Aggies run over Rainbow Warriors

With a sparse crowd at his back, Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich looked out to the field during a break in the second half of the Rainbow Warriors' 56-17 loss to Utah State on Saturday night. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

This one was over early.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to most that No. 18 Utah State had few problems clobbering a reeling Hawaii team 56-17 on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.

The Aggies blasted out to a 28-3 halftime lead and cruised the rest of the way. It’s hard to believe the Rainbow Warriors, with four losses in a row, still have a winning record (6-5). After next week’s bye, they have two chances left — at home against UNLV and on the road at San Diego State — to clinch a winning record and a Hawaii Bowl bid.

Meanwhile, Utah State won its eighth game in a row after a season-opening loss at Michigan State, and is a contender for the Group of Five conferences’ guaranteed slot in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

The Aggies balanced and efficient offense did as it pleased against an uninspired Hawaii defense. Utah State piled up 601 yards to 390 for UH in total offense. The Aggies ran all over the Warriors with 426 rushing yards.

On Utah State’s third touchdown, the left side of the Hawaii defense simply slowed up and stop pursuing Gerold Bright as he sprinted down the right sideline for an 18-yard score.

It’s possible that no one had an angle to make a play on Bright, and that it wouldn’t have mattered if they’d continued to run full-speed. But at best the defense was out of position and lost containment and the slowing up was a bad look especially so early in the game.

“I don’t think there’s a lack of effort,” head coach Nick Rolovich said. “Maybe a lack of focus sometimes and obviously a lack of execution.”

Later, in the third quarter, Darwin Thompson went 26 yards for a touchdown as seven tackles were missed by UH players. At least this time defenders were close enough to attempt to make a play.

There were times the Warriors looked like they thought they were playing in a touch game instead of tackle.

“It doesn’t feel good. We gotta get off blocks and make tackles,” Rolovich said. “We look bad. Maybe we need to buy them more tackling toys.”

He also had criticism for the offense.

“On the flip side … we haven’t been able to run the ball well and we can’t afford to drop balls and have Cole (McDonald) knocked down every time he goes back to pass.

“We’re not doing anything real well.”

How did this happen to a team that started out at 3-0 and 6-1?

First, the schedule was backloaded. Also, the team is very young and did not bounce back from the early losses very well. McDonald does not look fully recovered from injury. UH’s best defender, linebacker Jahlani Tavai, is still out with an injury. Depth is a big issue on defense, as is youth on both sides of the ball.

Defenses have been able to get to McDonald without blitzing, leaving more defenders in coverage, and defensive coordinators have benefited from seeing tape of UH’s new offensive schemes and players which was not available for UH’s early opponents.

This is a team that really needs the extra week it has to prepare for its next opponent, UNLV on Nov. 18 in the home finale.

“Things have to get fixed,” Rolovich said. “We’re looking at two opportunities to get to a bowl. It’s been a tough month.”


  1. H-Man November 4, 2018 5:16 am

    If you’re gluten for punishment, the game will be re-broadcast by Spectrum on channel 12/1012 at 6:45 a.m. this morning.

  2. anywaaays!!! November 4, 2018 8:38 am

    sorry, bro. i have a gluten sensitivity. no bread or pasta for me.

  3. brainbow November 4, 2018 9:41 am

    “I don’t think there’s a lack of effort,” head coach Nick Rolovich said. “Maybe a lack of focus sometimes and obviously a lack of execution.” Are you kidding Rolo-over, “six of one, half a dozen of another”!!

  4. H-Man November 4, 2018 12:34 pm

    I watched the game. Well, most of it. Kinda nodded off at times. But of what I did see, it was with utter amazement how easily Utah State ran the ball, as they rolled up 426 yards rushing to Hawaii’s 43 yards. I asked myself, “How do they do that and we can’t?” Was it the O-line? Or we just don’t have the runners? The last question begs the question about Hawaii’s stable of running backs. For the game, Hawaii had rushes by Cole, Dayton and Fred. No other running back saw game time. I would love to have seen Hekili Keliiliki, Mel Davis and/or Elijah Dale get some carries; the latter two being seniors.

  5. Matt November 4, 2018 5:26 pm

    Man…this is just difficult to watch. Especially when all the things they did in the 6-2 spectacle started to fade away so quick. What was the one thing Ferd Lewis had said 3 months ago about this football team? That they NEED to take advantage of their schedule! They had NO power 5 opponents on their schedule, and they’re getting stepped on like stairs in the latter half of their schedule!!!
    Rolo needs to ask his team this, “Do you want to be represented as winners or losers?”.
    The reason is, because Rolo probably pledged to not EVER see his 3-9 record ruin his reputation. The way they were playing after the BYU loss is nowhere NEAR winners. Now at 6-5, that is NEVER going to make up from last year’s mishaps. The team needs to realize what he’s been going through, and just giving him .500 records just isn’t going to cut it. (7-7, 3-9, and now 6-5 at this point) He’s now got 16-21 in his 3 years and the team just isn’t doing them any favors. What needs to happen in off-season is that they gotta recruit valuable assets to the team, not liabilities. Because not only would the loss of Jahlani Tavai be a problem, but they gotta find a good size for defense that can withstand tall offenses. The average height of Hawaii’s defense at least in my count is about 6’2″ to 6’3″ and that may not be enough for taller offenses in which they’ll storm all over them. They got TRAMPLED by a BYU offense which averaged a height of 6’5″!!! This kind of issue needs to be fixed if they’re going to have success in the latter years. Hawaii’s offense got blown sky high with no answer against 6’9″ Kaufusi and THAT has got to be a major buzzkill for Hawaii’s morale. If they can find a good 6’6″ or taller defensive line recruit or two, maybe we can see them be good enough to handle opposing offenses. They did have 6’7″ Viane Moala for two seasons (Until he left to Utah). At the end of the day, the team’s gotta understand that Rolo probably wouldn’t be happy if they keep giving him .500 season records unless they can make him happy by making up his 3-9 2017 season. They gotta play as a team and not play like they’re nothing.

  6. amela November 4, 2018 9:07 pm

    I had a bad feeling that this would happen having to win one more game to be bowl eligible. Every week with every loss the pressure get’s heavier. OMG if they can’t get that 7th win. Oh and btw I don’t think Tavai would have made a difference in this game.

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