To get a Hawaii point of view on Saturday's match-up against the Rainbow Warriors at Folsom we sat down with Chris Turner of Mountain West Connection for a quick Q&A. You can read our answers to his questions here.
Steven Lakalaka, based on the stats, filled in admirably for Joey Iosefa last week. How do you see him faring against CU, who has been gashed by rushing attacks?
I expect Lakalaka's performance to dip a little against the Buffs, who are a definite step up in talent than Northern Iowa. However, I believe he can have success against CU on the ground this Saturday. He's around the same size as the two RBs who have gone for 100-plus yards vs. the Buffs (Hart, Foster), and think that will definitely be an advantage at getting through the front seven. I'll say he finishes just below 90 yards or so.
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Hawaii has some serious size in their front seven, particularly upfront. What is the best way to attack these massive men or the defense as a whole?
One part of this team that I have been incredibly impressed with to start this year has been the front seven. The rush defense has been great so far, and they've also been creating a lot of pressure in opposing backfields. The pass defense, however, needs some definite work. Sean Mannion gashed this defense with ease, for 300 yards and 3 scores. Watching that game, the Beavers moved the ball down the field with ease behind some mid-range routes up the sidelines. So when it comes to one-on-one situations in coverage, I would unfortunately say the 'Bows would be at a disadvantage and need to improve before conference play starts.
What does CU have to do to stop Ikaika Woolsey from moving the ball downfield?
Definitely sending guys on blitzes more often than not. The past two games, the opposing defenses have been stacking the box with seven or eight guys, and sending a big blitz to follow. (Check out the Oregon State game, especially. Beavers did a great job with this.) Woolsey would make a panicked decision and just throw the ball in the general direction of a receiver. When the pressure comes, he loses his composure and is more likely to make bad passes.
Who are some players CU fans should watch for on offense and defense?
Along with Lakalaka and Woolsey, keep an eye on Quinton Pedroza and Scott Harding on offense. Pedroza, the Utah transfer, has settled into the #1/2 receiver position this year after the loss of the 'Bows top three receivers last year. He's racked up about 200 receiving yards this year, and his size makes him a viable asset in one-on-one throws to the endzone. Harding is the Warriors slotback, with 9 catches for 130 yards. But that's not the reason you should watch him. Along with being a receiver, Harding is the starting Punter and Punt Returner for Hawaii. His unique rugby-style of punting has forced two fumbles on punts this year, and one was recovered by the 'Bows! (It actually set up what would be the game-winning FG vs. Northern Iowa).
On Defense, look out for linebacker Simon Poti. The Junior has 15 tackles to start this season, with two for loss. There are several other names to watch out for in the new 3-4 look installed by former Utah State DC Kevin Clune, but Poti has made the biggest impact in 2014.
How do you see this game playing out?
If Joey Iosefa and Jerrol Garcia-Williams had not been injured, I would say Hawaii could give the Buffs a run for their money and much more. But now, I'm not sure. Ikaika Woolsey is coming off a game where he was pulled in the third quarter from a stalling offense, and I'm not sure where his confidence level is at right now. He'll be going into his first career road start this year, and his early play will dictate how the offense performs for the remainder of the day.
Again, the secondary is a concern, and with a QB like Sefo Liufau who can sling it up field no problem, I'm worried this could be another Mannion situation in waiting if the back line is burned too early. The rush defense should be fine, but they'll have their hands full with a back like Christian Powell rumbling through the offensive line.
I like this one to be close, but CU at home and the lack of Joey Iosefa will make things harder for the Hawaii offense.
Colorado 34, Hawaii 24
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