PROVO — We caught up with Stephen Tsai of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser to gain better perspective on the team BYU faces Friday night. Tsai covers the Hawaii football beat and knows the team as well as anyone.
1. How has Norm Chow been received as the head coach at Hawaii? How is he regarded by Hawaii fans?
From his opening news conference, there was enthusiasm for Chow, mostly because of his pledge to make local recruiting a priority and to "chase championships." That phrase, by the way, has become a T-shirt slogan, joining "Chow Time."
2. What changes has Chow brought to the Hawaii football program? What are the expectations fans have of the program with Chow in charge? Most noticeable was the change in offensive and defensive schemes. Chow implemented a pro-set offense (from the run-and-shoot) and 3-4 defense with man-to-man concepts (from a 4-3 front that employed a four-deep zone). He also has emphasized the team concept. Players were told to cut their hair. Names were removed from the back of jerseys. The team now practices in the afternoon instead of the morning. Also, loud music blares from the speakers during practices.
There's logic to his methods. The music forces players to focus through distractions. Not having names on the jerseys promotes the team over individuals. The pro set offense, which includes a tight end and H-back/fullback — positions that did not exist in UH's schemes the previous 13 years — boosts the running game which, in turn, milks the clock and gives more rest to the defense. As for fans' expectations, they know this is a rebuilding phase. It is not known if the honeymoon comes with an expiration date.
3. Who are some of the players that can give BYU trouble on offense? Who are the play-makers of that group? If running back Joey Iosefa is healthy, he's a threat as a runner, blocker, receiver and passer. He moonlights as the wildcat. Sophomore receiver Trevor Davis has big-play potential.
4. Who are some of the standout defensive players? Their best defensive lineman, nose tackle Moses Samia, is out for the year because of an ACL injury. Cornerback Mike Edwards is a shut-down defender vital to UH's man-to-man schemes.
5. What has led to some of Hawaii's early season struggles? What is being done to rectify its difficulties, particularly on the defensive end? UH's biggest problem was facing two very good teams. The opener was on the road, before the largest crowd in UH history (93,000), against then-No. 1 USC. Nevada created problems because it runs a two-player option within the framework of four-wide attack. The Warriors also missed a lot of tackles.