HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ahead of the 2020 football season, the Rainbow Warrior offensive line was being praised for their continuity and looked to be one of the driving forces for the ‘Bows under new head coach Todd Graham.
Five weeks into the season and the offensive line has become a big question mark for the team, the unit struggling to give quarterback Chevan Cordeiro a clean pocket — getting sacked 19 times this year.
“We take full ownership of that, every time Chevan gets pressured, Chevan gets hit, that’s on the offensive line regardless of where it comes from.” Offensive lineman Taaga Tuulima told reporters. “I take that personally, especially as the center of the offensive line, but again we’re getting together with coaches trying to execute a game plan that gives Chevan time to execute his job.”
The ‘Bows have rotated their starting five recently, which could be the reason for their inconsistency as of late, but Tuulima says that their bond as a position group is strong enough to put anyone in the line up.
“We’re all pretty close coming into this season, so you know we just play with whoever steps up.” Tuulima said.
Kaiser graduate Michael Eletise started the year at left guard because initial starter Kohl Levao re-aggravated a knee injury that sidelined him in 2019. Lavao would make a return in short bursts but was ruled out for the rest of the season after the San Diego State game.
Another switch up on the line came last Saturday against the Broncos, when preseason All-Mountain West tackle Ilm Manning was replaced by redshirt junior Micah Vanterpool — breaking Manning’s streak of 33 consecutive starts at left tackle.
The decision to make the change was made by head coach Todd Graham, who says he’s looking to put the best guys on the field at the same time.
“We’ve got a bunch of talented guys up front, we’ve got to play together and we’ve got to play better as a unit, we weren’t playing at the level we needed to play at.” Coach Graham said. “There’s a guy that’s really really improved and doing things right, you’ve got to develop a unit, so we put the best guys on the field and I ultimately make the decision.”
The new-look offensive line will have a tough test ahead of them, when Nevada comes to Aloha Stadium on Saturday. The Wolf Pack has the fourth ranked defense in the Mountain West — recording 10 sacks on the season.
Kick off between the ‘Bows and the Wolf Pack is set for 6:00 p.m. Hawaii time on Saturday November 28th, on Spectrum pay-per-view.