It’s not every week that we’ve had the old feature, the Blogger Q&A, as the college sports blogosphere has dwindled and some old friends have quit, and some of them have been replaced by what by all appearances are AI chatbots. And it’s not every week that I want to go hunt down an old SB Nation blogger whose site got shuttered, as I did when we played Stanford in 2021.
But! This week, we bring the feature back thanks to Jeremy Mauss from Mountain West Wire, a Mountain West site (as you might have expected from the name.) He was happy to answer our questions about Hawaii football ahead of Saturday’s game.
1. Vanderbilt opened last season by beating Hawaii 63-10. Have the Warriors improved since the Commodores last saw them, or should fans expect more of the same?
It honestly can’t be worse than last year. We all knew Hawaii wouldn’t be great under Timmy Chang but felt the opener vs. Vanderbilt last year would have been much closer than a 50-plus point defeat. The Warriors should be better with another year under Chang. Heading into 2022, a lot of transfers left the program due to former coach Todd Graham, so the talent was depleted. They did turn it around later in the year with a few wins and playing much closer.
The run-n-shoot offense should provide more big plays on offense and moving the ball down the field, with the goal of being a better offense led by an experienced quarterback in Brayden Schager but they are still in a massive rebuild. Overall, this should be more competitive.
2. Timmy Chang obviously walked into a difficult situation in his first year. How is he handling the job? Is he going to have a long leash?
He is a fan favorite due to his time playing quarterback and being very successful for the Hawaii Warriors and for years was the all-time leading passer in the NCAA. His leash is long and the athletic department acknowledged this would be a big rebuild, so he will have time. Chang had been part of a good offense with Nevada as their wide receivers coach so this is a big jump and he is learning on the job. Expect him to be able to go through his contract, at the very least.
3. What are Hawaii’s strengths, and who are some players that Vanderbilt fans should look out for?
Their passing game is going to be their strength with their experienced quarterback. They will go four-and five-wide receivers so that should provide some sort of mismatch against this Commodores secondary. Warrior running back Tylan Hines is a good one and last year he averaged 7.64 yards per carry but on just 83 attempts. He will be good but there is no way he will keep that production up by being RB1 for Hawaii.
4. Are there any glaring weaknesses that Vanderbilt can take advantage of?
While the defense will be better it is full of a whole lot of transfers including a legit fridge-sized player in 5-10, 339-pound JUCO transfer Daniel Williams, plus they get a pass rusher from Cal in Patrick Hisatake, and Washington transfer Kuao Peihopa might be the team’s best lineman after a few weeks. That is the key phrasing, it will take a few weeks fort his Warrior defense to figure out how to play with so many new players on this team.
5. Finally, predict the outcome of the game.
Hawaii should be able to score more points with the offense taking more shots and I think they will keep this game close for about a half. Expect Vanderbilt to pull away and win this game by about three touchdowns.