Complicating Ohio State’s task of getting ready to play Hawaii is the fact that coach Norm Chow has a new offensive coordinator transitioning the Rainbow Warriors to an uptempo spread, a new defensive coordinator moving the team from a 4-3 to a 3-4, and a new special teams coordinator breaking in a new kicker/punter and new punt returner.
The Bows have a new quarterback, too. At least, he’s new to the Hawaii roster. Max Wittek transfered in from USC, where he played from 2012-2013, recording 3 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. He struggled a bit with turnovers in the opener as well, throwing two picks against Colorado. In all fairness, though, he was throwing quite a bit (38 attempts) and also managed three touchdowns and 202 yards in the 28-20 win.
Hawaii’s leading receiver from a year ago, Marcus Kemp, caught six of Wittek’s passes. He was part of a committee of seven players with a reception.
Joey Iosefa was taken in the seventh round of the NFL Draft, and–in his absence–Steven Lakalaka was expected to carry the load of the running game. However, it was Columbus’s own Paul Harris who was the most productive against Colorado. Harris was at Reynoldsburg his freshman and sophomore year of high school. He eventually landed at Marion Franklin and was second-team All-State after a senior campaign in which he averaged 11.2 yards/rush.
Hawaii’s offensive line returns three starters, including Ben Clarke, who has 37 starts under his belt. He moved from center to left tackle last season.
As mentioned, Hawaii’s defense is shifting to a 3-4 this season, and nobody took advantage of the change more in game one than former Navy SEAL Luke Shawley, who registered his first career sack and a team-high 14 tackles. Kennedy Tulimasealii
is the team’s other defensive end, and led Hawaii with 9.5 tackles-for-loss a year ago.
Despite losing two starters, the Rainbow Warriors return a great deal of experience at linebacker. They have four players at that position who totaled 20 or more tackles last year, paced by Simon Poti.
Still, for all their experience, Hawaii gave up 215 yards rushing to Colorado, so the front seven is still a work in progress.
They did a slightly better job stopping the Buffaloes from passing, holding Colorado to 4.0 yards/pass (158 yards on 40 pass attempts). And that’s not a surprise when you consider that Hawaii brought back 3 of their starters in the secondary. That group is led by Trayvon Henderson, who had 63 tackles and 2 picks last season. Meanwhile, cornerback Nick Nelson had 11 tackles in opening game. And Ne’Quan Phillips, all 5’9″ of him, added 6 tackles, 2 TFLs from his spot as a corner, even though he didn’t start.
This Saturday will mark the first time these teams have met.