Hawaii's Secret Weapon
Louisiana Tech's 2018 bowl opponent operates what many would call a textbook definition of a one dimensional offense. However, the Hawaii Warriors do excel at that one dimension. Hawaii has thrown for 4176 yards through the 13 games they have played, good for sixth in the nation.
The Warriors' yards per passing attempt (8.2) ranks 25th in the country, which is made more impressive by the number of times per game Hawaii airs the ball out:
So Hawaii passes the ball a lot. And when they pass, they gain a lot of yards.
Sounds like a pretty good recipe for success.
Most of Hawaii's offensive prowess has been attributed to one player, WR John Ursua. The junior undoubtedly deserves much of the credit as he leads college football with the most receiving touchdowns and also has the fifth most receiving yards in the country.
But although Ursua is the only offensive Warrior player on either the 1st or 2nd team All-MWC rosters, he is not solely responsible for Hawaii's success.
Much of Hawaii's passing prosperity can be credited to another wideout: JoJo Ward.
Ward ranks 3rd on the Warriors in receiving yards, but what stands out about JoJo Ward is his 17.0 Yards Per Catch (YPC) stat. This ranks 5th in the MWC, and Ward has the most receptions of any in that Top 5.
Hawaii's last two games of the regular season, UNLV and SDSU, were two of Ward's best as the receiver finished the year strong. Over those two games, Ward caught 11 passes for an average of 20 yards a catch and three TDs.
Out of Midway High School in Waco, TX, Ward didn't initially receive much attention from college programs. Only Utah State made an offer. JoJo instead enrolled 2.5 hours down the road from Ruston at Tyler (TX) JC where Ward led the team in receptions and yards.
The performances in Tyler led to a few more offers: Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, and Texas Southern, but many schools looked elsewhere due to his 5'9 frame. It wasn't until an eleventh-hour opening for Hawaii that Ward was given an opportunity to walk on and play for the Warriors.
Two days into training camp, Ward was playing with the second team offense.
And now at the end of the year, Ward is tied for the second most touchdown catches on the team.
But Tech will be the second strongest pass defense the Warriors have faced all year. Tech ranks 21st against the pass, and when Hawaii faced Fresno State (the 18th ranked team against the pass), the (West Coast) Bulldogs won 50-20. So maybe our Bulldogs can see a similar result. But on the other hand, maybe we'll see something like this:
Nathan is also a contributor to gtpdd.dog, a lighthearted Louisiana Tech blog. Be sure to follow @gotechplsdntdie on Twitter.