There are a lot of things that I'm looking forward to this season. If you read Scout then you're probably aware that primary among them is Taylor Graham and his ever-empowering golden arm. But a close second? The highly underrated defense that was basically left out to dry last year. If you look simply at the numbers alone, Hawaii was near the bottom of every statistical defensive category that mattered (including 107th overall in points allowed.) And yet what we saw on the field didn't really seem bear that out. So which was the most appropriate measure of their ability? What our eyes saw on the field or what the box score said afterwards? Truthfully it was probably somewhere in between. Still, things are not NEARLY as bad as they at times looked.
If you've ever played the game, then you know that there are often two battles that the defense has to fight on gameday. The one against the opposing offense, and the one against personal fatigue. In 2012, UH often lost both. And yet it was a very slippery slope. Even when they would get stops, the offense couldn't stick around on the field long enough to give them a breather. And so they'd come back and get winded. Then a 3 and out would be two first downs and out. Then it would be three. Then it would be a big play for a score. Such was consequence of being on the field for far too long during the games.
When I met Siasau Matagiese last saturday, he basically confirmed that this was the case. He emphasized to me over and over again that the D-Line "needed to get into shape" to prepare for the season. And from what I saw in drills, they are well on their way. Matagiese led a similar charge at the beginning of last year, looking to build on a successful sophomore year here after transferring in from Portland State (watch this video and be excited: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ev8cNHY7QJI). Unfortunately, a helmet to helmet hit in the BYU game on September 28th shook him up and he never really recovered. Now, back and healthy, his enthusiasm is clear.
Common knowledge (and recent NFL history) suggests that you build a defense from the inside out. And the combo of Matagiese, Tavita Woodard, Moses Samia, Beau Yap and the incoming Kennedy Tulimasealii looks to be the foundation for a VERY promising future in this regard. As always, stay tuned.