University of Hawaii football needs to prevent Air Force from playing keep-away
Possession, it has been said, is nine-tenths of the law. For Air Force’s offense, possession is 57 percent of the time it controls the ball in a football game.
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Possession, it has been said, is nine-tenths of the law.
For Air Force’s offense, possession is 57 percent of the time it controls the ball in a football game.
The Hawaii football team is mindful of military time entering today’s nationally televised game against Air Force at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
“The possessions are so very important against this team,” UH coach Nick Rolovich said. “You won’t get as many. And (the Falcons) are difficult to stop.”
The Rainbow Warriors averaged 13.3 possessions in their first six games. The Falcons, relying on a clock-siphoning, triple-option offense, averaged 11 drives per game. Air Force opponents have been limited to 10.7 possessions per game. Last week, Fresno State amassed 43 plays overall, of which only 13 plays for 20 yards and no points were achieved after halftime.
“I was never much of a huge time-of-possession guy,” Rolovich said. “I think it’s a stat that allows you to put the blame on one side of the ball. I think points per possession is a much more fair, much more effective way to judge your team. We’ve got decent points per possession. Air Force has really good points per possession.”
The Falcons have accumulated 200 points on offensive touchdowns, point-after kicks, conversion plays and field goals. That equates to 3.1 points per possession. The Warriors average 2.55 points per drive.
Both teams have extended drives by holding back their kicking units. The Warriors have gone for it 15 times on fourth down; the Falcons have had 12 fourth-down plays.
Rolovich said the Warriors’ goal is to eliminate giveaways and force more stops.
“Any stop is huge,” Rolovich said. “It’s a game that reminds me of arena football. One turnover, one stop on fourth down, one point really could be the difference in the game.”
A significant difference is the Falcons’ makeover. In the last meeting, in 2016, the average Falcons defensive lineman weighed 265 pounds. Now, due in part to 330-pound nose tackle Mosese Fifita — the heaviest starter in the program’s history — the average is up to 277 pounds. In 2016, wideout Jalen Robinette was the Falcons’ lone deep threat. This year, Donald “D.J.” Hammond has vertical targets in Geraud Sanders and Benjamin Waters. Hammond is averaging 52.2 yards on his five touchdown passes.
“There are some stereotypes that hold true with this (Air Force team), and some that don’t,” Rolovich said. “Yes, they will be disciplined. Yes, they will be tough. They will play together. They’ll play hard, and with great effort. The thing that’s different about this particular Air Force squad is they seemed to have increased and improved the body types they’re putting on the field. … This is a very talented Air Force team to go along with the discipline and schematic issues they cause.”