San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Aztecs look to bounce back against Hawaii

Justin Truong/SDSU Athletics
Senior quarterback Jordon Brookshire (4) leads the Aztecs into the game against San Jose State (Photo Courtesy of Justin Truong, SDSU Athletics).

After suffering their first loss, the San Diego State Aztecs (7-1, 3-1 Mountain West Conference) look to get back to their winning ways this weekend as they travel to Hawaii, home of the Rainbow Warriors (4-5, 1-3 MWC) on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Last week, the Aztecs had their Halloween and undefeated season spoiled in a 30-20 loss at home against the in-state rival Fresno State Bulldogs. The Rainbow Warriors aren’t flying too high either after a 51-31 drubbing against the Utah State Aggies. 

For the Aztecs, there is no time to dwell on their first loss of the year as they still have a lot of work to do, a point head coach Brady Hoke made abundantly clear.

“We’ve got to obviously get ourselves ready to go play championship football. We are still a football team that’s won seven games,” Hoke said, “That’s an accomplishment but it’s not where we want to be.”

The Aztecs have dominated this series — winning seven of the last ten matchups, including a 34-10 walloping last year and open the game as 7.5 point favorites.


The Rainbow Warriors feature a balanced offense with a 47% to 53% run-to-pass-ratio. While  the unit is the fourth highest gaining offense in the MW, it only ranks seventh in scoring. 

The running game — despite ranking a mediocre sixth in yards per game — averages 4.7 yards per carry, tied with SDSU for the second-best in the conference. Hawaii’s 17 rushing touchdowns are the third most in the MW. 

The Rainbow Warriors have an efficient ground game despite, or perhaps thanks to, a stable of ball carriers. Three different running backs have toted the rock at least 50 times at over five yards per carry this year for Hawaii — no other MWC team, not even the run-happy Air Force, can claim more than one. 

Additionally, they have two rushers with six or more touchdowns — a feat only matched by Air Force. This is partly due to injury and partly due to rotation. The bottom line is, regardless of who is carrying the ball, the run game must be respected. 

When a team has success on the ground with so many different runners,  many will point to the offensive line. Cameron Thomas, junior defensive lineman for SDSU, said, “Hawaii has a very good offensive line, very physical offensive line, and I think we’re a very physical defense. So I think it’s going to be a really good game.”

Meanwhile, the passing game for the Rainbow Warriors leaves something to be desired. Hawaii’s air attack ranks towards the middle of the pack in completion percentage, yards per game, and touchdowns in the MWC. The unit is led by sophomore quarterback Chevan Cordeiro who — after missing two weeks due to injury — played a solid game last week  by throwing for three touchdowns to only one interception and completing 58% of his passes, albeit in a losing effort.

At first glance, the Rainbow Warriors offense seems respectable; however, there is evil lurking beneath the surface — turnovers. The Rainbow Warriors are tied for the most fumbles lost and the fourth most interceptions thrown in the nation with ten and 12 respectively. As for total turnovers, Hawaii stands atop the NCAA with 22. 


Hawaii’s defense is just the opposite. The Rainbow Warriors trot out a below average rushing defense in terms of yards allowed and are conference-worst in rushing scores allowed. Worst than that, their passing defense has surrendered the most yards in the nation. Combined, they have one of the worst total defenses in yards and scoring in college football. 

One is correct by thinking that the Rainbow Warriors defense is awful; however, their dreadful statistics are inflated to a degree by their turnover prone offense. Despite that there is a bright spot in their defense — takeaways. Hawaii’s ten interceptions and ten fumble recoveries ties them for second in all of college football with 20 total takeaways.

“They are very good when you look at taking advantage of getting takeaways” Hoke said, “They play really hard defensively. We just got to do what we normally do and that’s take care of the football, don’t make bad decisions… I think it’s going to be a hell of a football game.”


Both these teams are trying to rebound from ugly losses last week. However, the Aztecs have demonstrated far more consistency this year. The Rainbow Warriors have more turnovers than a bakery; if the Aztecs can protect the ball against Hawaii’s opportunistic group then they should have little issue exploiting their defense. While SDSU has earned the right to be big favorites, being favored doesn’t win anything. They will have to go on the road and prove it.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Aztecs look to bounce back against Hawaii