PROVO — In the days after BYU beat Hawaii 30-20 in the season finale last November in Honolulu, coach Kalani Sitake let go legendary quarterback Ty Detmer as offensive coordinator at the end of a 4-9 campaign.
Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich, meanwhile, decided to make a major change in his program — which finished 3-9 a year ago — after that game as well by returning to the run-and-shoot offense, the scheme that he played in when he was a prolific Warrior quarterback.
In 2001, Rolovich led Hawaii to a memorable 72-45 victory at Aloha Stadium over the Cougars, who were ranked No. 8 and 12-0 at the time. Rolovich threw for 543 yards and eight touchdowns and the Warriors finished that season with a 9-3 mark.
The key to making the run-and-shoot work is the right quarterback — and Rolovich found his man in Cole McDonald, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore from La Mirada, California.
This season, McDonald is No. 2 in the nation in passing, having thrown for 2,100 yards and 24 touchdowns, despite missing last week’s 17-13 home win over Wyoming due to an injury.
Freshman Chevan Cordeiro completed 19 of 29 passes for 148 and two touchdowns, including a game-winning, 38-yarder with 1:26 remaining against the Cowboys.
But McDonald is expected to start when Hawaii (6-1) visits BYU Saturday (8:15 p.m., MDT, ESPN2).
“I’m back,” he told reporters Tuesday after practice. “It feels good. It’s nice to be out with the boys and throwing again.”
“He looked fine. He went through the whole practice,” Rolovich said. “With a week off, I think he’s got some things to clean up, but you know, he looked like he was ready to go.”
And McDonald is motivated. Hawaii is 0-9 all-time against BYU in Provo and he’s looking to lead the first Warrior team to knock off the Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“I feel like myself and for the guys, we want to be part of that legacy. To Hawaii and to everyone out here, it means something special, and if we can give that to the state and to the people, that would mean the world to us, just coming back with that win,” McDonald said. “We’re going to go out there and execute our assignments and play great football and come back with that win, so it’s going to mean a lot to us.”
If that weren’t enough motivation, the Warriors will become bowl-eligible with a victory Saturday.
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Source:: Deseret News – Sports News