Interim Hawaii football coach Chris Naeole is sticking with Ikaika Woolsey as his starting quarterback.
Naeole made the switch for the UNLV game for the injured Max Wittek as the Rainbow Warriors suffered a 41-21 loss to the Rebels. Woolsey completed 16 of 33 for 187 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times.
“Ikaika had a good game,” Naeole said. “I think his only real bad play was the flea flicker where he probably should have thrown away the ball. Other than that, he distributed the ball, and like I said, guys have got to catch the ball. If you don’t catch the ball, it’s hard to call plays and hard to move the ball.”
Naeole, who was named interim after the firing of Norm Chow on Nov. 1, still felt good enough about Woolsey to keep him under center when the Rainbow Warriors (2-8, 0-6) meet Fresno State (2-7, 1-5) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Aloha Stadium.
He’s still the guy. He didn’t do anything to disrupt himself from not being the guy.
Hawaii interim coach Chris Naeole on Ikaika Woolsey
“He’s still the guy,” Naeole said. “He didn’t do anything to disrupt himself from not being the guy.”
Despite the Bulldogs’ problems, Woolsey sees them as a defensive threat.
“They’re definitely a pretty good defense,” he said. “Bring a lot of pressure. They have veterans on that squad, so it’s going to be a hard fought battle.”
Wittek has started eight of nine games this season, though he has been limited because of knee and foot injuries. For the season, he has completed 116 of 242 passes for 1,389 yards and seven touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
Woolsey had played in 10 games and started two, including his first start against New Mexico on Oct. 17. Against the Lobos, Woolsey was 13 of 25 for 195 yards and a touchdown and was picked off twice in a 28-27 defeat.
“Obviously, guys have to make plays and help him out,” Naeole said. “As of right now, he’s our guy.”
Mason to coach against former team – Hawaii defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Tom Mason spent seven seasons at Fresno State under former coach Pat Hill.
Mason helped develop 2007 Western Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Riley and 2003 first-teamer Bryce McGill.
Mason joined the Bulldogs staff in 2001 after one season as linebackers coach with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the now-defunct XFL. Hawaii hired Mason in February from Southern Methodist, where he was the defensive coordinator and interim coach.
Under Mason, the Rainbow Warriors rank 24th in the nation against the pass, holding opponents to 188.3 yards per game after giving up 258 to UNLV.
Looking at Fresno State, Mason sees similarities between the two.
“That’s a football team that’s in a little transition,” he said. “They’ve had some injuries to their quarterbacks and trying to find a few things to what they’re doing. Personnel-wise, they’re struggling like we’re struggling. It’s going to be one of those whoever makes the least amount of mistakes is going to win that football game.”
Non-winning season – Hawaii has now had five straight losing seasons after its loss to Air Force. The last time the Rainbow Warriors posted five straight non-winning seasons was 1994-98. Hawaii’s last winning season was in 2010 (10-4).
Long series – The Fresno State series is the longest for the Hawaii program, now meeting for the 48th time and the 27th time in Honolulu. The series dates to 1938 at old Honolulu Stadium, with Fresno State holding a 25-21-1 advantage overall while Hawaii leads 14-12 in Honolulu.
Bulldogs on streak – Fresno State has won the past four games in the series, including 28-21 last season at Bulldog Stadium.
Friendly confines – Hawaii is 448-275-22 (.616) at home. While the Rainbow Warriors have dropped 24 of their past 25 road contests, they are 2-2 at home this season.
FRESNO STATE VS. HAWAII
- Saturday: 8 p.m. at Aloha Stadium (KSEE-24.1)
- Records: Bulldogs 2-7, 1-5 MW; Rainbow Warriors 2-8, 0-6
- TV: KSEE (24.1)
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Series: Bulldogs lead 25-21-1