Analyze this

Washington State’s Hercules Mata‘afa is college football’s most electrifying defensive player, with half of his 43 tackles made on the opponent’s side of the field. Of his 21.5 tackles for loss, 9.5 have been sacks.

But is Mata‘afa the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year?

There is a strong case that Hawaii middle linebacker Jahlani Tavai had a greater impact in his games. What’s more, there were two games Mata‘afa did not make a tackle and a third in which he was ejected for targeting.

Since I’m bored and a nerd, I compared the stats on the five finalists for the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Here’s how they stack up:

> Total tackles
1. Jahlani Tavai, linebacker, UH — 124
2. Manase Hungalu, linebacker, Oregon State — 97
3. Andrew Motuapuaka, linebacker, Virginia Tech — 85
4. Hercules Mata‘afa, d-end, Washington State — 43
5. Vita Vea, defensive tackle, Washington — 38

> Tackles for loss
1. Hercules Mata‘afa — 21.5
2. Jahlani Tavai — 11
3. Andrew Motuapuaka — 10.5
4. Manase Hungalu — 6
5. Vita Vea — 5.5

> Sacks
1. Hercules Mata‘afa — 9.5
2. Jahlani Tavai — 5.5
3. Andrew Motuapuaka — 3.5
4. Vita Vea — 3.5
5. Manase Hungalu — 2.5

> Run stops in the tackle box
1. Jahlani Tavai — 89
2. Manase Hungalu — 62
3. Andrew Motuapuaka — 52
4. Hercules Mata‘afa — 38
5. Vita Ve‘a — 36

> Tackle-box stops:rushing tackles
1. Vita Vea — 97.3 percent
2. Hercules Mata‘afa — 88.3 percent
3. Jahlani Tavai — 79.5 percent
4. Andrew Matuapuaka — 70.3 percent
5. Manase Hungalu — 68.1 percent

> Tackles last five games/average
1. Jahlani Tavai — 63/12.6
2. Manase Hungalu — 38/7.6
3. Andrew Matuapuaka — 32/6.4
4. Hercules Mata‘afa — 21/4.2
5. Vita Vea — 20/4.0

> Third-down stops short of line to gain
1. Andrew Matuapuaka — 12
2. Jahlani Tavai — 9
3. Hercules Mata‘afa — 9
4. Manase Hungalu — 9
5. Vita Vea — 7

> Red-zone tackles
1. Jahlani Tavai — 20
2. Manase Hungalu — 19
3. Andrew Matuapuaka — 14
4. Hercules Mata‘afa — 6
5. Vita Vea — 3


  1. al December 6, 2017 9:36 am

    Yup. He’s the one.

  2. Da Punchbowl Kid December 6, 2017 9:51 am

    Agree with al. Why not Tavai?

  3. suckkabooya December 6, 2017 10:25 am

    I hope he doesn’t win actually. If he does he will get more attention from more scouts and more accolades (which he deserves) and then he will be gone. We need him back, all American next year. However if he can make that good money then best wishes to Jalani.

  4. Maddog50 December 6, 2017 11:26 am

    Jahlani is a known quantity, award or not. He is ranked by some sources as the 20th or so prospect out of 107. I think a stalwart Senior season would probably drive him into top 12 or so. My opinion he should remain. Solomon and Peni are on the rise also-it’s all about getting bigger stronger and faster-one more year.

  5. BigWave96744 December 6, 2017 11:38 am

    I think the reasoning is Linebacker usually get more tackles than Defensive Lineman.

    Mata’afa’s TFL and Sacks could outweigh total tackles because if the location where it occurred and impact of the game.

    Plus Hercules made some key plays in close wins over Boise St, Stanford & Utah. He was vital in helping the Cougars finish at 9-3.

    Hey, he’s a Maui boy so its still ggod for the State

  6. Old School Dave December 6, 2017 12:11 pm

    Mataafa is a D-II player from Lahainaluna HS – If you’re good, the recruiters will find you. He goes about 6 ft 2 250 lbs, but is very explosive, disruptive, and able to make big plays from his D-line position against Pac-12 competition.

    I’d like to see Jahlani come back for his senior year, with a solid off-season of weight training and conditioning resulting in improving himself even more physically. Also looking forward to seeing Solomon, along with redshirt freshman Paul Scott in the line up. Heal up and get in a solid off-season of strength & conditioning work.

  7. H-Man December 6, 2017 12:16 pm

    No question Jahlani has the stats and reputation to win, but some will argue his stats were accrued in an easier conference than the Pac-12. Plus as BigWave points out, there’s a difference between LB and DE. Hercules’ stats are also impressive.

  8. BigWave96744 December 6, 2017 12:56 pm

    When Hercules was in HS, 2 coaches known as Offensive Geniuses were entering their 2nd year and were tasked of taking over programs in need of winning.

    When he chose Wazzu over Hawaii, many said he couldnt play in the Pac12 and Mike Leach couldnt turn the program into winners.

    One has to wonder how many close loses would have been wins if Mata’afa stayes home.

  9. Old School Dave December 6, 2017 1:46 pm

    On the other hand, good thing about going to school in the Palouse is that there are less distractions there. Go to class, study hall, lift, train, meetings, film work, practice, play on Saturdays. Live it once in a while by traveling to Spokane. Cheehooo!

  10. BigWave96744 December 6, 2017 2:17 pm

    Very true, a bunch of friends excelled in academics at Wazzu because is so damn cold and boring, the only thing to do was to study…

  11. KOH I NOR December 6, 2017 2:46 pm

    I think he didn’t have any backups on defense. But #31 still picked a lot of tackles.

  12. DS December 6, 2017 2:46 pm

    The assessment of a defensive player should not only include the plays he makes but the plays he doesn’t make. I think Tavai is a overall a great player but he seems to be overly aggressive. He takes a lot of risks which often results in bad angles and missed gap assignments just so he can be the “first guy there.” As a defensive player, he seems to be a big risk, big reward type defender which is NOT what you need in a defense like Hawai’i’s where there aren’t enough athletes to compensate for blown assignments.

  13. ai-eee-soos December 6, 2017 3:27 pm

    SMU job might open up – anyone here want to apply?

    After all, JJ went there, from here.

    Chad Morris who went 14-22 in three seasons at SMU, might be

    hired by ARKANSAS – what a step UP. from 14-22 …

  14. H-Man December 6, 2017 3:48 pm

    Can’t worry what could have been if… Going forward, Warrior defense may be in good order next season. I think Penei Stowers-Pavishi, at DE, may make an impact. Is Blessman Taala scheduled to join the Warriors? If he does, then I’m thinking only positive things.

  15. Stephen Tsai December 6, 2017 4:57 pm

    I think it’s hard to hit a curveball, stop a penalty kick and tackle somebody.
    124 tackles is 124 tackles.
    That’s a lot of wear and tear on a body.

  16. Gator808 December 6, 2017 5:24 pm

    Hercules was never offered by Hawaii.

  17. Maddog50 December 6, 2017 6:09 pm

    You bet it is-

  18. cappie the dog December 6, 2017 10:13 pm

    Islandman- I was watching one of East Carolina’s games on ESPN3. It was North Carolina A & T. One of the announcers said, “Fleming has got to calm down.”

    Like Hawaii, the Pirates are winning against teams they’re supposed to beat. But give Isaac credit, he is starting to put up numbers. I decided long ago to root for him.

  19. cappie the dog December 6, 2017 10:30 pm

    Ido, I am so sorry about our president.

    I hope your family and friends back home will be okay.

  20. clyde December 6, 2017 10:40 pm

    According to a USA Today study, the highest-paid assistant coach in college football is LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, whose salary is $1.8 million (!).

  21. H-Man December 7, 2017 4:16 am

    Good morning everyone. Just got up in time to turn off the Christmas lights before the sun rises. Well, couple of hours before the sun comes up.
    Any news on the recruiting front?

  22. Musashi-san December 7, 2017 7:53 am

    So based on a point system, 5 pts for 1, 4 pts for 2, etc…

    1. Jahlani Tavai, 30 points
    2. Hercules Mata’afa, 26 points
    3. Andrew Motuapuaka, 25 points
    4. Manase Hungalu, 24 points
    5. Vita Vea, 13 points

    Based on the stats provided for these 5 athletes, its seems that Jahlani scored better. Will he win, that is up to the voters. But head-to-head, Jahlani came out on top.

  23. Stephen Tsai December 7, 2017 10:20 am

    New post:

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