HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Coming off an emotional 35-28 win over UNLV last Saturday at Aloha Stadium, the Rainbow Warrior football team is now bowl eligible - although a berth in the Hawaii Bowl is still technically up in the air.
Nevertheless, Hawaii is preparing for its game against San Diego State on Saturday as if its a bowl game.
And while there’s no questioning what’s on the line with a win or loss this weekend, there are some questions as to who will be starting under center for the Warriors after freshman Chevan Cordeiro entered the UNLV game in the fourth quarter to spearhead an unforgettable comeback victory.
“It’s a very interesting situation,” said head coach Nick Rolovich. “We have confidence in a bunch of guys to play. We just gotta try to see who gives us the best chance to win.”
While Cole McDonald has been the starter for most of the season, he underperformed against the Rebels at home, allowing Cordeiro to shine late in the game. However, the argument against Cordeiro playing is strong as if suits up and plays against San Diego State, he will have played in his fourth game of the season - his last redshirt game.
If Cordeiro plays against San Diego State, he won’t be able to preserve his redshirt status if he were to go on and play in a potential bowl game. If he doesn’t play on Saturday, he would still be eligible to play in a bowl game, as that would count as game No. 4.
Having said that, the argument can also be made that Cordeiro gives Hawaii the best chance to win after what he did against UNLV, and if Hawaii was to lose on Saturday the Warriors might miss out on a bowl altogether.
Regardless of who does play at quarterback, the team still has a lot of other things to concern itself about going up against a strong Aztecs side looking to end its regular season on a high note.
“They’re a good team and we’re gonna have to fight all week to be prepared for the game on Saturday and just do what’s on our schedule,” said wide receiver JoJo Ward.
The offense looked like its old Run and Shoot self last Saturday in the fourth quarter, but the biggest sign of improvement for Hawaii came on the defensive side of the ball, as Hawaii stuffed UNLV down the stretch including some big defensive stands on third and fourth downs to give its offense the ball back.
Linebacker Penei Pavihi had a career-high 13 tackles including a huge sack in t6he fourth quarter to stop a sure-fire first down from happening. That tenacity and ability to make tackles will be essential in beating the Aztecs, according to the sophomore defensive standout.
“We just need to keep the same morale,” he said. “Back-side pursuit, everything, chasing the near-side hip, tackling because San Diego State is a tough opponent and obviously they like to run a lot so I just feel we need to emphasize on tackling.
The Warriors will take on the Aztecs Saturday at 5:30 p.m. HT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.