Game week is finally here. In five days, Michigan will kick off Year 2 of the Jim Harbaugh era against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. While Michigan fans will finally get their first look at the Wolverines, Hawaii already has a game under their belt. Like Michigan last season, Hawaii lead off the college football season, this time with a game against California in Sydney, Australia. And like Michigan last season, it ended in a loss.
Cal beat Hawaii 51-31 on Friday night in a game that didn’t feature much defense from either team. The two offenses piled up over 1,100 total yards, 57 first downs, and 82 points. That’s not surprising given that the two teams ranked 118th and 108th in total defense a year ago.
Any hopes that new Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich had of an improved defense were put on hold for at least another week. Hawaii allowed 630 total yards including 441 through the air. Hawaii’s pass defense was actually respectable in 2015, ranking 42nd nationally, but Texas Tech transfer quarterback Davis Webb carved up the Rainbow Warrior secondary for 441 yards and four touchdowns while completing 70 percent of his passes. Michigan’s receiving corps will be licking its chops after seeing the performance of Cal receiver Chad Hansen, who caught 14 passes for 160 yards and two scores.
Offensively, Hawaii managed 482 total yards, which was more than they had in any game last season. But after a strong first quarter, Hawaii’s offense faded away until the game was well out of reach. Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey completed 17-of34 passes for 234 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, while running back Diocemy Saint Juste rushed for 118 yards and a score on 14 carries (8.4 yards per carry).
Simply looking at Hawaii’s offensive stats shows reason for hope this season, but the defense is still a sieve and it’s hard to see that changing against Michigan this weekend.
Since Michigan has yet to play a game, let’s take a look at how Michigan and Hawaii’s stats compared in 2015.
|Hawaii 2015 team stats & Michigan comparison|
|Hawaii | Michigan||Rank||Defense||Rank|
|Points Per Game||17.6 | 31.4||118 | 50
||35.6 | 16.4||105 | 6|
|Rushing Yards||1,611 | 2,057||3,118 | 1,589|
|Rush Avg. Per Game||123.9 | 158.2||115 | 83
||239.8 | 122.2||118 | 16|
|Avg. Per Rush||3.8 | 4.2
||4.5 | 3.6|
|Passing Yards||2,501 | 3,090||2,716 | 2,060|
|Pass Avg. Per Game||192.4 | 237.7||98 | 53||208.9 | 158.5||42 | 3|
|Total Offense||4,112 | 5,147||5,834 | 3,649|
|Total Off Avg. Per Game||313.6 | 395.9||120 | 69||448.8 | 280.7||104 | 4|
|Kick Return Average||21.3 | 28.4||60 | 3||26.7 | 20.5||123 | 48
|Punt Return Average||7.7 | 11.4||71 | 31||7.5 | 11.5||56 | 95
|Avg. Time of Possession||23:30 | 33:28||127 | 9
||36:30 | 26:32
|3rd Down Conversion Pct||31.0% | 46.0%||120 | 17
||44.0% | 28.0%||99 | 3
|Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards||31-217 | 18-95
||82 | 27
||25-145 | 32-250
||75 | 35
|Touchdowns Scored||29 | 50
||59 | 24
|Field Goals-Attempts||8-11 | 18-22
||17-18 | 15-18
|Red Zone Scores||(24-31) 77%|(52-56) 93%||105 | 7
||(54-62) 87%|(27-34) 79%||93 | 37|
|Red Zone Touchdowns||(20-31) 65%|(37-56) 66%||(41-62) 66%|(14-34) 41%|
|OFEI/DFEI||-1.42| .56||123 | 19||-1.45 | .63||122 | 15|
|Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+||17.9 | 34.7||119 | 32||34.0 | 13.6||99 | 2|
While going 3-10 and 0-8 in the Mountain West Conference, Hawaii ranked near the bottom nationally in most categories, both offensively and defensively. On offense, Hawaii averaged two touchdowns fewer than Michigan, 34 fewer rushing yards, 45 fewer passing yards, and 10 fewer minutes of possession. Hawaii converted just 31 percent of third downs compared to Michigan’s 46 percent and they allowed 13 more sacks.
Defensively, Hawaii allowed nearly 20 more points, 118 more rushing yards, and 50 more passing yards per game than Michigan. They allowed opposing offenses to convert 44 percent of third downs, while Michigan’s defense only allowed 28 percent. They also allowed more than twice as many touchdowns (59 compared to Michigan’s 24) and allowed opponents to convert touchdowns on two-thirds of their red zone trips.
There is one area in which Hawaii fared better than Michigan last season, and that is punt return defense. Michigan gave up 11.5 yards per return, while Hawaii allowed 7.5. But that’s not a category that means a lot in the grand scheme of things, especially when there’s such a discrepancy in all of the other categories.
With nine returning starters on offense and a decent performance against Cal on Friday, there’s a good chance that Hawaii’s offense improves this season. But Michigan’s defense isn’t Cal’s. While Cal’s defense ranked 108th nationally in 2015, Michigan’s ranked fourth. If the Wolverines defense under new defensive coordinator Don Brown lives up to expectations, it will make for a long day for Hawaii.