gallup and Izzy Matthews covered the remaining 4 yards for a 31-7 halftime lead.
Saint Juste got the ball more later in the game and finished with 97 yards on 18 carries.
Hawaii’s lack of depth forcing it away from what it preferred to do offensively was just one problem on a night when it was dominated in just about every meaningful aspect. The Rainbow Warriors tackling was horrific, as Colorado State piled up 610 yards to 512 for Hawaii.
“We always go in talking about stopping the run,” said Rolovich, after the Rams amassed 262 yards on the ground including 130 by Dalyn Dawkins.
CSU receivers were also wide-open all night, with Gallup catching 8 of Stevens’ 18 completions for 212 yards.
“We can’t make excuses,” UH linebacker Jahlani Tavai said. “This is our team. We just have to play Warrior football. (Opposing teams) will capitalize on small mistakes.”