There aren’t many MLB baseball betting gurus who spend much of their time or attention on sports teams from Hawaii – just how much baseball of consequence is played in the 50th state these days, after all? However, in football, there’s good reason to value the University of Hawaii as you contemplate your next sportsbook review and assess the 2011 version of an ever-changing Western Athletic Conference.
In its farewell tour of the Western Athletic Conference, the Hawaii Warriors will try to replicate last year’s feel-good journey. During bowl season, Hawaii became the fourth school to bolt for the Mountain West Conference, further putting the WAC’s future at stake. Without the resident bully (Boise State), the Warriors will be particularly well-positioned to take home the outright WAC title in 2011. It’s a profound understatement to point out that in the wake of the college sports realignment frenzy that tore through the sport last summer, the rearranged pieces on the chessboard have given Hawaii a rare opportunity to become the unquestioned kind of its conference, if but for just one season.
Fresh off a 2010 campaign which saw the Warriors produce the best passing attack in the nation and a shocking 10-win season, head coach Greg McMackin – who has rehabilitated his image after an ugly slur uttered a few years ago – will try to whip up on the WAC again. This time, though, the metrics for accomplishment and achievement are different. Last year’s three-way split title with Boise State and Nevada was one thing; this year, nothing less than an outright title will be viewed as a top-notch campaign for the UH program. Most sports betting analysts would probably feel the same way, though some might tab Nevada as the top choice in the WAC.
In 2011, it may be harder for boys from the Islands to sneak up on opponents – they will be without one of the best 1-2 wide receiver duos in the nation in Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares. Quarterback Bryant Moniz is back for another year, but he will have to find a new stable of targets in order to find success in the pass-happy Warrior spread offense. Only three starters return on the offensive side of the ball and offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich will have to locate new talent during the spring and fall. The offensive line is going to be just as much of a concern as the receivers, if not more so. The program knows how to produce quality passing attacks; accordingly, it can readily plug players into slots and generate a cyclical process in which players know their roles. Still, there’s going to be a learning curve with this team, and the quickness with which newbies grasp the offense is probably going to be the main determinant of this team’s success.
The defense, which had a solid season before giving up 62 points and 532 yards of offense to Tulsa in a Hawaii Bowl loss, returns six starters in 2011. Two of those starters were all-WAC recipients in 2011, Kaniela Tulpulotu at defensive tackle and Corey Paredes at linebacker. More will be asked of the defense with the offense breaking in so many new players.
As always, the Warriors will travel great distances in 2011. A road contest at Washington in week two will renew a longstanding series with the Pac-12 Huskies. The home slate is one of the best in years. Colorado, Fresno State, and BYU all make trips to Aloha Stadium during the season.