2012 Record: 3-9 (1-7 in MWC)
Head Coach: Norm Chow (second year head coach)
Last Bowl Game: 2010 Hawaii Bowl: lost to Tulsa 62-35
Stadium: Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI (capacity = 50,000)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 25th out of 55 mid-major teams
Conference Games Hawaii Won Last Year: 10/12 at UNLV
Most Likely Conference Wins: 10/26 at Colorado State, 11/23 at Wyoming
Stats to Fear: Allowed opponents to score TDs on 83.72% of red zone trips (last in MWC), allowed 40 sacks (last in MWC), converted on just 33.88% of third downs (last in MWC)
Stat to Cheer: Held opponents to 38.98% on third downs (2nd in MWC)
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 120th out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 10, Defense: 8, Special Teams: 1
Key Defensive Returnees: S Marrell Jackson (57 tackles), MLB Art Laurel (51 tackles, 4 sacks), DE Tavita Woodard (38 tackles, 5.5 sacks), S John Hardy-Tuliau (42 tackles, 3 INT)
Key Offensive Returnees: RB Joey Iosefa (463 yds rush), WR Billy Ray Stutzmann (35 rec)
In Norm Chow's debut season, the Warriors won just three games beating Lamar, UNLV and South Alabama. Those three teams combined to win three games against FBS opponents. Hawaii's offense went from scoring 31.5 ppg to just 21.2 and their defense gave up over six more ppg. Can they bounce back in Chow's second year at the helm?
Hawaii's season could depend a lot on Taylor Graham. Graham is a big 6'5" QB who was rated as a 3-star prospect by Scout.com coming out of high school with accuracy and consistency as two of his strengths. He was also called a good decision maker with good football acumen. He sat the pine for a bit at Ohio State but has been on campus since 2012 so should be familiar with the playbook. The run game took a hit in the off-season as leading rusher Will Gregory (691 yds) is no longer with the team so the Warriors will turn to Joey Iosefa (463 yds rush in 2012, 548 yds rush in 2011). At receiver the leader, Billy Ray Stutzmann, is back but his 35 catches are a far cry from what Hawaii's leaders at that position have put up in the past (119 receptions by Greg Salas in 2010). If the spring game is any indication, keep an eye on WR Chris Gant. The OL has experience with four players returning who have started at least seven games and six players with starting experience. The problem with the line is that it gave up 40 sacks last year and the team also only averaged 2.97 yards per carry.
The Warriors must replace some key pieces on the DL but still have some nice players to build around in Tavita Woodard (5.5 sacks) and Beau Yap (3 sacks, 10.5 TFL). At LB, the Warriors return their top four players and eight of their top nine performers from 2012. The Warriors are deep at LB and it should be a strength of the defense. The secondary also returns depth with three safety's returning. The corners won't be as experienced but they did gain some playing time last year.
The defense should be decent for the Warriors but if the offense was as bad as it was last year then it will put them in bad situations (like last season). Chow hired a new offensive coordinator, Aaron Price, in the off-season so a lot will be on his shoulders. Price was not particularly effective in his previous job at UTEP so it will be a hire to watch. Was it just a bad mix at UTEP? A lot will rest on the shoulders of Taylor Graham.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: