The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and California Golden Bears will open the 2016 college football season as a whole tomorrow in Sydney, Australia. Among the many milestones the game will achieve, it will be the first game as a college football head coach for Nick Rolovich.
"You try to double check you lists. Your timeout chart, your two point chart, how you are going to call timeouts. All those situations, you have to run through them in your head," said Rolovich of his last-minute preparations. "There's probably going to be five more that come up, and you just have to react with your heart and the best interests of this football team. And hopefully stay composed in a way that breeds confidence into these young men."
The Rainbow Warriors spent the eve of game day going through one last walk-thru before calling it an early night ahead of Saturday's noon kickoff Australia time.
"Everyone's excited," said sophomore defensive lineman Zeno Choi. "Fans are excited, so we have to give the fans what they're asking and prove people wrong."
Picked to finish last in their Mountain West division, the Rainbow Warriors are a 19.5 point underdog against Cal, but there has been a sense of calm and positivity within the group.
"If they go up 14 or 7, we have to stay within our game and take care of the ball," starting quarterback Ikaika Woolsey said of trying to upset the Bears. "I think if we control the clock and the defense can make some stops, and our offensive lineman keep doing what they do."
Under Sonny Dykes, the Cal offense last season ranked third in the country in passing, eighth in total offense and 17th in scoring.
"We've got to make sure we're good tacklers because I know they have some guys who can make some things happen in space, and we have to play sound defense and communicate," Rolovich said.
Dykes expects a high-scoring affair when the two teams hit the field at ANZ Stadium.
"I think both teams play an exciting brand of football," Dykes said. "We're an up-tempo offense. Hawaii is going to be a team that is very similar in what they're trying to do offensively."
We'll find out tomorrow. Kickoff is set for 4 pm Hawaii time on ESPN.
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