HONOLULU — Hawaii senior defensive back John Hardy-Tuiliau studied film of Fresno State this week and couldn't help but think of past Rainbow Warriors teams.
The spread formations and four-receiver sets, all kinds of passing, a bunch of yards and plenty of scoring.
Fresno State might not run the run-and-shoot that Hawaii excelled at for more than a decade.
But the Bulldogs are spreading out defenses and winning with a pass-first attack, as the Warriors did as recently as Hardy-Tuiliau's freshman year of 2010 when Hawaii was co-champion of the Western Athletic Conference.
"They remind me how we used to be, and what this defense used to face at practice every day," Hardy-Tuiliau said. "They have a lot of similar concepts. But that's not what we do anymore. Our offense runs a different system."
Legendary offensive mind Norm Chow took over last season and the Warriors have tried to take on a new identity in a more traditional pro-style system.
Chow showed it could work at the highest level, most notably as USC's offensive coordinator when the Trojans won national championships in 2003 and 2004.
But at Hawaii, the pro-style system seems more like a mainland trend that's yet to catch on — even three games into Chow's second year heading the Warriors.
"We're going to work our butts off to make this thing work," Chow — who does not talk to media not based in Hawaii — told local reporters this week.
Hawaii has suffered nine interceptions and 11 turnovers overall. Only four other teams in the nation have committed more turnovers, and three of those have played four games already.
The Warriors are 119th in the country in scoring (12 points per game) and passing efficiency (86.5).
Quarterback Taylor Graham, a 6-foot-5 transfer from Ohio State, was supposed to help get the offense going. But the junior has misfired on more passes than he has completed (35 of 76 for 380 yards) and has twice as many interceptions as TDs (4-2).
Granted, Hawaii (0-3) has faced a tough early-season schedule, losing to USC 30-13, at Oregon State 33-14 and last week at Nevada 31-9. It marks the Warriors' first 0-3 start since 2000 — then-coach and run-and-shoot architect June Jones' second season.
But then there was last season, too. Hawaii ranked 100th in scoring (21.2 ppg), and 118th in pass efficiency (103.04) while finishing 3-9 under Chow.
Among the losses: 45-10 at Fresno State.
Hawaii's slow start this year is again testing fans' faith in the coach and his system.
It also doesn't help that the Warriors suffered an assortment of injuries last week, which caused the Warriors to play four quarterbacks.
Graham suffered a sore left shoulder (nonthrowing arm) and his availability for Saturday remains unclear. Chow said Graham would start if healthy.
Hawaii might end up turning back to Sean Schroeder, last year's starter, or freshman Ikaika Woolsey. Both threw two interceptions each against Nevada.
The Warriors' top running back, Joey Iosefa, is out four weeks after reinjuring his foot last week.
Not exactly good signs for an offense looking to field a balanced attack.
Hawaii's 3-3-5 defense has kept the Warriors from even worse losses despite the plethora of turnovers.
In particular, the Warriors have looked solid against the run under defensive coordinator Thom Kaumeyer, holding opponents to 129 yards per game on the ground (42nd in the nation).
"We feel we can compete and do some good things defensively," Kaumeyer said. "We just haven't been able to put a whole game together."
Hardy-Tuiliau said he hopes a rivalry game against Fresno State will help Hawaii get on track.
"It's disappointing to start the way we have, but we're not discouraged," Hardy-Tuiliau said. "We can't quit on each other. The coaches aren't quitting on us. We have to rally behind each other."
No. 25 FRESNO STATE AT HAWAII
Vitals: 9 p.m. Saturday
Records: Bulldogs 3-0; Rainbow Warriors 0-3
TV: KSEE (Channel 24.1)
Radio: KFIG (AM 940); KGST (AM 1600)
Line: Bulldogs -18.5
Of note: Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham is questionable after hurting his left shoulder in last week's game against Nevada.
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6362, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Banteola_TheBee on Twitter.