The Hawaii offense is in the midst of a dramatic change. Gone is their famed run-and-shoot offense, and in is Norm Chow’s balanced pro-set offense. Chow’s offense has been hit and miss since departing BYU in 2000, and the creation of a running game at Hawaii won’t happen overnight.
The Warriors have had just one 1,000-yard rusher since 1992, and were 111th on the ground in 2011. Joey Iosefa started 11 games for Hawaii last season, leading the team with 573 yards. As a big, strong, downhill runner, Iosefa’s role changes in a pro-style offense, as he can slide into a hybrid spot in the backfield, seeing time at fullback and allowing Chow to revert to a two-headed ‘thunder and lightning’ style backfield, in tandem with redshirt freshman Will Gregory.
Gregory, a Compton product, will get his first collegiate start in front of his family, as his grandfather is a grounds crewman at the Coliseum. A 3-star back coming out of Dominguez in 2011, Gregory is the most complete back in the Hawaii backfield, and should become the feature back in the Warriors’ offense fairly quickly.
Through the air, expect Hawaii to be as talented as usual, even with a first-time starter at the helm, Duke-transfer Sean Schroeder. Schroeder, originally from Orange County, was the No. 2 quarterback in Durham, though he never threw a pass for the Blue Devils before graduating and transferring. The 6-foot-3 junior has the talent, being ranked as high at 29th in the nation coming out high school, and it was evident by how quickly he won the job in training camp over Jeremy Higgins and David Graves.
The passing attack won’t be without experience at receiver, as the Warriors return leading receiver Billy Ray Stutzmann. The junior battled a leg injury throughout much of camp, but is set to be the No. 1 option for Chow’s offense come gameday. Stutzmann had 78 catches for 910 yards in 2011, and is a big reason why analyst Phil Steele has the Hawaii receiving corps as the second best in the Mountain West. Other returning receivers include Trevor Davis, who will start opposite of Stutzmann, as well as Jeremiah Ostrowski and Justin Clapp, who will provide experienced depth.
In front of Schroeder is the biggest question mark on offense for Hawaii, as the Warriors have to break in four new starters on the offensive line for the second time in three seasons. Guard Dave Lefotu is the only returning starter, and he’s just a sophomore fresh off of starting seven games as a freshman last year. True freshman Ben Clarke appears to have the center job wrapped up, while Kapua Sai won the left guard spot in the last weekend of camp.
Overall, Hawaii’s offense is a mixed bag. While they have the raw pieces of talent, especially at receiver and running back, a shift in philosophy and a lack of depth up front could prolong the Warriors’ ability to find an identity, even with guru Norm Chow at the helm.
Returning Starters: 6
Key Returners: RB Joey Iosefa, WR Billy Ray Stutzmann, RG Dave Lefotu
Key Losses: QB Bryant Moniz, WR Royce Pollard, OL Clayton Laurel, OL Levi Legay,
Offensive Set: Pro-Style
WR Billy Ray Stutzmann
TE Craig Cofer
LT Blake Muir
LG Kapua Sai
C Ben Clarke
RG Dave Lefotu
RT Sean Shigematsu
WR Scott Harding
QB Sean Schroeder
RB Joey Iosefa
RB Will Gregory