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July 3, 2022

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Take Five: Getting to know Hawaii

Warriors’ always-prolific offense looks to feast on struggling UNLV defense in Rebels’ home opener

Bryant Moniz

AP FILE PHOTO

Hawaii senior quarterback Bryant Moniz, who threw for 5,040 yards and 39 touchdowns as a junior in 2010, has proven to be just as dangerous with his legs as he is with his accurate right arm so far in 2011. He’ll lead the Warriors into Sam Boyd Stadium for a 7 p.m. clash with UNLV Saturday night.

The Rebel Room

Here come's Hawaii

Ryan Greene and Ray Brewer take a closer look at this weekend's UNLV home opener at Sam Boyd Stadium, as the struggling Rebels defense will hardly have a soft landing from its two tough road trips, welcoming in the always prolific Hawaii Warriors for a Saturday night showdown. Does UNLV have a chance? What type of result would be considered a success?

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UNLV and Hawaii will square off at Sam Boyd Stadium on Saturday night in the Rebels’ 2011 home opener, and if you’re looking for recent trends to help determine the outcome, there are a couple of options.

If you look back over the last few seasons, UNLV has had decent success at home against Hawaii, taking three of the last four meetings in Las Vegas. The most recent was a 34-33 thriller in 2009, when Phillip Payne caught a game-winning touchdown pass over Warriors corner Tank Hopkins in the final minute.

But maybe a bit more realistic is basing a prediction off of UNLV’s performances — specifically on the defensive side of the ball — over its last two games, when the Rebels allowed a total of 1,109 yards of offense and 110 points.

Before that, in the Rebels’ 2010 season finale, they were stomped by the Warriors in Honolulu, 59-21, giving up 606 yards of total offense to a 10-win Hawaii team who had scored big on pretty much everyone it faced to that point.

This game could go in either direction: It could be another rough outing against a pass-happy offense reminiscent of last Saturday’s 59-7 throttling at Washington State, or UNLV’s offense could find its rhythm again and turn it into an entertaining shootout.

Either way, here’s what you need to know about UNLV’s upcoming visitors, who the Rebels will tussle with a 7 p.m. The game can be seen on The Mtn.

    • Bryant Moniz
      Photo by AP FILE PHOTO

      1. Moniz is money

      Over the years, Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense has made stars out of several prolific passers. Senior Bryant Moniz is the latest to join that line.

      Moniz erupted as a junior in 2010, throwing for 5,040 yards and 39 touchdowns while completing 65 percent of his passes. Though several of his key weapons graduated and moved on after last season, he's still putting up strong numbers to this point.

      In Hawaii's first two games, he's completed 65.4 percent of his throws for 511 yards and two touchdowns, but it's clear that the new guys around him are still getting comfortable. A year ago, he averaged 360 passing yards and 2.8 touchdown tosses a game. So far this year, those averages are at 255.5 and one, respectively.

      Where he appears to be more dangerous, though, is with his legs. He ran for 102 yards and four touchdowns all of last season. But so far in 2011, he has 123 yards on 23 attempts and four scores.

    • Sterling Jackson
      Photo by AP FILE PHOTO

      2. Struggling on the run

      Last season, part of what made Moniz so dangerous was the lingering threat of a strong running attack, keeping opposing defenses honest.

      Hawaii has never been known for its standout running backs, but Alex Green certainly is being missed so far this season. He carried the ball just over 10 times a game last season for the Warriors, but rushed for 1,163 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging eight yards per carry.

      He also caught 27 passes for 368 yards before going on to be a third-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers.

      Hawaii starts four seniors on the offensive line, but its young running backs are still getting settled. Freshman Joey Iosefa and junior Sterling Jackson so far have combined for only 102 yards on 29 carries.

      The UNLV run defense is allowing an average of 190 rushing yards per game so far this season, so Hawaii’s offense might be able to strike a little bit better balance come Saturday night.

    • Corey Paredes
      Photo by AP FILE PHOTO

      3. Stingy front

      Hawaii’s experienced defensive front has definitely delivered so far against the run. Of the Warriors’ front seven, five are seniors. They rank 27th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs in run defense.

      That ranking is largely aided by their opening night performance against Colorado, when they held the Buffs to just 28 rushing yards. That number was chopped down thanks to seven quarterback sacks, but they still held Colorado starting tailback Rodney Stewart to 52 yards on 18 carries.

      Washington’s Chris Polk found more success than Stewart did a week ago, racking up 107 yards on 22 totes, but still, Hawaii’s defensive front won’t break easily. They’ve recorded nine sacks in two games, and UNLV’s young offensive line will have to perform much better than it did a week ago at Washington State.

      The guy to watch for is senior linebacker Corey Paredes, a preseason All-WAC selection who had four tackles, a stop for loss and an interception last year against the Rebels.

    • UNLV vs. Hawaii
      Photo by Sam Morris

      4. Neutral site advantage?

      The makeup of the Sam Boyd Stadium crowd Saturday night could be intriguing. Las Vegas is typically referred to as Hawaii’s ninth island, and last time the Warriors played in town, it showed.

      They’ll likely again have plenty of support in the stands this time around, while UNLV’s might be fleeting. Even though the Rebels have yet to play a home game in 2011, last weekend’s rout at Washington State in a game many expected them to be competitive in may have killed off a good amount of the buzz the program had coming into this season, and some fans may opt to stay home.

      Either way, Hawaii won’t be suffering from any form of jet lag. They flew straight to Vegas following their game at Washington a week ago and have been living out of suitcases here in town since then while training and practicing at Bishop Gorman High School.

    • Royce Pollard
      Photo by AP FILE PHOTO

      5. The X-factor

      If the skill position guys are going to rally around Moniz and become as fluid a group as last year’s was, it’s going to start with senior receiver Royce Pollard. He’s Hawaii’s top returning receiver from a year ago, when he caught 64 passes for 901 yards and seven touchdowns.

      So far this year, he has 12 catches for 157 yards and no scores but could have his first monster outing against a UNLV secondary that ranks 118th in the FBS against the pass. He had seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown a year ago against the Rebels.

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