Oct. 23—It will be a football game of firsts when Hawaii and New Mexico State meet for the second time in 28 nights.
This will be the Rainbow Warriors' first on-campus football game with fans in the program's history. The first three games at the retrofitted Ching Complex this season were without fans because of the state's COVID-19 protocols. A maximum 1, 000 tickets were issued for tonight's game, including two apiece to each Warrior and a total of 90 for UH-Manoa student body. The life of former UH quarterback Colt Brennan, who died in May, will be celebrated during the nonconference game.
The Aggies, who compete as an independent, are seeking their first victory in this 10th meeting between the teams. The Warriors won the first of this home-and-home series last month in Las Cruces, N.M. NMSU coach Doug Martin consulted with NFL contacts on how to play an opponent for the second time in a regular season. Martin also received advice from some coaches in the Mountain West Conference, of which UH is a football-only member, on the best travel plans for a game in Hawaii. The Aggies scheduled byes book-ending this game.
"We understand it's a tough trip, and our players have to handle that part of it, as well as the game and playing a really good Hawaii team, " Martin said. "This is a real challenge. There's never been a New Mexico State football team that beat Hawaii in the history of the school. ... This is something they can do that (no other NMSU team ) has done. It's a great opportunity. We're going to play our hardest."
In three games since healing from a wrist injury, NMSU quarterback Jonah Johnson is averaging 336.3 passing yards on 62.3 % accuracy—a figure re-calibrated to 68.8 % when factoring the 10 drops on clean throws.
"Last game (against Nevada ), I had 24 incompletions, " Johnson said. "We didn't score in the second and third quarters. But in the first and fourth quarters, we out-scored them. We have to play four quarters of football, and execute the whole game."
In the first meeting against UH, the Aggies amassed 88 offensive snaps and held possession for 37 minutes, 11 seconds. The Warriors' goal is to hold opponents under 70 snaps. To do that, the Warriors have tried to establish a clock-burning running game.
In their first four weeks, the Warriors averaged 127.3 rushing yards on 3.8 yards per carry. Since then, the averages are up to 211.7 per game and 6.0 per carry. Against Nevada a week ago, the Warriors averaged 15.0 yards per rush in the first half, in large part to Dae Dae Hunter's scoring runs of 75 and 81 yards. With Hunter unavailable because of shoulder issues in the second half, the Warriors averaged 3.9 yards per carry after the intermission.
UH's wish is Hunter and quarterback Chevan Cordeiro, who has missed consecutive starts, are available to play tonight. Cordeiro brings a running threat to the run-and-gun offense. Quarterback Brayden Schager has shown deep-throw strength in his two starts.
"We need to run the ball more consistently, " coach Todd Graham said. "We want to be a run (and ) play-action-pass team. We want to be an explosive offense. The biggest thing is we need to score more points (26.3 per game ). We're not getting that done. A lot of things can get corrected, like turning over the football. We've had some challenges. We've had Chevan get hurt. When you have young guys playing, there are going to be challenges with that."—For more Hawaii football, visit the.