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Scouting Hawaii: A look at the 2015 Rainbow Warriors

Hawaii head coach Norm Chow was left looking for answers against Southern California at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday, September 1, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. USC topped Hawaii, 49-10. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Hawaii head coach Norm Chow was left looking for answers against Southern California at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday, September 1, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. USC topped Hawaii, 49-10. (Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Although Ohio State left Blacksburg, Virginia, victorious Monday night, Virginia Tech made the defending national champions work for the win for much of the night.

Now, the Buckeyes can turn their attention away from the team that gave them their only loss in 2014 to the visiting Hawaii Rainbow Warriors squad that won only four games last year.

Here is a look at the Scarlet and Gray’s next opponent:

Starting off on the right foot

The Rainbow Warriors had an abysmal 2014 season, but they opened the 2015 season in much better fashion with a 28-20 win over the Colorado Buffaloes in Week One.

Although the game ended in controversy after an error in spotting the ball by the referees caused time to expire on the threatening Buffaloes, it still counts as a W in the win-loss column and gives the Rainbow Warriors a solid foundation for the rest of their season.

It was the first time since 2011 that Hawaii won its season opener, as well as the program’s first win over a Power 5 conference team under the direction of coach Norm Chow.

Upgrade on the islands

Last year, quarterback play was a weakness for the Warriors. Then-sophomore Ikaika Woolsey struggled, completing only 50 percent of passes and throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns, with 13.

That position has since been upgraded as redshirt senior and former USC quarterback Max Wittek is now at the helm.

Wittek — who fans might remember after, in 2012, he mistakenly guaranteed that unranked USC would upset top-ranked Notre Dame prior to his first career start in place of the injured Matt Barkley — threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns against Colorado last week.

He has a big frame at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, and a strong arm. Although he probably won’t light up the Buckeyes’ secondary, Wittek can make nearly all of the throws required in Chow’s offense and is one of the more talented players suiting up for the Warriors.

Improvements defensively so far

The 2014 Hawaii defense was far from being daunting, as it allowed 419 yards per game.

However, the defense looked slightly better in Week One, as it limited the Buffaloes offense to just two trips into the endzone while also forcing three turnovers.

Senior defensive lineman Luke Shawley had a monster game, as he racked up 14 tackles, including 1.5 sacks.

Cornerback Ne’Quan Phillips started all 13 games last season, and he’s back for his senior year. He played well against the Buffaloes, tallying six tackles, two of which were sacks.

The defense has had a strong showing so far. Although that sample size is too small to judge the 2015 Rainbow Warrior unit, it is a positive sign compared to last season’s performance.

Unfortunately for Chow and his staff, however improved the unit appeared to be against the Buffaloes, the Buckeye offense is an entirely different animal than what they faced in Honolulu on Thursday.

Look good, play good?

On Thursday, visuals of the special edition uniforms that the Rainbow Warriors will don against the Buckeyes surfaced.

The 1980s retro-inspired jerseys, designed by Under Armor, feature white helmets, jerseys and pants that are spruced up by rainbows.

The pants have a vertical rainbow stripe running up the sides. The jerseys — with green numbers and no names on the back — have a rainbow on the shoulders.

The helmets have the letters “UH” with a comet-looking rainbow flowing from them.

No matter how the game ends up for Hawaii, they will at least look good in the process.

Beyond the Buckeyes

After their trip to Columbus, the Rainbow Warriors are set to face UC Davis at home on Sept. 19 before traveling to Madison, Wisconsin, where they are scheduled to take on their second Big Ten opponent in the Wisconsin Badgers.

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