The Hawaii football team earned immediate respect at the beginning of last season by going toe-to-toe with USC in its season opener and ultimately scoring 36 points in an entertaining loss to the Trojans.
The Warriors open this season on Saturday at home against Colorado but coach Greg McMackin issued a note of caution Monday on the Western Athletic Conference coaches teleconference when he said his team is young offensively with only two starters returning, and it might take some time for the Warriors to reach the same level of efficiency and productivity as last year.
The entire offensive line is new and how that unit performs will be a key factor in the development of the entire offense. That group's play will also have a huge impact on the kind of season returning starting quarterback Bryant Moniz produces.
Moniz is considered a dark horse for the Heisman Trophy by some and a definite WAC Player of the Year candidate by most.
"I think he had a better supporting cast last year, more experienced," McMackin said. " ... I expect us to start a little slow but as the season goes on I believe we're going to really pick it up. I believe we can be as good as we were last year."
Moniz led the nation in total offense in 2010 at 367.29 yards per game. The Warriors throw the ball 60 times a game, which will be a big test for a CU secondary breaking in new starters at cornerback. But Moniz won't have his two favorite targets from a year ago to go to.
Wide receivers Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares combined for more than 200 receptions and nearly 3,000 yards receiving last fall. Salas was the second leading receiver in the nation and Pilares was 11th.
The passing game in any offense is largely dependent on timing, a fact CU coaches are well aware of. How quickly this Hawaii offense can master the timing it needs and how effective the CU defense is at disrupting that timing will go far in determining the winner on Saturday.