Hawaii football: Rolovich to make quarterback decision later this week

Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro (12) was embraced by starter Cole McDonald (13) and quarterbacks coach Craig Stutzmann after Cordeiro's game-tying touchdown run against Fresno State in the fourth quarter on Saturday. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

Saturday’s difficult loss to old rival Fresno State gave Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich plenty to think about.

At or near the top of that list? Who his starting quarterback will be for this weekend’s battle with San Jose State.

Redshirt junior Cole McDonald has started every game this season, but was lifted late against the Bulldogs for redshirt freshman Chevan Cordeiro, who helped spark the Rainbow Warriors from two touchdowns down to tie the game at 38 before Fresno drove for the winning walk-off field goal.

It was one of a handful of times over the last two years that Cordeiro has supplied a lift in relief of McDonald.

On Tuesday, Rolovich sounded torn. He was not ready to announce a decision between the two for what could be a pivotal game for UH (5-4, 2-3 Mountain West) as it pertains to making the Hawaii Bowl. San Jose State is 4-5 and 1-4 after its very competitive 52-42 loss to Boise State last week.

“(We’ll) go through the week to practice. You know, I think obviously Chev’s brought an energy each time he’s come in. Cole’s done so many good things for us to be in the position we’re at, as far as offensive production,” Rolovich said. “You could say it’s a good problem, it’s a difficult problem. You’ve got two good kids that are living out their life dream, and you know, only one guy gets to play at a time.

“Many options. I think we’ll just continue through the week of practice and see how it goes as we get further, closer towards the game.”

McDonald completed a season-low 50 percent of his throws against FSU — 21-for-42 — for 275 yards, a touchdown and an interception, as well as a 6-yard rushing TD. Cordeiro was 5-for-9 for 71 yards and a 10-yard keeper touchdown.

On the year, McDonald is 226-for-355 (64 percent) with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, with 310.7 passing yards per game.

Rolovich thought he saw a flaw in McDonald’s mechanics on Saturday.

“I just thought that day, early on, the balls were coming off the side of his hand a little bit. I wanted to talk to him sooner in the game and coach him up more mechanically,” the coach and former UH quarterback said. “It’s something that, it’s been a consistent thing we’ve tried to attack. I don’t think it’s a schematic knowledge thing. I think some of his mechanics were affecting the accuracy of the ball. Against a good team, and that’s what we do, you gotta be dialed in on that.”

Cole McDonald threw against Fresno State on Saturday. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

McDonald, for his part, said he did not notice a flaw.

“I don’t think it was coming off my hand at all any different, it’s just some plays, you know, the last one where he pulled me, it was an option route that I was going to see a … man breaking and I was already too far into my throw,” McDonald said. “I tried to change it last minute, just couldn’t get ahold of it. Stuff happens. It’s just football. You just gotta learn from it and move forward.

“You know, Chevan stepped up and made some big-time plays. That’s what we’re about — we’re about winning. And whatever it takes, whoever it takes, we’re going to do it.”

Cordeiro, in his limited appearances this season, is 26-for-51 for 372 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The Saint Louis School product helped spark UH to a win over Arizona in the season opener and did that a couple other times last year.

Against Fresno, after first turning it over on downs a few yards shy of the goal line, he found redshirt freshman wideout Nick Mardner for a 50-yard deep ball, setting up a 3-yard touchdown by running back Miles Reed to begin the comeback. The 6-foot-5 Mardner also connected on a 50-yard pass with Cordeiro for a touchdown at Boise State a month ago.

Mardner, an emerging threat downfield for the Warriors, described their bond Tuesday.

“Me and Chev are real close. Everyone on this team in Hawaii, it’s like more of a family,” he said. “Me and Chev, he came in with me as a freshman last year. We lived together in the dorms. We did all these things. So me and him are real close. With all the other quarterbacks too, but me and Chev, just him being a freshman, we have that bond. It’s real good. Especially him throwing me that ball in Boise and throwing this one in the last game. Yeah, we’re getting closer every day.”

Chevan Cordeiro scrambled past Fresno State defensive lineman Leevel Tatum III (44) for a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser


Also Tuesday, Rolovich began his session with the media scrum by expressing condolences to the New Mexico football program for the death of lineman Nahje Flowers, which was reported early Tuesday morning.

UH linebacker Scheyenne Sanitoa died over the summer. Rolovich tried to put life, death and football into perspective.


  1. Superstar Advertiser November 5, 2019 1:29 pm

    I’m not a Cole hater. Like Rolo says, we can have 2 good QBs.
    But if Cole can’t make the short passes, then the coaches are gonna be coaching with the figurative arm tied behind their back.
    I said this before: The summary of what we are facing can be seen on the 4th down in the 3rd quarter with UH up 24-21. Coaches called the perfect short yardage play but Cole didn’t get the ball there.
    If we can’t rely on converting plays like that, we won’t be a dangerous football team.

    Not to mention we’re dealing with the WR problem of consistently catching the ball when Cole does deliver. We’re walking a thin line.

  2. Nainoa November 5, 2019 1:51 pm

    Bench Cole. Chevy should be the starter! He has proven it. McDonald’s lack of leadership on the field is quit apparent. He is not a winner. He drags his team down with him. You see no effort in the way he plays. He goes through the motions but put no extra effort. You can read any run pass option and what he is going to do. He’s great when he’s on playing a shotty team but is the anchor dragging the offense down in the face of any and all adversity. He can’t lead! He needs to ride the pine pony for the rest of his time here. Rolo should be going with Cordero because he gives the bows the best chance to win. He brings life into the offense, into the team , and to the stadium. He also has a lot more potential to reach the Cole. Even the oline wants to smash coles head in at points. He looks like a young cocky unskilled scrub. Play the local boy because it’s good for your team in every single way

  3. Hoops808 November 5, 2019 3:05 pm

    245 6’6” pass rusher
    Ready to play
    Change the d line philosophy

  4. Matt November 5, 2019 6:43 pm

    Not to mention that after this year, 2020’s schedule will be incredibly more ridiculous than the 2015 schedule. You’re talking about at Arizona to start, following with home with UCLA, and on the road to Oregon to start non-conference. They also get Boise at home, at Fresno, at SJSU, at SDSU, and at Air Force.

    It’s really clear that Rolo’s going to NEED to recruit guys for defense for the 2020 offseason. They can’t get band-aid players to aid them on their way. This team talks big of a game on having a good offense, but they can’t back it up with solid defense. Ever since 2011, we just haven’t been the same team we once were. Including Chow’s tenure, we have not made it to the postseason for 5 straight seasons. I hope that the coaching staff and Rolo realize the clear picture for the 2020 season because their schedule will be ridiculously on its highest difficulty level. They are looking at 7 tough matches next year and a bowl berth could pretty much not happen for them.

    The other thing that’s distracting me is…where’s this “phase 2” that they’re talking about? Because we’re not seeing it, and it’s going to possibly end the same way like last year, where it fades to oblivion. If Rolo wants to sustain a winning record and forget the 3-9 2017 season, then this is the season to do it. Finish!

  5. Patfan November 5, 2019 8:47 pm

    Nainoa you’re are an idiot sound like a idiot these are young men playing college Football doing the best they can no need to criticize Cole. You probably was a scrub in high school and warmed the bench. No need to call Cole unskilled you should keep your mouth shut if you don’t have anything good to say

  6. Aiea 7 November 5, 2019 9:07 pm

    many people are blaming the offense for losing games. but the real reason why they are losing games is the defense, it is lousy. the players cannot tackle, too slow, the dbs don’t seem to know how to cover the receivers (they are usually wide open). fix the defense and you will win games consistently. either the players are not good enough or the coaches are not good enough. something has to change.

  7. Whats Up November 5, 2019 10:56 pm

    The head scratcher for me is why Hawaii always has a hard time against tight ends. Tight ends historically seem to be the Achilles heel for Hawaii RnS teams. The D-line has been getting spanked this season against running teams, another historical Achilles heel for RnS teams.

    Some scheme and roster adjustments need to be made and recruiting players that can boost Hawaii to overcome those RnS Achilles heels.

  8. H-Man November 6, 2019 4:39 am

    Cole confuses me he’s so irratic. Had a great half against Fresno St, but it all went south in the second half. Those poor passes were mind bogglingly bad. The kind of misconnection with the receivers should have been long gone in fall camp…and they were….but now, what’s up with Cole?

    Yeah, I know. Too much of the blame is pointed at Cole. The defense can shoulder a lot the blame for the losses. But I think our defense is good, but gets put into situations that makes it difficult. Consecutive three-and-outs puts pressure on any defense. The offense has to move the ball to give the D time to rest. But when that doesn’t happen, different players and packages are inserted, especially in the fourth. That’s what happened this past Saturday.

    Not knowing what’s wrong with Cole, small injury the coaching staff is silent on perhaps? In any case, start Cordeiro. It would take the pressure off of Cole because all eyes will be on him. Any miss throw will only be magnified. You know, waiting for the next shoe to drop. If Cordeiro falters, then Cole can enter on his white horse to save the team. If Cordeiro does well, it’s simply good for the team.

  9. pizzapirate November 6, 2019 8:46 am

    im pretty sure the tackling on defense should be the focus this week. not the qb play. It was like they were trying to tackle Barry Sanders.

  10. CUQ November 6, 2019 8:53 am

    The QB with the “It” factor should play. “It” means good on 3rd downs, red zones, critical plays/4th quarter. Practice performance is only one factor.

  11. Amosilatus November 7, 2019 4:21 am

    Here’s a strategy: start Cole, he deserves it. If Cole is having an off night with accuracy (it happens to everyone), try Cordeiro. The key is recognizing who is off and who is on, and making the change as soon as it is recognized. In the Fresno game it was apparent early that Cole was off, but it took forever to try Cordeiro! If Cordeiro is off too–then try Uahunui!

  12. QBNFA November 7, 2019 12:01 pm

    Chevan’s mechanics are way flawed than Coles? We will see the same results as teams prep for Chevan, shutting out his dominant side leaving him inept. IMO Uahinui is the sleeper and seems way consistent! Must be a political thing…

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