Rainbow Warriors ready to start season against Rams

Nick Rolovich begins his third season as head coach of the University of Hawaii football team Saturday when the Rainbow Warriors play Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo. AP file photos

The Maui News

The University of Hawaii football team will get its first test of the year when it takes on Colorado State in its season, road and Mountain West opener on Saturday at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo.

The game is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. HST and will be the third straight season the Rainbow Warriors have played in “Week 0.”

For coach Nick Rolovich, he’s looking forward to seeing what the Rainbow Warriors can do after a rigorous offseason that followed a disappointing 3-9 campaign in 2017.

“They’ve been working hard for this and now we finally get to go and see how we compete against other people,” Rolovich, who is entering his third season as head coach, said in a video posted on the school’s athletic website. “We’ve done a lot of good things and they’re working hard and they’ve given us a lot of effort, but we only get a few times where we get to play together where it means something. This will be a good test for us.”

The Rainbow Warriors’ John Ursua was leading the nation with 131.8 receiving yards per game before suffering a season-ending injury in late October.

The Rams were ranked 11th in total offense in the country last year, going 7-6 with a loss to Marshall in the New Mexico Bowl. They return running back Izzy Matthews, who ranks fifth in school history with 26 career rushing touchdowns, and experienced senior wide receiver Olabisi Johnson.

KJ Carta-Samuels, a graduate transfer from Washington, is set to start at quarterback.

“They got good talent at running back, they got good talent at wide receiver,” Rolovich said. “The quarterback’s a new one, but he’s played some Pac-12 games, so I’m sure as a grad transfer, he’s matured to the point where he understands this is a great opportunity for him.”

The Rainbow Warriors are looking forward to the challenge of stopping one of the top offenses in the country, and they know it starts with trusting each other.

“Between all the players the communication that we have and the love we have for each other — that brotherhood — just wanted to play for one another and playing for the guy next to you, I think if we have that we can win any game,” UH defensive back Rojesterman Farris said.

On offense, the Rainbow Warriors return star receiver John Ursua, whose 2017 season was cut short when he suffered a season-ending injury in a loss to San Diego State in late October. At the time of his injury, Ursua was the nation’s leader at 131.8 receiving yards per game and No. 2 in receptions per game at 9.3.

The biggest question is who will start at quarterback — redshirt sophomore Cole McDonald or true freshman Chevan Cordeiro.

McDonald appeared in seven games last season as a backup to Dru Brown, who has since transfered. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore from La Mirada, Calif., completed five of nine passes for 22 yards and a touchdown, and had 16 carries for 138 yards and another score.

Cordeiro, a graduate of Saint Louis School, led the Crusaders to the state open division championship last year. The 6-1, 190-pounder threw for 440 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-28 win over Kahuku in the title game.

Teva Eldridge — a Baldwin High School graduate and fifth-year senior — is second on the depth chart at defensive end for Hawaii. He is expected to see time at multiple positions on the defensive line.

College Football on TV


1 p.m.–North Carolina A&T vs. Jacksonville St., ESPN

1:30 p.m.–Hawaii at Colorado St., CBSSN

4 p.m.–Wyoming at New Mexico St., ESPN2