In the game of college football, more times than not a team’s championship aspirations heavily rely on the arm of the team’s quarterback.
For this Saturday’s showdown between the University of Hawaii and Arizona, there’s no exception program potential appears positive.
Both Rainbow Warrior junior Cole McDonald, and Wildcat senior Khalil Tate were named to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Watch-List recently as the two combined for over 67-hundred yards passing and 64-total touchdowns a season ago.
That leads the QB showdown at Aloha Stadium this weekend to be one of the most anticipated story-lines of week-zero.
Warriors head coach Nick Rolovich, and Wildcats sideline-boss Kevin Sumlin share mutual respect and caution for the opposition.
“Some of his passing stuff is scramble drill, off-script, keeping stuff alive. His receivers believe that the play is never over with him. So you see real good effort in the scramble drill. We want to keep him on-script,” said Rolovich.
“Rolo, I shouldn’t say Rolo. Coach Rolovich is a good friend, obviously. He’s a tough guy, and I think the quarterback is a real reflection of him. Here’s a guy that threw for 38-hundred yards last year, 500-yard debut, 6-4, 220. Runs around all over the place and can spin it, and so he’s a big tough guy that you see him get hit sometimes and it doesn’t phase him. He’s going to get up and keep going,” said Sumlin.
McDonald, was named the team’s Coach June Jones Offensive MVP in 2018, after ranking in the top 10 nationally in a half dozen categories.
“I think that the team is a real reflection of their head coach. They’ve got a quarterback that is as good as probably there is in the country,” added Sumlin.
Kickoff between UH and Arizona is set for Saturday, at 4:30pm at Aloha Stadium. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
ADDITION GAME STORYLINES:
- Hawai’i-Arizona is one of two FBS games on Saturday which kick-offs the College Football’s 150th Anniversary season. The teams are also scheduled to open the 2020 season in Tucson (Aug. 29).
- The game is the first meeting between the teams since the passing of college coaching great DIck Tomey in May 2019. Tomey coached at UH for 10 seasons (1977-86) before heading to Arizona for 14 seasons (1987-2000).
- The Wildcats have won all five meetings in the series, including three contests in Honolulu (1951, ’77, and ’98).
- The August 24 opener is the earliest start in program history. Last season, UH played at Colorado State on August 25 (2018) and the previous two years, the Warriors opened on August 26 (vs. Cal in Sydney, Australia in 2016 and at UMass in 2017).
- UH is 2-1 in season openers under head coach Nick Rolovich with wins in each of the past two seasons at UMass (2017) and Colorado State (2018).
- UH is 3-0 in home openers under Rolovich with wins over UT Martin (41-36) in 2016; Western Carolina (41-18) in 2017; and Navy (59-41) in 2018. Overall, the Warriors have won their last four home openers dating back to 2015.
- This year marks the eighth time in the last 10 years that UH opens the season versus a Pac-12 squad. UH opened with a Pac-12 team for seven straight years from 2010-16, compiling a 2-5 mark.
- UH’s last six wins against Power 5 conferences have come against Pac-12 squads.
- The last time UH faced three Pac-12 squads in the same season was 2014 (Washington, Oregon State, Colorado).
- UH is 2-11 in its last 13 games versus Pac-12 opponents since 2010. Both wins were against Colorado at home – one in the 2011 season opener (34-17) and the other in the 2015 season opener (28-20).
- The game is the first of eight home contests for the Rainbow Warriors this season, the most regular season home games since 2006.
- UH is coming off its first winning season since 2010 and have appeared in two bowl games in the last three seasons under Rolovich.
- UH returns 20 starters this season – a figure tied for the most in the nation along with Ball State, Indiana, Michigan State and Oregon. The Warriors return nine offensive starters from a unit tht ranked ninth nationally in passing offense (310.3 ypg).