HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Last year the Rainbow Warriors posted their highest scoring performance of the regular season against UMass, and Hawaii needed nearly every single point they scored to earn a win that would send them into the postseason.
In 2016 U.H. narrowly edged the Minutemen 46-40. But in Saturday's season opener U.H. could see a much different defense, under the instruction of new D.C. Ed Pinkham.
Last season, after allowing more than 35 points per game, the Minutemen made a move to hire Pinkham as defensive coordinator. In 2016 Pinkham served as D.C. for Western Michigan. He developed a defensive unit that led the MAC in total defense last year and helped the Broncos on an undefeated run to the Cotton Bowl.
So, while Hawaii will be familiar with a plenty of the Minutemen's personnel - UMass returns seven starters from last year's defensive unit - scouting their defense has been a challenge.
"We don't know exactly what they're going to do," said Hawaii quarterback, Dru Brown. "All we can really do is watch some Western Michigan film and kind of expect that. Just the way [Pinkham] got [Western Michigan's] defense to play together - that's the most impressive thing to me."
"New D.C.. New schemes. New energy. [Pinkham] had a lot of success at Western and you know they're returning a lot of guys," said 'Bows head coach, Nick Rolovich. "They've got tons of returning talent on defense and I think you get a new energy in there, and a bunch of hungry seniors or returners, and I think they can do a lot of great things. We can't take them lightly for sure."
For the Rainbow Warriors, facing an x-factor like what Pinkham brings to the UMass defense means that preparation and being able to adapt during the game will be key.
"You basically just prepare what you can," said Brown. "What will really be important are in-game adjustments and communication offensively to figure out what they're doing. They could come out and do something completely different. We just got to adjust and adapt to what they're doing."