HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Warriors are reaching the halfway point of their abbreviated eight-game season, heading back to the mainland this week for a must-win game against San Diego State.
The 'Bows are looking to get their third win of the season to stay in the race to make it back to the Mountain West Championship game.
“The winner of this game puts themselves in a great position to move forward, you can’t afford to lose this game, period.” Coach Graham told reporters. “Obviously, there’s no divisions this year so it’ll boil down to the two best records and who beat who and all of that.”
Last year, the game between the Warriors and the Aztecs determined which team went to the Championship game and with only eight games this season, this year’s battle is just as important for UH’s chase for a Mountain West title.
“We’ve got to play our best game this week, whatever its an abbreviated season and all of the stuff that’s going on, everybody else has the same deal.” Coach Graham said. “Now we’ve gone through three games, we’ve got a body of work and we know what needs to be done.”
In each game so far, the 'Bows offense has struggled to move the ball down the field and score early in games, something UH cannot afford to do against the Aztecs, says wide receiver Jared Smart.
“Definitely need to come out fast and come out making all of our marks and hitting all of our plays, just the ways that we kind of have come out in the other games,” Smart said. “You know we can’t afford it for this type of game.”
Last week, Smart made a spectacular Randy Moss-like catch on a two-point conversion to expand Hawaii’s lead over New Mexico.
Another playmaker for the 'Bows last week was Quentin Frazier, the hybrid defensive player made a game-sealing interception after spending most of the week in a walking boot not sure if he would be active for UH’s game against the Lobos.
Going into this week, Frazier and his defensive teammates are treating Saturday’s match up like it’s a championship game.
“This game is huge, you know we have the mindset of just you know we’re a championship team, we have that mindset, so this is the next game that we have in front of us.” Frazier said. “It’s a new opportunity, we know that in order for us to be in that championship game, we have to come out with that win, so we’ve had a championship mindset all week.”
Saturday will also serve as a homecoming for Frazier, who grew up in San Diego, even though the game is going to be played in Carson, California.
“Not exactly San Diego, but just to be in California will be awesome, i’ll have a chance to see my family briefly and then go out there and hopefully get that win, so really looking forward to it.” Frazier said.
Going into the midway of the 2020 schedule, UH has yet to find their identity as a team, so Saturday’s match up will be an uphill battle for the 'Bows according to coach Graham, but his team is ready to take on the challenge that is waiting for them in Carson.
“It’s a big challenge for us this weekend, but heck, that’s what it’s all about, that’s what you sign up for, our players know that they know the team that won this game last year played for the championship.” Coach Graham said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to go and fight and scratch, know that we’re going to be in a dog fight on the road, just figure out a way to win.”
The 'Bows kick off from the SubHub Center this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Hawaii time — the game is available to purchase on Spectrum pay-per-view.