The Blue Raiders landed in Waikiki on Monday, Dec. 19, as they prepare to take on the University of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
The Rainbow Warriors are 6–7 on the season, but they offer arguably the most balanced attack the Blue Raiders have seen this season.
“Offensively, they will give you multiple formations and get in big sets. They’ll spread you out and there will be some four-wide. They will get into some bigger sets with the utilization of the tight end,” said MTSU Head Coach Rick Stockstill.
Hawaii features a stable of talented running backs with three players having received more than 75 carries on the season. Diocemy Saint Juste has received the most carries and rushed for the most yards out of the trio, but Steven Lakalaka has served as the biggest goal line threat with 12 touchdowns. Paul Harris has gotten the fewest carries amongst the three, but his seven yards per carry suggests he is the most explosive runner. The three combined for 1,788 rushing yards at 5.6 yards per carry.
Quarterback Dru Brown helps to balance the offense. He has proven to be an efficient passer, completing 62 percent of his attempts while throwing only seven interceptions. Wide receiver Marcus Kemp has been his favorite target as he has caught 70 passes for 1036 yards and seven touchdowns.
However, it is the defense that has especially caught the eye of the Blue Raiders.
“As soon as we turned on the film, we saw them blitz every play we watched, so I’ll have to be ready to stay low and block well. I’ll have to adjust to certain things and knowing which guy to pick up and which guy I need to help out on,” said Blue Raider running back I’Tavius Mathers.
The Rainbow Warriors have gotten to the quarterback 21 times this season, but their 83 tackles for loss tells a better story of this defense’s aggressive nature. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai leads the team in both categories with 17.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.
The bad news is it sounds like the Blue Raiders will have their hands full with an aggressive defense. The good news is Brent Stockstill is getting closer each day to playing in Hawaii.
No official word has come down as of the writing of this article, but coach Stockstill has repeatedly stated that he is optimistic. Brent Stockstill is throwing again, and coaches have said he looks better everyday.
The game will kick-off at 7 p.m. CT on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, and will be aired on ESPN.