Hawaii Falls to No. 1 USC in Season Opener, 49-10
By Rodney S. Yap
The University of Hawai’i Warrior football team made some noise in the second half, but it was not nearly enough in a 49-10 season-opening loss to top-ranked USC Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
USC capitalized on a bevy of big plays — including a touchdown on its first play from scrimmage — to cruise past the Warriors. In the process the Trojans spoiled the debut of new Warrior head coach Norm Chow, who served as offensive coordinate during two national title seasons at USC.
“Obviously we played a tremendous football team today that was very talented and well coached,” Chow said. “I thought we played hard and I told our players I’m very proud of their effort. We have a long way to go and I told them that. We thought we would give them a better battle. We made too many mistakes early in the game with some dropped balls and special teams and missed tackles. But there’s a long way to go.”
It was an inauspicious start for the Warriors as the Trojans scored on its very first play when Heisman Trophy front-runner Matt Barkley connected with Marquis Lee for a 75- yard touchdown. It was part of a big first half for USC, which took a commanding 35-0 lead by the break.
Barkley completed 23-of-38 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns, while the Trojans also scored on an interception return and kickoff return in the win.
“We ran the same playing coming out as they did. They run a hitch and Marquis goes for 80 yards and we run a hitch and it goes for 8 yards. Marquis made a heck of move and he’s a tremendous player. They not only have great players but they’re great young people.
“But this is about us and the effort we gave. I told them at the half we come out like it’s 0-0 and we gave a good second half effort.
“We started only one senior and a bunch of kids who never played before. There will be jitters and tough times. In the second half, we settled down. I told our kids we could still go 10-1.”
Adjusting to a new offensive scheme for the first time in nearly 15 years, the Warriors turned the ball over four times and endured some early struggles before finding its rhythm in the second half.
Sean Schroeder completed 24-of-39 passes for 208 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions in his debut as Warrior quarterback. After a rough first half, the junior helped lead UH to a pair of scoring drives in the second half.
“I thought we were prepared and came out with good energy. I’m proud of how the team played and fought until the end. We’ve got to execute more and cut down on the mental mistakes, myself included.
“In the second half, we settled down and got into the game plan and executed. We took it right at them and played hard and it started clicking,” said Schroeder.
“You always look for the victory first, but we played hard. We need to fix the mental errors and play sound assignment football.”
The Warriors marched 69 yards on its opening drive of the second half to finally get on the board. Schroeder connected with Scott Harding on an 18-yard touchdown, a career first for both players. Schroeder also guided an 11-play, 57-yard drive that ended in a 36-yard Tyler Hadded field goal.
“We started the second half like it was 0-0 and the first drive showed — and it showed our fans — that we could actually play football,” Harding said.
However, it was too-little, too-late against a Trojan squad that tacked on a 100-yard kickoff return by Lee and Barkley’s fourth touchdown pass of the game in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
The Trojans out-gained UH, 353-83, by halftime and finished with a 475-264 yardage advantage.
The Warriors will have a bye next week before playing their home opener against Lamar on Saturday, Sept. 15. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.
OTHER GAME NOTES:
* UH is now 0-3 all-time against the No. 1-ranked team in the country with two of those losses vs. USC. UH lost its 2005 season-opener to No. 1 USC, 63-17, in Honolulu. UH’s other loss against a top-ranked team came in 1971 vs. Nebraska (45-3).
* UH dropped to 10-35 all-time record against nationally ranked teams, 3-14 against the Top 10 and 1-13 against ranked teams on the road.
* UH dropped to 1-9 all-time against BCS conference teams on the road.
* UH remains winless in eight meetings against USC.
* The teams are scheduled to meet again next season (Aug. 31 in Honolulu).
* UH made its 59th all-time appearances on national television and now is 17-40-2 record in those games.
* UH’s Norm Chow made his head coaching debut against USC, where he spent four seasons as offensive coordinator (2001-04).
* Chow is the fourth straight UH head coach to drop his debut. Prior to Chow were Greg McMackin (2008, at Florida 56-10), June Jones (1999, USC 62-7) and Fred vonAppen (1996, Boston College 24-21). Bob Wagner was the last head coach to win his first game (1987, Cal State Fullerton 44-0).
* UH’s 35-point halftime deficit was its largest since a 49-0 halftime score at Fresno State in 2004.