The 2018 college football season kicked off to a good start with four FBS matches played on Saturday, August 25th. The NCAA always schedules a “Week Zero” where teams play games that can’t be fit very well into the schedule through the rest of the season. One of the games, aired on CBS Sports Network, turned us on to a huge surprise.
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors traveled to Colorado Springs and played the Colorado State Rams. Colorado State was expected to roll to a very good start, as Hawaii struggled mightily last season ending 3-9 with not very many positives.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Cole McDonald, however, put on a clinic. Hawaii switched from a traditional offense to an Air Raid scheme during the off season. Standing at 6’4″ and 205 pounds, McDonald executed a brand new offensive scheme to perfection.
Cole McDonald has changed the course of Hawaii’s season
Hawaii had ended conference play with a 1-7 record last season, and now found themselves kicking off conference play, on the road, to start the season. The Rams had manhandled the Warriors last season, knocking them 51-21 in Hawaii. With the offense loosing starting quarterback Dru Brown to Oklahoma State, and starting a new offensive scheme, not much was expected from this team this season.
8/25 @HawaiiFootball @ @CSUFootball @CBSSportsNet 7:peR
Hawaii will be improved from LY because of scheme change. Still lacking experience at QB. CSU landed KJ Carta-Samuels from UW and have a better team in general. QBs are the keys to this game.
— John Vogel (@lwosjohnv) August 20, 2018
McDonald threw for 418 yards and 3 TD’s and failed to turn over the football. He executed Run/Pass Option (RPO) plays to a tee, gaining an additional 96 yards and 2 TD’s. He led his offense to 617 yards of total offense and a 37-7 lead in the 3rd quarter.
Colorado State isn’t a pushover team either. They have one of the best recruiters in the Mountain West Conference, head coach Mike Bobo. He has compiled a lot of talent to both sides of the football and Colorado State was expected to be a top 10 team outside of the Power Five conferences.
Cole’s strengths as a quarterback
Now, we break down his technique a little bit. He has a strange release. It’s almost like a softball wind up, but he get’s the ball there accurately. His 70.3% completion percentage is testimony to that fact.
INCREDIBLE start to the real football season: Cole McDonald, a dual threat QB making his first start, has all five Hawaii touchdowns. Averaging 11.3 YPA w 3 passing TDs, 9.3 YPC w 2 rushing TDs. Here are all 5 TDs. pic.twitter.com/2oh2dBjrD7
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 26, 2018
His footwork is very good for a red-shirt freshman. He has a consistent drop and plant that makes allows him to play consistently. He gets away from pressure with ease, and it’s hard to bottle him up in the pocket.
Look at his understanding of defensive coverage’s and ball placement. On the 2nd touchdown throw to John Ursua, he reads the play perfectly and throws the ball in the perfect place. Low and in front of the defender. The third touchdown it’s the same thing. Hit’s his receiver in stride for the walk in touchdown.
McDonald appears to be the unquestioned leader. He has excellent awareness on the field and understands that he responsible for this team. He has willingly put the team on his back and is destined to do great things.
Where is the ceiling for McDonald?
It’s hard to anoint McDonald a Heisman favorite based upon one game, but he looks the part already. His supporting cast might be good enough to give him a head start too.
A look at the future schedule for Hawaii is very telling. This week, a home game against Navy could be a test as he will be playing against a disciplined defense. After that, Wyoming on October 6th will be the real test as the team will face a defensive line featuring two future NFL players. Wyoming played last Saturday too, stiffing an improved New Mexico State offense in a 29-7 victory.
Realistically, at the most, McDonald could be Mountain West Player of the Year. He’s a red-shirt freshman and could be exposed at some point of the season, ending a Heisman run. Also, he plays in a conference outside of the Power five, one that hasn’t produced a Heisman winner since Ty Detmer won it in 1990 at BYU.
But if anyone has a chance to do it, this guy just might. Yes, you can name me as a Cole McDonald fan.
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