Game Day: Hawaii at UMass
This meeting between UH, a football member of the Mountain West Conference, and independent UMass, is a second date.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
LWO—12 Keelan Ewaliko 5-11 205 Sr.
SB—5 John Ursua 5-10 165 So.
LT—50 Dejon Allen 6-3 290 Sr.
LG—51 John Wa‘a 6-4 315 Sr.
C—65 Asotui Eli 6-4 295 Jr.
RG—60 Chris Posa 6-4 290 Sr.
RT—64 Fred Ulu-Perry 6-2 305 So.
TE—7 Metuisela ‘Unga 6-5 240 Sr.
RWO—80 Ammon Barker 6-4 215 Sr.
QB—2 Dru Brown 6-0 200 Jr.
RB—22 Diocemy Saint Juste 5-8 195 Sr.
The offense features something old (run-and-shoot concepts), something new (right-side blockers Chris Posa and Fred-Ulu Perry), something borrowed (Nevada’s pistol running game, Occidental’s run-pass option), and something blue (Boise State’s pre-set motions and multiple personnel groups). To create mismatches and designed chaos, the Warriors have mixed and matched formations and schemes. They can go to a power formation pairing tight end Metuisela ‘Unga with H-back Dakota Torres in the backfield or on the line; or accelerate with Dylan Collie and John Ursua in a double slot or four-wide alignment, or a combo with wideouts Keelan Ewaliko and Ammon Barker providing a stretch threat, jump-ball dimensions or downfield blocking. Not only can each offensive lineman play multiple spots, but the receivers also have cross-trained to align tight or wide. The Warriors scored on 89.8 percent of their red-zone visits, in part to short-yardage runner Steven Lakalaka and high-jumping Marcus Kemp. Both completed their eligibility in December. Diocemy Saint Juste, who rushed for 1,006 yards but was blanked on 13 red-zone carries, is expected to be used more on screens and short-yardage situations. Brown, who was 6-4 as a starter, was an accurate passer (a midseason streak of 118 passes without a pick) and bootleg runner (6.33 yards per non-sack scramble or keeper).
LE—3 David Manoa 6-3 240 Sr.
NT—91 Samiuela Akoteu 6-2 320 So.
DT—98 Viane Moala 6-7 270 So.
RE—97 Meffy Koloamatangi 6-5 240 Sr.
SLB—27 Solomon Matautia 6-1 230 So.
MLB—31 Jahlani Tavai 6-4 235 Jr.
WLB—44 Russell Williams Jr. 6-1 230 Sr.
LCB—14 Manu Hudson-Rasmussen 6-0 185 Jr.
FS—39 Trayvon Henderson 6-0 200 Sr.
SS—4 Daniel Lewis Jr. 5-11 180 Jr.
RCB—Rojesterman Farris II 6-1 180 So.
The line was hit hard when Jamie Tago and Ka’aumoana Gifford were suspended, defensive tackle Kennedy Tulimasealii was not reinstated, and Kory Rasmussen and Makani Kema-Kaleiwahea graduated. But under Legi Suiaunoa, who was promoted to coordinator, the 4-3 base added options. Samiuela Akoteu and Kiko Faalologo can provide an interior push while 6-7 Viane Moala can obscure the lane on inside screens or check-down passes. Meffy Koloamatangi and David Manoa are edge setters and pass rushers. Zeno Choi is the hold-the-point end that was prominent in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 3-4 scheme. Jahlani Tavai is a roving middle linebacker who also can align on the edge, in coverage, or as a stand-up nose. In sub-packages, the Warriors can replace a linebacker with a rover or nickel corner. Dany Mulanga and Ikem Okeke have been considerations at rover. Because of injuries and other situations, safeties Daniel Lewis and Trayvon Henderson have started only one game together the past three years. Lewis has fully recovered from a sports hernia, and Henderson has emerged as a center fielder who also can blitz. Teammates voted Lewis and Henderson as two of four co-captains.
PK/KO—46 Ryan Meskell 6-0 180 So.
PK—46 Alex Trifonovitch 6-1 180 So.
P/H—99 Stan Gaudion 6-3 210 Fr.
LS/SS—1 Noah Borden 6-1 215 Jr.
KR—12 Keelan Ewaliko 5-11 200 Sr.
P—45 John Ursua 5-10 165 So.
Triathlete Rigo Sanchez completed his eligibility eight months ago, sending the Warriors on a search for replacements on punts, point-scoring kicks and kickoffs. Ryan Meskell, an Australian who has not played in an American football game, has the leg strength for kickoffs and long field-goal attempts. Stan Gaudion, also an Australian, is the punter and holder. Brodie Nakama’s promotion to special-teams intern means Noah Borden will handle all snapping.
QB—7 Andrew Ford 6-3 210 Jr. or QB—2 Ross Comis 6-0 195 Jr.
FB—45 Malik Lee 6-1 270 Sr.
RB—8 Marquis Young 6-1 215 Jr.
WR—23 Andy Isabella 5-10 195 Jr.
TE—81 Adam Breneman 6-5 255 Sr.
WR—6 Sadiq Palmer 6-2 195 So.
LT—57 Ray Thomas-Ishman 6-5 350 So.
LG—74 Lukas Kolter 6-4 315 Jr.
C—72 Derek Dumals 6-4 330 So.
RG—79 Jake Largay 6-4 325 Jr.
RT—58 Jack Driscoll 6-5 300 So.
In spy-vs.-spy one-upmanship, it was leaked that Ross Comis, whose 2016 season ended prematurely because of a knee injury, and Andrew Ford will split the quarterback work. While at least a series will be scripted for Comis, southpaw Ford is not a left-handed complement. He’s a better passer, especially when he’s throwing to high school buddy Adam Breneman, one of the nation’s top tight ends. Breneman uses his speed (4.62 over 40 yards) to draw attention from safeties and corners, and quick-cut moves to get open on crosses, curls and delayed zig-zags. Breneman had zero drops in 93 targets last year, and teamed with Ford on 68.8-percent accuracy. Breneman also is a deceptive blocker when he aligns as an H-back or slides across the backfield on jet sweeps. “My old coach used to say if you can’t block, you’re just a big, slow wide receiver at tight end,” Breneman said. Breneman, who transferred from Penn State after earning a bachelor’s degree in 2016, opted to delay applying for the NFL Draft. The move enables Breneman to earn a master’s and master the position. “Just another year to mature, and get my body stronger and faster, and understand the game better,” said Breneman, who is finalizing an insurance policy to protect against a draft-diminishing injury. Receiver Andy Isabella is a converted running back who once set a national record with a 6.72-second finish in the 60-yard dash. He had 15 catches of 15-plus yards last year.
DE—4 Da’Sean Downey 6-4 230 Sr.
DT—90 Au Ali-Musa 6-2 275 Sr.
DT—95 Sha-Ki Holines 6-4 265 Sr.
DE—61 Joe Previte 6-2 265 Jr.
OLB—6 Bryton Barr 6-0 225 Sr.
MLB—34 Steve Casali 6-1 245 Sr.
OLB—6 Tedrick Lowery 6-1 225 Sr.
CB—3 Lee Moses 5-11 200 Jr.
SS—27 Jesse Monteiro 5-10 190 Sr.
FS—30 Tyler Hayes 6-0 215 Jr.
CB—9 Isaiah Rodgers 5-10 175 So.
New coordinator Ed Pinkham was the defensive half of a Western Michigan team that went 13-0 in the regular season a year ago. Not following P.J. Fleck to Minnesota or retained at WMU, Pinkham received an offer from UMass coach Mark Whipple. Both were at New Hampshire in the 1980s. This offseason, Pinkham implemented a 4-3 scheme, which isn’t much different from last year’s 3-4, when a stand-up linebacker joined three hand-in-the-dirt linemen. Inside linebacker Steve Casali also blitzed the middle to overload the tackle box. This time, Da’Sean Downey moves from outside backer to align as a rush end. Casali is now alone in the middle, giving him the freedom to track and attack the running back or disturb crossing patterns. The Minutemen can defend with a lone safety, a two-deep zone, or a six-man wall across the second tier. The best defense is sure tackling. At one point last year, WMU averaged five missed tackles per game, fourth best among FBS schools. “Coach Pinkham is the man,” Casali said. “He brought the plus-3 culture. Plus-3 is doing more than what’s expected of you. If you’re running off the field, don’t stop at the sideline. Go plus 3 (yards). Do more.”
KO—31 Mike Caggiano 5-10 180 Jr.
PK/P—99 Logan Laurent 6-4 220 Sr.
LS—53 Nick Berus 6-0 220 Sr.
H—37 Andrew Libby 6-0 240 Sr.
KR/PR—9 Isaiah Rodgers 5-10 175 So.
The Minutemen’s do-everything specialist — Logan Laurent — might be cutting his workload after serving as the primary punter and place-kicker last season. He averaged 41.6 yards on 62 punts, including 13 that exceeded 50 yards. and converted his final six 3-pointers. “We’re going to try to save his leg,” Whipple said, noting there are two other punters and a place-kicker on the active roster. Mike Caggiano will handle kickoffs, and second-year freshman Michael Schreiner will get a chance to punt.