Cordeiro does it again. Should he start?

Head coach Nick Rolovich made a mid-game change from Cole McDonald to Chevan Cordeiro, spurring UH's 35-28 comeback victory over UNLV. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser

The University of Hawaii football team just completed one of the more stirring comeback victories in recent memory, and with a lot on the line.

Led by a dominant second-half defense and true freshman Chevan Cordeiro‘s three touchdown passes in less than one quarter of play, UH beat UNLV 35-28 and clinched a berth in the Hawaii Bowl.

The Rebels led 21-6 at halftime and it was 28-13 when Cordeiro replaced third-year sophomore Cole McDonald with about 12 minutes left in the game. Cordeiro immediately found JoJo Ward for a 64-yard touchdown pass.

Cordeiro — who earlier this season led UH to a win over Wyoming with a last-minute scoring pass to Ward — then threw another TD pass to Ward for 20 yards at the back of the end zone to tie the score, and with 1:25 left he found John Ursua open on the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown strike and the lead.

Cordeiro finished with four completions in five attempts for 153 yards and the three scores.

McDonald had a rough night with 14 for 30 for 175 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for UH’s first touchdown.

One of the first Twitter reactions by a UH fan was “Let the debate begin.” Assuming that is in regard to a quarterback controversy, my response was “I don’t think there is one.”

I’m of the belief that it is obvious Cordeiro should be the starting quarterback from here on out, beginning with next week’s regular-season closer at San Diego State — especially considering McDonald’s lingering woes after a midseason injury.

Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, seen here against Wyoming on Oct. 6, made a case to be the long-term starter in keying UH to a 35-28 comeback win over UNLV on senior night. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

McDonald’s passes were crisp and on-target before he missed the Wyoming game with the injury; they have not been since. UH was 5-1 before McDonald’s injury. They were 0-4 when McDonald returned from the injury (after the Wyoming win engineered by Cordeiro with a last-minute TD pass) before tonight’s win.

There is the question, though, of burning Cordeiro’s redshirt year if he plays in more than four games. He has now played in three.

Also, if McDonald is benched, does that mean he transfers? And would this fall under the category of the belief of some that a player should not lose his starting spot due to injury?

One option head coach Nick Rolovich may consider is to start McDonald next week at San Diego State; if Cordeiro doesn’t play in that game he could play in the Hawaii Bowl and still keep the redshirt and be eligible for four more seasons after this one.

The Warriors are now 7-5. A win at San Diego State would guarantee a winning season, UH’s first since 2010. To me, that is reason enough to start the quarterback most likely to deliver that win, and at this point that would be Cordeiro. Plus, there’s no guarantee he will want to stay in college for five years. We don’t know if Cordeiro’s upside includes pro football potential, but so far it looks like it might, and he may want to go for it before 2022.

Hawaii Warriors wide receiver John Ursua ran past UNLV Rebels defensive back Dalton Baker. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser


  1. Mark Guss November 17, 2018 10:49 pm

    He deserves to start against San Diego State.
    He’s got a fantastic arm and accuracy.
    A star is born Hawaii looked like Alabama whenhe came in!!
    Great exciting comeback!!

  2. Donna Hayashida November 17, 2018 11:38 pm

    Can’t worry about his red shirt year and 4 years from now. Win with CORDEIRO now and you will win the fans back into the stadium for next season and the seasons after that! I miss the crowd, the noise, and the excitement. We got a taste of that in the last few minutes of tonight’s game.

  3. CTS November 18, 2018 12:05 am

    Play McDonald vs San Diego St and if Chevan hasnt lit a fire under his butt put in Moussa. Then its open season for the starting OB for the bowl game. All the freshman QB will retain their redshirt status for th next season.

  4. Gobows November 18, 2018 12:07 am

    Great win with a legendary performance by Chevan. My only question is why did’nt Rolo start Chevan at the beginning of the 2nd half as clearly Cole had been given more than enough game time to prove that he could win the game.

  5. Kahuna November 18, 2018 12:36 am

    I think you fans need to take this into consideration…..Cordeiro was put in a “no lose” position. If he screwed up…no big deal……UH was behind big and it was a lot to expect from a true freshman to lead a comeback. If he completes the comeback, he one hero.

    McDonald had a lot on his shoulder. From coaches complaining about him taking too long to make decisions to fans putting the blame on him for the bad offense.

    I still think McDonald will start due to his overall body of work. You would kill a kids confidence if you bench someone with that kind of numbers. Not all his fault too. O line not always blocking well. Receiver sometimes run wrong route, etc…

    A more fair solution is to start Cole…..but with a short leash. Then next season, you erased what happened this year and everybody start from block #1. Cordeiro will have the same chance to win the job as Cole. Last year was last year. Cole cannot look back at last year and claim it his job. It’s a new season.

    Chevan will have a chance during the off season to work out more with the receivers and get their time down even better than this season. I think Chevan can win the job next year but this year’s team is really Cole’s team.

  6. ai-eee-soos November 18, 2018 12:45 am

    SAVE Chevan’s redshirt year.

    We are bowl bound, and we are NOT in contention for

    the West Div. title. Chevan can play in the Bowl and still RS.

    QB’s for SDSU:

    Cole; Jeremy (he’s from that area); Kolney Cassell; Larry T.

  7. pakipark November 18, 2018 6:48 am

    Start Chevan Cordeiro . Let him play the rest of the season. It’s obvious UofHawaii is a different team when
    Cordeiro plays. Who knows, if Cordeiro plays, maybe we get Tavai
    back for the bowl game. Winning is good medicine for a team that was on a losing streak. Winning also helps pay the bills.

  8. H-Man November 18, 2018 6:59 am

    Play Cordeiro against the Aztecs He’s the starting QB now. He’s earned it. And if it’s not Cordeiro, start Moussa. There’s something wrong with Cole. He has lost his instinct. He hesitates. Something has gotten into his head. I believe it’s fear of failure.

  9. Lori November 18, 2018 7:33 am

    Here’s a thought: Say Nick redshirts Cordeiro. What if he finishes up with school in 4 years and decides not to come back for his 5th year? Like Natasha Burns of women’s volleyball, just when she is getting to be the best she is, she is graduating because she redshirted one year and did not want to play anymore – just wants to move on with life.

    Coach has a tough decision.

  10. Hank November 18, 2018 8:51 am

    I say play Cordeiro and give him 1st team reps in practice. Rolo probably didn’t give him much work with the 1st team in prep for UNLV which led him to hesitate to pull Cole until the 4th. I also think there’s a sense of obligation to Cole since he led us to a strong start this season. But there’s clearly something wrong with Cole both physically, and mentally. He is struggling bigly against the adjustments that teams have made to our RNS (7-8 man zone). He panics/runs before going through his progressions and has lost his accuracy. If he couldn’t be effective against a porous D like UNLV, SD State is going to eat him up. That would also have a negative effect on the rest of the team, who obviously believes in Chevan. The D was inspired when he entered the game. We’d be better off giving Moussa a chance at getting experience if we want to save Chevan’s redshirt. But I say go for the winning season, and give Chevan first team reps until the bowl game. It’s his time.

    My guess though is that Rolo is going to give Cole the start against SDS. If he does, it’s going to be a long day, both for Cole and the rest of us.

  11. Jorge November 18, 2018 9:09 am

    Interesting, the different viewpoint (or a viewpoint, anyway) from Nevada (seen at “UNLV had a 28-13 lead in the fourth quarter. The Rebel defense had been playing so well, Hawaii benched starting quarterback Cole McDonald. That move proved to be the decisive blow to the Rebels…”

  12. HawaiiMongoose November 18, 2018 9:47 am

    I figured this was a no-brainer but after reading the comments I guess it isn’t. There’s no question in my mind at least that Chevan should sit for the SDSU game so he’s available for the bowl game and his eligibility to play four more seasons is preserved. I can’t see the limited value UH would get from playing him against SDSU next week outweighing the potential value of having him on the field for an additional 13 or 14 games four years from now.

  13. tom-warriornation November 18, 2018 9:56 am

    No brainer; of course Chevan should start; and have him decide if he wants to play in the Hawaii bowl.

    The whole team transformed into supermen when he lead them to those quick TD’s; not to mention all us diehard fans!

  14. downtownie November 18, 2018 11:24 am

    Cordeiro to me has earned the starting role against SDSU and in the bowl game. McDonald had a great start and a great run but from the BYU game Mac seems to have lost his way, became unsure of his throws, and things were unraveling form then onward. He is missing throws, misreading coverages so he throws to spots where no one is, and he is holding the ball too long. In the past 5 games he is holding the ball over 4+ seconds. The receivers, especially the slots, have exhausted their route tree by then.

    Mind you, Cordeiro is still a true freshman, so we have yet to see him under the duress of a really strong pass rush. Only then will we see if he is making his reads and can keep his eyes downfield. When a QB takes their eyes/gaze lower that means they are feeling the pressure.

  15. Hilorain November 18, 2018 11:32 am

    I say let Cordeiro decide if he redshirts or not. 5 years of free school May be important to him and his family.

  16. Dave Reardon November 18, 2018 11:51 am

    That’s a good point: 2022 is a long time from now. And who knows? If Cordeiro continues to develop he may want to give pro football a shot rather than play a fifth year, especially if he’s already got his degree.

  17. iGrokSpock November 18, 2018 1:55 pm

    To start, or not to start, that is the question.

  18. cappie the dog November 18, 2018 2:12 pm

    “Wear my heart upon my sleeve.”

    I think that’s from “Othello”.

    And that was Hawaii in the fourth quarter.

    Mr. Reardon, didn’t you write in Florida?

    What is wrong with Florida?

  19. Brudah Baje November 18, 2018 2:21 pm

    Coach Rolo is loyal to a fault, when people are critical of Cole and his current play, he is the first to remind everyone of what Cole has meant to the program and all of his accomplishments. I totally agree, I’m not sure if it is injury related, but there is definitely something wrong with Cole. Timing and accuracy are off and he just doesn’t have that swagger and confidence anymore. Since it begins and ends with the quarterback, it appears to have affected everyone, one both sides of the ball, offense and defense. Sometimes you just have to play through it. In the case of Chevan starting next week, I wouldn’t, Cole needs all the confidence he can muster. I’d start Cole, and if he has another UNLV-like game, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull him. But you need to pull him sooner, don’t allow loyalty to hurt the team’s chances for an upset win. I don’t think coach is concerned about Chevan losing a red- shirt year, to far down the road to worry. Just remember you get what you ask for.

  20. Dave Reardon November 18, 2018 2:26 pm

    University of Florida football? I don’t know; maybe very high expectations and standards after several national championships, they’re 9-2 this year. Florida the state? For me personally, what’s wrong with it is it’s not Hawaii (but where else is?). It was interesting but I left there in 2000 because I finally got a full-time job here.

  21. Dave Reardon November 18, 2018 2:27 pm

    That’s also a good consideration. Sometimes coaches let student-athletes decide, or at least have lots of input, and that could be the case here.

  22. Chicken Grease November 18, 2018 3:13 pm

    Don’t start Cordeiro for San Diego State! Are you people crazy?!?

    Leave him home if you gotta. BUT DO NOT START HIM NEXT GAME. Let McDonald have his last hurrah. WE DON’T EVEN NEED THE SDSU game already! If it’s not costly, can it be forfeited, even? If so, do it!

    Che7an will win thr Hawaii Bowl for this year.

    And Che7an can keep his redshirt status.

    Man. Do I have to do ALL the thinking around here?!?

  23. eastside808 November 18, 2018 4:59 pm

    Given the opponent next week, dont think any QB will win this game for us. SDS has the talent and played well against Fresno St that literally ran over and around us. Give Cole a chance and then Moussa and then reps to Chevan for the Bowl game where we and the defense will have a better chance of success. National audience may help us recruit those borderline recruits that dont have the size but certainly the talent and heart to play for UH. Cole really has not been on the same page with the receivers after his injury and is taking way too long to throw the ball (like Browning of Washington). Give him first crack against SDSU and the Moussa. A bowling we are going!!!!

  24. Na Alii Pride November 18, 2018 5:09 pm

    It’s not just pro football that will be an option after 4 years. He could grad transfer too.

  25. dreamcitymike November 18, 2018 8:03 pm

    We need to compete against SDSU, we may be out of contention for conf, but do need to win on the road at SD. Start Chevan with Moussa as back up…let Cole know he’s starting in the bowl game…mb enough time for him to get straight!

  26. braddah November 18, 2018 8:58 pm

    Never mind the red shirt. Play him if you feel he’s our best chance to win. He may be starting his Junior year and get hurt…you just never know.

  27. obake1974 November 20, 2018 12:29 am

    Cordeiro should start period. Can’t worry about what we can’t control four or 5 years from now. What counts is now. The team found inspiration and came back to life. Their riding high, you ride the hot hand. Every game is important. Win now, for all we know the same coaching staff may not be here in 3 or 4 years.

  28. UHFan November 20, 2018 9:30 am

    Someone needs to alert the UH coaches to recruit this guy.

  29. 808hawaiianboarders November 20, 2018 1:38 pm

    Its totally up to the coaches,Chevan, and his parents to decide what will happen. No one else matters
    As for Cole, not all his fault. No controlled roll out play action, no screen plays, no pass plays in the flats to running backs,no quick pitches or option to get outside the D end….. common coaches help him out

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