The Joel Stave Show will look to continue this Saturday as the No. 21 Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) host the Hawaii Warriors (2-1) in UW's only scheduled night game at home this year. Hawaii comes in hot off a 47-27 win over FCS opponent UC-Davis a week earlier, while the Badgers' defense looks to continue its streak of not allowing a touchdown in over eight quarters.
Stave looks to keep his resurgent 2015 season going, completing over 67 percent of his passes with six touchdown passes through three games. Hawaii's defense only gives up a shade over 192 yards per contest through the air so far.
How can the Rainbow Warriors improve upon their 110th ranked offensive efficiency?
CT: For improved efficiency, Hawaii may need to up the aggressiveness in their play calling, especially over the next few weeks to hang with Wisconsin or Boise State. [Head coach] Norm Chow will have WR1 Quinton Pedroza, and WR2 Vasquez Haynes potentially back with the team this week. [Quarterback Max] Wittek will have more weapons in his arsenal against the Badgers pass defense (ranked 59th in nation). They'll need to utilize each one for a chance to cover against the Badgers.
What positives can Hawaii take away from their win against UC Davis -- an FCS program -- as they prepare for Wisconsin?
CT: The biggest positives I saw from the UC-Davis game were an efficient outing from Wittek (17-for-24, 272 yards, 2 touchdowns), and the solidification of Paul Harris as RB1 for the Rainbow Warriors. Wittek opened the year with two games of 50 percent completion or lower and multi-interception performances, then was very sharp against UC-Davis. Albeit, it was an FCS team, he is definitely more comfortable with this offense than he was against Colorado or Ohio State. As for Harris, the junior JUCO transfer surprised me and I'm sure others by coming in and taking the starting job from Steven Lakalaka, but he's held his own so far with this offense. He's top five in the MW [Mountain West] in rushing yards and yards per carry, averaging six-plus yards a touch this year. In terms of looking toward Wisconsin, both players will have to replicate, or come close to their performance last week for the Rainbow Warriors to hang with the Badgers this week.
How can Hawaii, ranked 97th in rushing defense, stop Wisconsin's ground attack?
CT: Defensive line has to stay at home to have any chance of keeping the Badgers rushing attack from ripping off big runs. UH has already given up two multi-TD performances to Michael Adkins II and Ezekiel Elliot, and I'm concerned Wisconsin will do more of the same. It will be difficult for Hawaii to keep a hold on the UW rushing attack, but it's not impossible. Expect linebackers like Jerrol Garcia-Williams to have a bigger role in stopping the run this week.
What matchup can the Rainbow Warriors exploit? Conversely, what matchup will the Badgers take advantage of?
CT: Pass the dang ball, Norm. Hawaii has several viable weapons at receiver in Pedroza, Haynes, Devan Stubblefield, Dylan Collie (Austin's brother!), and Harris out of the backfield. The Badgers pass defense has been middle of the road this year, and the UH passing attack has been around that area as well. Wittek needs to continue to take steps forward after his great performance last week against UC-Davis, and he has the weapons to do so.
What's your prediction for the game?
CT: As much as I like an underdog story, it's not Hawaii this week. 2-1 is where Chow wants to be to keep his job however, so he's got that going for him, which is nice. Badgers at home should have no trouble with the 'Bows this week, but the UH defense should at least help the Rainbow Warriors cover the spread this week. Wisconsin 35, Hawaii 13.