Week Zero Preview: Arizona Wildcats vs Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
By: Tony Thomas
August 21, 2019
The second game of week zero this Saturday is the Arizona Wildcats vs Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
Arizona underachieved in year one of the Kevin Sumlin era, going 5-7 and missing the postseason. They return QB Khalil Tate (2530 yards, 26 TD’s, 8 INT’s) who was limited in 2018 due to injury, and RB J.J. Taylor (1434 yards, 6 TD’s). They have 4 starters back on the offensive line, but Tate will throw to an inexperienced corps of receivers. They averaged 31 points per game and gained 458 yards of total offense per game in 2018.
Arizona’s defense returns experience on the D-line, in the secondary, and at linebacker (Jr. Colin Schooler, 119 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 18 TFL’s and Jr. Tony Fields, 89 tackles). As a unit, they allowed 32 points per game and 432 yards of total offense.
Hawaii, coached by Nick Rolovich, comes off an 8-6 record and a 31-14 loss to La Tech in the Hawaii Bowl. But they return 9 starters on offense and 9 starters on defense. The offense is led on the field by Jr. QB Cole McDonald (3875 yards, 36 TD’s, 10 INT’s passing, 359 yards, 4 TD’s rushing). McDonald will be protected by a veteran offensive line, as all 5 starters return. He will throw to 2 senior WR’s in Cedric Byrd (79 catches, 970 yards, 9 TD’s and JoJo Ward, 51 receptions for 865 yards, 9 TD’s). Also, the top 3 running backs are back. The offense scored 30 points per game and gained 420 yards of total offense per game in 2018.
The Rainbow Warriors on defense will be experienced, as starters return on the D-line (led by Kaimana Padello with 8.5 sacks last year), at linebacker, and in the secondary. But they did give up 35 points per game and allowed opponents to gain 440 yards of total offense per game.
Arizona is favored by 11 points. But I believe this game is a toss-up. My pick to win: Hawaii
Thanks for reading.
Material for this article sourced from: Phil Steele’s 2019 College Football Preview, vol. 25, pages 1-352.