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Three Hawaii players to watch this week against Michigan

It should be a blowout, but here are some guys to watch for Hawaii.

NCAA Football: Hawaii at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors have played two games already this season against Vanderbilt in Week 0 and Western Kentucky in Week 1. In those two games, Hawaii has lost by a combined 85 points and have allowed 506.5 yards per game. The only team that has played two games and been worse to this point is Conference USA’s Charlotte 49ers.

It’s certainly not the start the Rainbow Warriors wanted under new head coach and alumnus Timmy Chang. As a Hawaii native, Chang staved off USC, Utah and other Power 5 schools to stay home and play for the Rainbow Warriors. Throughout a five-year career as a starter, Chang threw for more than 17,000 yards and 117 touchdowns. He is among the best to ever play for Hawaii.

The success has obviously not been there so far in his tenure as he begins a rebuild. There is only one Rainbow Warriors player remaining from 2021 that has received All-Conference honors of any kind. This process will not be easy, and as the Michigan Wolverines host them this weekend, it’s appearing there will be another bloodbath for Hawaii.

It will have to be a magical game from Hawaii if it wants to win this one, and the three players to watch all come from the offensive end. If Hawaii wants to keep things even a semblance of close, these three will have to be nearly perfect come kickoff on Saturday. But let’s be honest before we get into this — if Michigan doesn’t blow them out, something weird probably happened.

Here are three players to watch on Hawaii this weekend.

OL Ilm Manning

Manning is a big dude. At 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds, he is one of the most physical left tackles in the Mountain West. Having 47 games under his belt as a redshirt senior, he is also one of the most experienced.

As a sophomore in 2019, Manning was an All-Mountain West second team player who started all 15 games. That season, Hawaii finished No. 5 in the country in passing offense and No. 13 in total offense thanks to stellar line play. Last season, he was an honorable mention for the conference and started 13 games at left tackle. His pass-protect success rate was at over 95% and he led the team in knockdowns.

He’s also known to be a little bit of a hothead, especially when his team is down. Last week against Western Kentucky, he was flagged four times, including this unsportsmanlike conduct penalty:

He’s a ferocious and talented player, but we’ll see if the relentless rush from Michigan brings out the side of him we saw late in that loss to Western Kentucky last week.

RB Dedrick Parson

Parson was the starting running back at Howard University for the first two seasons of his collegiate career. He was awarded several honors, including the MEAC Rookie of the Year back in 2018.

Last season, he transferred to Hawaii and split the backfield with Dae Dae Hunter and quarterback Chevan Cordeiro. The three of them each tallied more than 100 attempts.

This season, under a new head coach, Parson looks like he has a little more control of the backfield. He’s had 34 touches in the first two games and has accrued 134 yards and two touchdowns during that span.

He’s capable of breaking off a big run or two, like he did in Week 0 against Vanderbilt:

The Rainbow Warriors will have to control the time of possession if they want to keep things close (which very likely will not happen). A big day from Parson is going to be necessary to do that.

QB Brayden Schager

Schager has nine interceptions and two touchdowns in his career, but has yet to throw a touchdown pass through two games this season. The young quarterback has more than the occasional errant throw, but has also turned it up against top-25 opponents.

Last season against No. 18 Fresno State, the Rainbow Warriors were down two scores heading into the fourth quarter. Schager was just 7-for-22 and had not been playing well. Then, in the last few minutes of the game, he went 4-of-5 for 67 yards and two touchdowns. He led the team down the field on three consecutive scoring drives to win the game, 27-24, upsetting the Bulldogs at home.

The pressure Michigan will put on him throughout the day should allow for several interception opportunities on the back end for the Wolverines. But if Hawaii has any chance of being in this game, it will need the better form of Schager from start to finish and not what has been seen so far to this point in 2022.