Hawaii finished just short of a bowl bid last season, but hopes were high going into 2010 with the return of quarterback Bryant Moniz. The junior emerged as the starter after walking onto the team and finding himself sixth on the depth chart. But he worked his way up and got into the lineup after several injuries gave the Warriors no other choice. Still, nobody could have anticipated the giant leap Moniz took this season. He threw for a nation-leading 4,629 yards and 36 touchdowns, making Hawaii one of the most prolific offenses in the country. He had help of course from Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares, who combined for nearly 3,000 yards and 27 of those touchdown passes. Salas has caught a pass in 40 straight games en route to All-WAC first-team honors. Let’s not forget the Warriors also had a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time since 1992 in Alex Green. Hawaii scored 40 or more points in eight games this season and topped the nation in passing.
Defensively, linebacker Corey Paredes had a monster season with 144 tackles, and safety Mana Silva was tied for the nation lead with eight interceptions. Kicker Scott Enos also ended the regular season converting a school-record 100 straight extra-point attempts. Hawaii may have gotten blown out by Boise State, but the Warriors beat Nevada and that was good enough to win a share of the WAC championship. The Warriors also won 10 games for just the sixth time in school history.
Offensive MVP: QB Bryant Moniz. What more can you say about a guy who had to take a side job delivering pizzas when he first walked on at Hawaii? Moniz exceeded all expectations with his incredible season. His total passing yards were the second-highest total in school history, and he set the school single-game passing record with 560 yards against San Jose State.
Defensive MVP: LB Corey Paredes. He led the team in tackles, and ranked 11th in the nation. Not only that, Paredes was a key member of a defense that led all FBS teams in turnovers forced with 36, including a nation-leading 23 interceptions.
Turning point: A 27-21 win over Nevada on Oct. 16 set the stage for the Warriors to become co-WAC champs. They did an excellent job shutting down Colin Kaepernick and forcing him into four turnovers.
What’s next: Hawaii plays Tulsa in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24, and could be the favorite in the WAC next season with Boise State leaving for the Mountain West and Nevada losing Kaepernick, Vai Taua and Dontay Moch.