Okay, freshman quarterback Chevon Cordeiro was the hero of Hawaii’s 17-13 victory over the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday. HOWEVER, there were so many defensive highlights we must give them their due! And not just because Outside Linebackers Coach Jacob Yoro was today’s Nā Koa Luncheon speaker who pointed out some great plays, but because there were…and many!

Four of Hawaii’s five sacks came via the D line: two by Kaimana Padello and one each by Zeno Choi and Samiuela Akoteu. For the season, 11 of 19 sacks are attributed to the front line.

Wyoming opened play with wider splits than expected so it took a bit of time to adjust. Outstanding, allowing 244 yards (63 on one running play).

Defensive End Padello is the first guy in the meetings said Yoro. On the line everyone slides to Jahlani Tavai’s side and tend to ignore Padello but as the game goes on, running backs are chipping him and tackles flail at him trying to slow him down.

Penei Pavihi’s development enables coaches to place Jahlani Tavai in multiple positions strengthening the Bows’ alignment. Pavihi led the team with 10 tackles, Solomon Matautia tallied 9, and Tavai added 8 tackles.

Defensive Backs
“Playing through the ball” loomed large in Hawai’i’s win. Both plays occurred in the fourth quarter. The first success limited Wyoming to a field goal for a 13-10 lead and the second denied them a winning TD!

Coach Yoro explained the defensive technique where Kaylen Hicks, although breaking late to the ball, got his hands inside the Cowboy tight end’s reception sphere and disrupted it just enough to get the end to drop the ball in the end zone.

Eugene Ford did the same in the left corner catching up to a streaking receiver and getting his hands in to cause the drop. Without those two plays . . . WHEW!!!

Coach Yoro marveled at the players’ hard work and selflessness. Different players played different roles and different players had significant impacts in different games.

Capping off is another technique Coach Yoro showed where the forward momentum of a ball carrier is sealed off to prevent additional yardage. That kind of play bodes well for stripping the ball which is something being emphasized to the defense who has caused 12 fumbles, but recovered only two.

That desperate last drive with 1:19 left in the game was nothing new to the Hawai’i football defense as they practice that very scenario every week. They were also coached well enough to know you need three seconds on the clock to spike the ball so knew the game was over at the attempted spike (there was just one second on the clock at the time).

After the quintuple overtime win against San Jose State, the Warriors’ practice was altered a bit… reducing conditioning and number of reps for starters. We wanted to salvage the players’ legs said Yoro.

Coach Yoro appreciated the crowd noise at the game and confirmed the players hear it and respond to it! In fact, the defense had to call timeout with seconds left in the game to make sure they were all on the same page because the volume made hearing difficult…but Yoro loves it and wants MORE!!!

Written by Gareth Sakakida