Bronco Beat

Mountain West spotlight: Seniors give Hawaii football hope for a turnaround

Note: For 11 straight days, I’ll post a brief team preview for each school in the Mountain West (except Boise State). I’ll go in reverse order of predicted finish, starting with the West Division.

HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS

Coach: Norm Chow

Record: 4-20 (two seasons)

Last year: 1-11, 0-8 in MW

Last bowl: 2010 Hawaii (L, 62-35 to Tulsa)

Returning starters: 7/6/2 (offense/defense/specialists)

Story line: Norm Chow’s first two years at Hawaii have been a mess, but the team showed a competitive streak last year that was missing in 2012. The Warriors went 1-11 with two overtime losses and three other losses by a touchdown or less. If you go back to the last two games of 2012, the Warriors have three wins, two overtime losses and three losses by a touchdown or less in 14 games. They have two losses by 20 points or more in that stretch. “We need to finish,” Chow said. “That’s been our mantra since the season ended. What gives us that optimism is we finally have some seniors and we have some senior leadership and we depend on those guys to get over that hump. Our guys are very anxious to prove themselves.”

Star player: Senior tailback Joey Iosefa only played in five games last season because of a broken foot. In that limited action, he gained 590 yards on 126 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and scored five touchdowns. He also made 10 catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot, 245-pounder projects as one of the top offensive players in the Mountain West this season if he stays healthy but he’s more focused on how he can help turn around the program. “I’m just going to let my actions lead the players,” he said. “I’m going to help out the young guys, because we have so much talent in the young guys. They’re the future of this program.”

Quotable: “Am I disappointed? Heck yes. Am I ready to get fired, probably so. But I’m not embarrassed, because our kids tried and they worked at it.” — Chow, at the Mountain West media preview, via The Coloradoan

Email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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