HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With just one week until the Rainbow Warriors opening game at UMass the 'Bows defense is focusing in on shutting down some of the Minutemen's most powerful weapons. For Hawaii, UMass's offense will present a number of familiar foes. The Minutemen return seven starters from their 2016 squad on the offensive side of the ball including quarterback Andrew Ford, and standout tight end, Adam Breneman.
"They're good football players," said Hawaii defensive coordinator, Legi Suiaunoa. "They do a nice job in the scheme that they use. So, for us it's just paying attention to the details of making sure that we don't have mistakes that they can take advantage of."
Breneman, who transferred from Penn State prior to the 2016 season, led UMass in receiving yards, receptions, and touchdowns last season. He's considered the team's top NFL prospect and was selected as a preseason all-American third-team honoree this year.
Ford, a Virginia Tech transfer, who earned his starting spot mid-season last year, got the nod thanks in part to his on-field connection with Breneman. The chemistry they share is actually the result of a long-time friendship.
However, it isn't giving Ford a leg-up this season. Head coach, Mark Whipple has not yet named Ford the starting QB. In fact in recent days he's said that Ford and fellow quarterback Ross Comis could both see time in next weekend's season opener against U.H. But, the 'Bows say they're focusing on being prepared no matter what look the Minutemen present.
"We got to make sure we're doing our jobs," said junior linebacker, Jahlani Tavai about how the 'Bows defense is preparing for next Saturday. "We're just making sure that we communicate because if we don't communicate it's going to be a mental bust... great teams capitalize on mistakes. They did that last year. So, we got to make sure we don't make this year."
Last season those mistakes allowed UMass to score 40 points on Hawaii at Aloha Stadium. D.C., Suiaunoa says preventing a repeat performance has his players intensifying their focus on the field and in the film room to prepare for the variety of looks the Minutemen can present.