Michigan Football: Scouting Hawaii’s Offensive Line

This series will take a closer look at the offensive line and play calling we can expect from Michigan Football’s weekly opponent. This week we’re taking a look at the offensive line of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, a veteran unit with plenty of experience, to see how they fit with Michigan’s defensive line.

Throughout the offseason, we’ve heard constant concerns about the Wolverines’ defensive line. “How will they replace Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo?” We’re only one game into the 2022 campaign, but the first week has shown a resounding answer to that question, a very balanced and offensive approach that resulted in eight different players Sacks mattered. The CSU Rams weren’t exactly an elite opponent by any stretch of the imagination, but the early performance was quite encouraging, suggesting that Michigan football will likely rely less on an individual star or two and more of a crowd of edge rushers and linemen in the Mixture will bring pressure.

This week, the group meets Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors, who will be playing their third game. Under the stewardship of freshman head coach Timmy Chang, it was a rough start for Hawaii, a 63-10 home win over Vanderbilt followed by a 49-17 loss to Western Kentucky. In fact, Hawaii was even named by ESPN writer Ryan McGee as one of the ten worst teams in the country, along with Michigan’s opponent next week, UCONN (ranked #7 worst in the nation). This week will likely be similarly fair, with the Wolverines taking a big lead and involving a lot of people.

But getting back to the actual question, let’s take a look at exactly what Michigan needs (or doesn’t need to worry about) when it comes to their defensive front against Hawaii’s offensive line.

HONOLULU, HI – DECEMBER 24: Jared Smart #23 of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors is hoisted by Ilm Manning #75 after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the BYU Cougars of the Hawai’i Bowl on December 24 at Aloha Stadium , 2019 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

Left tackle: #75 Ilm Manning (R. Sr., 6’4, 295 lbs.)

Manning is the longest-serving player on that Rainbow Warriors offensive line and has started almost every game for Hawaii since he came to campus as a freshman in 2018. With a total of 47 starts and the extra year of eligibility (COVID), it’s back for new orienteering coach Roman Sapolu, previously at Fresno State. Manning was a 2021 Honorable Mention All-Conference player at Mountain West last season.

Watching the film, Manning is definitely the best of this group, displaying a smooth, quick kick slide as blindside protection. He uses his hands well to stop rushers, can hit independently and restore leverage when needed. However, he gave up a sack against Vanderbilt and also had a false start penalty against Western Kentucky.

Against the run, Manning is solid when it comes to fending off edge rushers and has solid enough footwork to reach full-backs. But Manning, like much of the Hawaii offensive line, lacks the power to consistently push defenders off the line of scrimmage and create gaps and seams for running backs to hit. A solid player, at least by Mountain West’s standards.

Left guard: #66 Sergio Muasau (R. So., 6’0, 315 lbs.)

Muasau will take on that role after starting LG Stephan Bernal-Wendt was injured against Western Kentucky last week. He played a bit in 2020, appearing in eight games according to the Hawaii website, and then entering the game against the Hilltoppers in the second quarter.

Muasau definitely has the least amount of film available, but he’s a fairly fast player who simply lacks the size and power to get much boost in the running game. He also struggled with pass protection against WKU, with a handful of pressure coming from his submission. He struggles to fire his hands accurately and with power, making them easy to beat and thus an easy twist to rush the QB.

Middle: #61 Eliki Tanuvasa (R. Jr., 6’2, 300 lbs.)

Tanuvasa is technically adept on film, but lacks the athletic ability or size to really capitalize on it. Against Western Kentucky, he displayed a quick out-of-hand punch, quickly chested defensive tackles, but was just as quickly driven into the backfield, unable to sit down and anchor and stop the oncoming Bull Rush. Going up against an insanely strong player like Mazi Smith will certainly challenge the undersized center.

And against the run, things didn’t fare much better for Tanuvasa, as he consistently failed to generate movement against the internal rotation of Western Kentucky’s 6’1, 305 lbs. Senior Darius Shipp and the 6’5, 330 lbs. Redshirt Senior Brodric Martin. Michigan Football will field some physically similar players themselves, with Mazi Smith at 337 lbs and Mason Graham at 317 lbs tipping the scales.

Right Guard: #71 Micah Vanterpool (R. Sr., 6’6, 315 lbs.)

Like Manning, Vanterpool was an honorable mention for the All-MWC team last fall after starting in 11 games and dropping just two sacks in the season. Vanterpool is certainly the most stable and versatile player in this group. While Manning is a good pass protector but a weak run blocker, Vanterpool does both at a pretty good level and is actually the best run blocker on the unit, according to Pro Football Focus.

Despite a very long frame at 6ft 6, Vanterpool shows good flex and leverage as a run blocker and when anchoring against the bull rush inside. He struggled a bit with exploding from a standing position, as he was often the last of the five linemen to mess with the man across from them, but once he does he can generate enough movement to help Hawaii, to maintain some semblance of balance in his offense.

Right tackle: #77 Austin Hopp (R. Sr., 6’6, 310 lbs.)

Originally from Minnetonka, Minnesota, Hopp originally became involved with western Illinois after leaving high school. He played four seasons for the Leathernecks and was named a 2018 Phil Steele FCS Freshman All-American. He moved to Hawaii before last season and played for the Rainbow Warriors all year.

Hopp was arguably the weakest link in the Rainbow Warriors’ line of defense, but he was probably my favorite run blocker. He has very long arms but finds it difficult to use them to sever the pass guard, instead leaning well over his feet exposing his chest and negating the leverage of his arms. His footwork can also get a little sloppy at times. Against Vanderbilt, a poorly aimed punch bared his chest rather poorly, leading to a strong arm movement from the Commodore DE and a quick transition into a sack.

However, Hopp’s strengths lie in the running game. It is of sufficient size and strength to dislodge people if it makes close contact. However, he sniffs blocks from time to time. When he gets into defenders, he has a solid squat, drives his legs through the block, and closes the ground to the second level quickly and efficiently. He had a very good reputation in the WKU game, after Vanterpool passed a 3 technique running diagonally towards him, Hopp managed to regain leverage and dig the tackle out far enough to clear a hole for the running back to come out of he could get out seven yards.

Hawaii Offensive Scheme

Timmy Chang runs a fairly similar style of offense to Jay Norvell, with a heavy emphasis on throwing the ball quickly to receivers on shorter haul combinations. However, Chang’s offense fits better under the moniker “run and shoot” than under the airstrike. The main difference is that Run and Shoot emphasizes pre-snap motion to open receivers and get them into advantageous match-ups, and has fewer empty sets on average than Air Raid.

It’s also a little more balanced, and honestly the Rainbow Warriors will likely have a pretty solid running game when they enter the conference portion of their schedule. RB Dedrick Parson showed some very good running skills in his duel with Vanderbilt and the experience of this group will certainly pay off.

However, this probably won’t be pretty against Michigan Football. Hawaii’s offense has been unable to consistently move the ball in both matchups and their OL, while the experienced are very poorly built to take on Michigan’s defensive line. The Hawaii OL simply lacks the size and strength Michigan has in spades. For example, just look at these comparisons:

  • Mike Morris: 6’6, 292 lbs. vs. Ilm Manning: 6’4, 295lbs.
  • Mason Graham: 6’3, 315lbs. vs. Sergio Muasau: 6’0, 315 lbs.
  • Mazi Smith: 6’3, 337 pounds. vs. Eliki Tanuvasa: 6’2, 300lbs.
  • Chris Jenkin: 6’3, 285lbs. vs. Micha Vanterpool: 6’6, 315 pounds.
  • Taylor Upshaw: 6’4, 255 pounds. vs. Austin Hop: 6’6, 310 lbs.

These are not good matchups for the Hawaii OL. Traditionally, the OL is often larger everywhere except at the nose tackle. For Hawaii, they’re only significantly larger in two places, and that’s not even factoring in the speed off the edge that guys like Jaylen Harrell can bring.

Hawaii’s orienteering will do well in Mountain West, but things could get ugly in the trenches against Michigan, and that’s exactly what Jim Harbaugh and Mike Elston want.

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