“Execution is not all the way we need it to be…we’re still leaving a lot of points on the field.” Really? After 59 points scored? Skies the limit? HECK YES!

Associate Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Brian Smith spoke at today’s Nā Koa Coach’s Lunch at Willows to a capacity crowd of over 100 and said of some pass plays, “We should be getting touchdowns instead of 20-25 yard gains. We have a lot more room to get better. There is no such thing as “we have arrived” to be a good offense.”

Coach added that the team needs to see their options better; receivers need to run their plays sharper; and offensive line needs to react quicker and get better with their hands. The video showed all these to be true. Fortunately, there were positive yards gained, even a touchdown, in spite of not being perfect.

Quarterback Cole McDonald is being timed from snap to throw at 2.02 seconds and that INCLUDES sacks and rollouts! He is throwing long with accuracy and great touch. His 1-2-3 ball is out which makes it easier for the O-line to protect him. The O-line had a great game protecting McDonald AND for being penalized just once for five yards!

A great addition to the playbook is the QB run which is great for third down and medium to long because it creates more attacking avenues. Coaches spent time teaching McDonald to place passes under receivers’ chin straps on pass routes to the flats and he has been very accurate to gain those 8-9 yards. However, on the RPO’s Coach Smith said you don’t always want to go long on the fourth down when the receiver at the first down marker is open. The audience hesitantly agreed with gritted teeth since JoJo Ward grabbed a TD pass on that play.

On the receiving end, Smith said when you have kids (Ward, John Ursua, and Cedric Byrd) who can run, it makes things easier. Byrd and Ward had no Division I offers probably because of their 5’9″ syndromes. But, they can run and that was all Coach Mouse Davis (“godfather” of the run and shoot offense) needed, and so goes Hawai’i. Byrd was offered mid-year and Ward began as a walk-on but received a scholarship right away.

How does an opponent counter Hawai’i’s speed? By having the referee send them off for not having their pants covering their knees and knee pads. John Ursua was tagged twice for that during the game.

At running back, Fred Holly III carried 17 times for 82 yards and a TD giving him 33 carries for 150 yards in two games. Coach Smith was happy to get Miles Reed into the game but wanted to get Dayton Furuta more playing time.

Speaking of playing time, Hawai’i used quarterback Kolney Cassell to mop up the game rather than burn one of four redshirt threshold games for Chevan Cordeiro in that limited role.

The kids are excited about this offense and are having fun playing with each other. That is a tribute to the new coaching staff getting everyone rowing the same way. The base offense is installed and now it is a matter of small adjustments based on coverages they see. Players are coached on what they are going to see and how to attack it with their package.

Rice is the next opponent and Hawai’i expects to see what Michigan had last year as Brian Smith (a different one), the Owls’ new defensive coordinator spent the past two years as the Wolverines defensive backs coach.

Hawai’i fans are excited once again and it is due in no small part to the Quarterback’s accurate passes, the receivers’ great hands and flat out speed, and the O-line’s great discipline. Minimizing drive deflators and maximizing end zone jaunts bring us HAPPY DAYS again.

Written by Gareth Sakakida