OT Tala Esera

2004 Statistics

Coach: June Jones
48-30, 6 years
2004 Record: 8-5
at Rice LOST 29-41
at UTEP LOST 20-51
at Boise State LOST 3-69
at Fresno State LOST 14-70
vs. UAB WON 59-40

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-41, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

Since June Jones came to Hawai’i in 1999, consider his job performance a success (48-30). Hawai’i has become respected as one of the top programs in the WAC, and Jones’ run-and-shoot offense has ranked nationally in the top four in passing each year in Honolulu.

But with a 2-8 mark for away games (and 15-2 at home over the past two years), Jones has his work cut out as to locational factors needing work (travel to/from the islands is a bear). Ex-QB Timmy Chang’s streaky nature played into such team patterns, so his departure actually could stabilize and improve the Warrior’s road record. Even more long term, this team has to continue to take advantage of how non-con foes (and the NCAA) are willing to annually give them so many home games at season’s close. Still, with only two trips beyond the west coast region, look for Jones to eventually buoy his team beyond their usual, predictably “almost” seasons, but transitions should prove too much in ’05.

The Rainbow Warriors face a major rebuilding project, as every skill position player who made an impact on offense is gone, including all-time Division-IA career passing leader Chang, who shattered a few NCAA records. But, at critical junctures, Chang was never the consistent field general he needed to be (re: 2004’s conference losses to Boise State 69-3 and Fresno State 70-14), so any successes were short-lived, and Warrior fans even came to expect his drop-off. Chang’s best team results came during his freshman campaign (three losses); his inability to garner more wins became an accepted consequence for his aerial prowess. Many fans, though, would have traded a few more victories for some of those record-setting yards, a sentiment that carries over into expectations for Jones’ new hand and how he will play it.

Now, like so many other programs that seemingly put a new hurler into an existing (successful) system and lose little of their program’s momentum (see Texas Tech, Louisville, USC, Marshall), Hawai’i can change QBs for genuine team improvements. And, though the Warriors will see their run among the top offenses in the country come to an end, returning four offensive linemen is going to make the growing pains easier and balance possible.

It’s (at least) a positive that Jerry Glanville takes over as defensive coordinator. The former Houston Oilers and Atlanta Falcons head man, who became famous for leaving tickets for Elvis, will struggle to take care of business, regardless. The defense couldn’t stop anybody in 2004, and, even with Glanville’s help, won’t be that much better. The high-powered offense made up for those marginal Ds, but the Warriors won’t be afforded this handicap anymore.

Hawaii isn’t good enough to win more than two (if that) of its non-conference games, and likely won’t break-even in the WAC (they were 4-4 in conference WITH a record-setting offense). Transition is a fitting word to describe Hawai’i’s plight, but don’t be surprised if/when Jones/Glanville make this period shorter-lived than many expect.

Projected 2005 record: 6-6
QB - 2.5 DL - 2
RB - 1.5 LB - 2.5
WR - 2 DB - 2.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Kainoa Akina, 19-7-4, 84 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Kainoa Akina, 12 att., 102 yds., 0 TD

Receiving: Ross Dickerson, 15 rec., 143 yds., 1 TD

Scoring: Kala Latuselu, Bryan Maneafaiga, Ross Dickerson - 6 pts. each

Punting: Kurt Milne, 54 punts, 39.9 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Leonard Peters, 120 tot., 77 solo

Sacks: Melila Purcell, 6 sacks

Leonard Peters, 4 for 20 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Jason Ferguson, 32 ret., 21.2 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Jason Ferguson, 2 ret., -2 yds., 0 TD


DE Melila Purcell
OFFENSE: Jason Rivers-WR, Chad Owens-WR, Gerald Welch-WR, Se'e Poumele-WR, Britton Komine-WR, Uriah Moenoa-OG, Timmy Chang-QB, Michael Brewster-RB, West Keliikikpi-RB, Justin Ayat-K
DEFENSE: Lui Fuga-DT, Matt Faga-DT, Chad Kapanui-SLB, Watson Ho'ohuli-MLB, Abraham Elimimian-CB, Ray Bass-CB

For the first time in five years, the Warriors are holding auditions for the starting spot. Three players – senior Jeffrey Rhode, along with freshmen Inoke Funaki and Tyler Graunke – are vying for the spot, but Jones won’t name a starter until just before the opener. Expect Graunke to win the job. He lacks prototypical size, but throws a crisp ball and has the athletic ability to both escape a pass rush and (then) be a threat on the ground. He has also impressed the coaching staff with his leadership. Rhode will likely become the backup due to his experience in the system, while Funaki has struggled with learning the offense. This unit hopes to pick up where Chang left off, but without proven talent behind and around whichever hurler, expect Graunke (or the others) to struggle against the tough, early foes they have lined up.

Running Back
There is hardly any game-day experience at all in the Warrior’s backfield. This is usually such a pass-happy team, but since the Warriors are breaking in a new QB, they’ll need this dimension to have impact to have any chance at being formidable on offense. Carrying the torch will be Bryan Maneafaiga, who is coming back from torn shoulder ligaments. He’s not big, but with his quickness he can turn the corner well and is more than adequate as a blocker. He was good enough in the spring to force his main competition, Nate Ilaoa, to return to his receiver “slot” (where he was recruited to play). A real “bowling ball”, Ilaoa dropped some weight, and is now genuinely quick for his size. Ilaoa has gone through two straight injury-filled campaigns (shoulder in ‘03, then knee in ’04), but he’ll be a big part of the offense, no matter where he is placed. There is little depth, proven or otherwise, to look to if things get hairy, so watch this unit to see what kind of chances Hawai’i has at offensive continuity. Without a running dimension…it will be an extremely long season.

Unfortunately, this is another unit with little/no experience. Major questions surround them, especially with Jason Rivers, last year’s second-leading receiver, seemingly ineligible. Currently attending community college, he was at spring practices only as a spectator, and his status for the fall remains up in the air. Without Rivers, this group is greener than the Warriors’ jerseys. Jason Ferguson and Devon Bess showed the most in spring, and Ian Sample looks good in his return from a shoulder injury. Ilaoa will increase what the corps can potentially deliver, but until the entire passing machine starts to click, Rainbow receivers will struggle for any gold.

Offensive Line
This is the one area of the offense about which Jones doesn’t have as much to worry. Four starters - from a group that paved the way for a 4.7-yard average on the ground and allowed just one sack for every 37.4 pass attempts - are back. Left guard Samson Satele (two-time all-WAC) is one of the top linemen in the country. His strength allows him to have his way with defenders, and his quickness prevents him from getting beat laterally. Tala Esera (all-WAC) is among the best pass-blockers in the conference (just ½ a sack allowed). Brandon Eaton moves to right guard, and he’s got the same level of ability as Satele. Center Derek Faavi is the smallest of the group, but, like his mates, he disrupts foes and their inside agenda rather effectively. Dane Uperesa didn’t start, but saw plenty of action at RT and will fit well.

The only thing preventing a total nosedive is the experience on the line, which is perhaps the best in the WAC. No QB has emerged as a clear-cut starter, but not because all the candidates are so good, but because none of them has proven worthy. Uncertainty there could linger. One fact that should change is the disparaging nature between their passing offense (2nd in I-A) and their air efficiency (45th) – consistency/effectiveness from the QB will eventually make the entire team better, so we feel Jones should choose wisely with this factor in mind. The Warriors will also spend the whole year fighting to find a go-to receiver. The running game will be more productive, if only because it has to be, but inexperience in the passing game will devastate a team that liked to throw 70 percent of the time. Forget scoring five touchdowns a game; this is an offense that will settle into the 24-25 point per game range.


OG Samson Satele


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Tyler Graunke-Fr (5-11, 179) Jeffrey Rhode-Sr (6-5, 224)
Inoke Funaki-Fr (5-11, 190)
Kainoa Akina-Sr (5-11, 186)
RB Nate Ilaoa-Sr (5-9, 240) Brian Maneafaiga-Sr (5-8, 184)
WR Ian Sample-Sr (5-10, 195) Marcus Weems-Jr (6-3, 192)
WR Ross Dickerson-Jr (5-11, 190) Chad Mock-Jr (5-11, 175)
WR Jason Ferguson-So (5-5, 157) Devon Bess-Fr (5-11, 190)
WR Patrick Olchovy-So (5-8, 169) Nate Ilaoa-Sr (5-9, 240)
OT Tala Esera-Jr (6-3, 290) Keith Ah-Soon-Fr (6-1, 297)
OG Samson Satele-Jr (6-2, 278) Hercules Satele-So (6-2, 279)
C Derek Faavi-Sr (6-0, 271) Marques Kaonohi-Jr (6-0, 269)
OG Brandon Eaton-Sr (6-2, 291) Jeremy Inferrera-Jr (6-2, 284)
OT Dane Uperesa-Jr (6-5, 328) ..
K Nolan Miranda-Jr (5-8, 163) ..



Defensive Line
As they seek a turnaround from 2004 (117th against the run), the Warriors will depend on Melila Purcell (All-WAC) to lead them. The senior end has exceptional speed and strength, which helped him spend half of 2004 in the opposition’s backfield. He will continue to be the main force, for there is little experience next to him. Tony Akpan, a former basketball player, brings exceptional size and quickness to the other end spot. The two tackle spots will be occupied by a host of young, inexperienced players. As good as Purcell is, he’s again forced to rely on marginal talent adjacent to him, so the Warriors look to again be vulnerable against the run.

Tanuvasa Moe is primed for a big year. The outside backer has always had good strength and speed, but he has bulked up about 15 pounds to make him more versatile. The Warriors will often line him up against linemen. A father of three, Moe is also a key leader. Kila Kamakawiwo’ole moves back from his end spot, although his role won’t change much. He’s got the speed to get sacks and can chase down running backs; he’s also got the strength to beat linemen; and, to boot, he’s got the skills to cover tight ends and backs. There are many quality athletes throughout this unit’s depth chart, so the Warriors will see this group grow and improve.

Defensive Back
Hawaii was nearly as bad against the pass (83rd) as it was against the run, but the Warriors were also young. Inverse to the offense, this unit’s efficiency ranking (64th) means they know how to optimize their efforts. There is a host of veteran experience this time around. Leonard Peters is the one true playmaker in the group. He’s the most versatile player on the defense, with toughness to make tackles (team leader) anywhere on the field, and the speed and quickness to cover well. Corner Kenny Patton (36-inch vertical) can also cover anyone. Senior safety Lamar Broadway has been a key to the defense for two years, but needs more big plays on his résumé for Hawai’i to be at its defensive best.

UH’s offensive production helped to mask a terrible defense. Army was the only team in the country to give up more yards (than UH’s 487.77 per game), and only five teams gave up more than their 38.4 per game. That’s why Jones hired defensive legend Jerry Glanville as his coordinator. His experience may not immediately improve results, but it will just be a matter of time until Glanville can maximize the potential of each defender. There are but-a-few playmakers on this defense, and Glanville will make a difference – how much of one will go a long way (along with the QB play) toward defining what is found at the end for/of the Rainbow Warriors. The -4:34 differential in playing time from one side of the ball to the other is a key stat – just keeping the defense off the field for those few extra minutes would allow hot, tired legs to go from guys marginally “putting their fingers into a leaking dyke” (and barely holding on) to hungry defensive studs who – together – equal more than the sum of their parts (which is all they have been as of late).


DB Leonard Peters


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Melila Purcell-Sr (6-4, 266) Karl Noa-So (6-4, 225)
DT Michael Lafaele-So (6-1, 297) Kahai LaCount-Jr (6-2, 297)
DT Keala Watson-Fr (6-2, 299) Clarence Tuioti-Mariner-Fr (6-1, 261)
DE Ikaika Alama-Francis-Jr (6-6, 215) Kila Kamakawiwo'ole-Sr (6-3, 241)
Tony Akpan-Sr (6-6, 274)
STUB C.J. Allen-Jones-So (6-2, 204) Victor Fergerstrom-Jr (5-9, 206)
MACK Ikaika Curnan-Sr (5-10, 221) Timo Paepula-So (6-0, 241)
WILL Tanuvasa Moe-Sr (5-11, 210) Brad Kalilimoku-So (5-11, 201)
CB Turmarian Moreland-Sr (6-0, 194) Ryan Keomaka-So (5-10, 157)
CB Kenny Patton-Jr (6-0, 187) Omega Hogan-Sr (5-9, 164)
SS Lono Manners-Sr (5-10, 204) Landon Kafentzis-Sr (6-0, 194)
Michael Malala-Jr (6-2, 195)
FS Leonard Peters-Sr (6-1, 184) Lamar Broadway-Sr (5-11, 175)
P Kurt Milne-Jr (6-0, 196) ..




Nolan Miranda finally gets the kicking duties to himself. The former walk-on excelled when given a chance late in ‘03, but hasn’t kicked since. Miranda has a strong, accurate leg up to about 50 yards. Beyond that, the Warriors should trot out the punt unit. As the defense improves, those extra LBs and DBs will lower Hawai’i’s coverage numbers below 25+ per KR. Consistently giving the D five more yards here would be huge, too.

Kurt Milne isn’t going to boom any kicks, but the three-year starter is adequate. Milne’s been very good throughout his career at pinning opponents inside their 20. Defending returns has to keep foes under seven per PR, for allowing 10+ in ‘04 was just another marginal factor that made their closer losses seem winnable. A dropoff in their own returns is probable (see below), so a few shaved yards here become even more important.

Return Game
The Warriors returned five punts and one kickoff for paydirt, but the players responsible for those scores are gone. Ferguson is already amongst the WAC’s top KRs, so his speed makes him a threat to break one at any time. That’s why he’ll also get first crack at the vacant PR job, but another will likely get the nod.