Hawaii Looks to Salvage Balance of Season Beginning with Clash vs. Air Force

Mark BatorAnalyst IINovember 14, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 08: Connor Dietz #11 of the Air Force Falcons looks to throw a second quarter pass while playing the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 8, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Reeling from their 1-8 record this season, the Hawaii Warriors look to salvage the balance of their season this week when they head to Colorado Springs to face the Air Force Academy Falcons. The 5-5 Falcons come into the game with the second overall rushing offense in the nation, but are themselves on a two-game slide.

Coming off the 28-9 loss at the hands of San Diego State, Air Force will look to turn loose their two primary rushing weapons, running back Cody Getz (1006 yards, eight TDs) and quarterback Connor Dietz (606 yards, five TDs). Dietz (1,095 yards and seven TDs) rarely throws the ball, but has a QB rating of 167.4 this season. The elusive QB has only been sacked three times all year.

Now on a seven-game slide, the Warriors may be changing things up against Air Force this week. Backup QB Jeremy Higgins, who played well against Boise State is the anticipated starter against the Falcons. While Chow revealed at his weekly press conference that Higgins has a somewhat weaker arm than quarterback Sean Schroeder, he also feels that the second-string sophomore compensates for that shortcoming with good footwork and anticipation.

The first season of Norm Chow has been a tough one, with a difficult travel schedule, a rash of injuries and 28 turnovers handcuffing the efforts of the Warriors this season. Add to that the inability to maintain offensive drives, and it has given the Warriors' opposition the advantages it needs to beat Hawaii.

"We have to be prepared offensively to stay on the field a little bit," Chow stressed earlier this week (UH Athletics channel on YouTube.com). We can’t get those three and outs and expect our defense to hold up all afternoon long."

Missing from this week's game will be Hawaii running back Will Gregory. The talented freshman is in Chow's dog house for throwing a punch at an opposing player last week and subsequently being ejected from the contest.

"What he did was uncalled for," Chow explained to reporters (UH Athletics channel on YouTube.com).  "I’m not going to condone those kind of activities."

Gregory's absence will place more of a burden on RB Joey Iosefa, and the likelihood that receivers Billy Ray Stutzmann and Jeremiah Ostrowski will have a larger role in the offense. Regardless of which quarterback starts for Hawaii, the offensive line will need to provide time to throw the football. So far this season, Warriors quarterbacks have been sacked 31 times this year.

"We need to pick it up," Chow admitted (UH Athletics channel on YouTube.com). "We need to pick it up offensively." The Warriors rank No. 98 in passing yards, No. 116 in rushing yards and No. 112 in points-for nationally this season.

Game Time: 9:30 pm ET, Friday, Nov. 16, Colorado Springs, CO. Television: ESPN2