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CFF Targets - Hawaii's 5'7 Swiss Army knife set to eviscerate the MWC?
Timmy Chang's run-n-shoot offence has RB/WR Tylan Hines on VP watch headed into 2023
Hawaii’s the 50th state? I thought it was a suburb of Guam.
– Bobby Heenan, Wrestler
That line of thinking from Heenan’s quote reflects the thinking in the CFF community when it comes to the Hawaii Rainbows, as it is an often forgotten about program; an afterthought, if you will.
There are reasons for this: 1) they are a small program located beyond the mainland borders of the country and 2) in recent years, there have been few elite CFF assets to come through this program. The most notable Rainbow of recent memory in the CFF space was Calvin Turner Jr., a do-it-all swiss-army knife who did everything and then some for the Rainbow’s on offence and in special teams. Since Turner’s breakout season in 2020, I’ve tried to keep an eye on this program every offseason.
In fact, Turner holds a special place in my heart, and I explain why in an anecdote at the end of this article.
The focus of this article, however, is on Hawaii’s 5’7 secret weapon Tylan Hines.
Signs point towards Hines seeing major usage in ‘23 via two capacities
Like Calvin Turner, Hawaii now has another versatile RB/WR hybrid on its roster, and his name is Tylan Hines. A rising sophomore out of Mount Pleasant, TX, Hines showed he could be a dangerous weapon in this offence last season as he ran for 634 yards and 2 TDs on 83 attempts (7.6 ypc!) and was targeted 18 times, of which he caught 9 passes for 82 yards.
Those are good numbers considering he was RB2 behind Dedrick Parson, who rushed for 830 yards himself, while tallying 11 scores on 183 attempts and catching 30 passes (36 targets) for an additional 171 yards and a score. Parson departs the roster and with that leaves a production vacancy for Hines to slide into.
Not only does the team’s leading runner depart, so does WR1 Zion Bowens. That leaves a significant gap for the younger pups to fill, and Hines seems best positioned to fill in as the next leader. Hines’ leading competitor is RB Nasjzae Bryant, who was supposed to be the RB2 last season behind Parson but ultimately lost that spot to Hines. Bryant still finished with 245 yards rushing and 3 scores on 45 carries. Despite that, the pathway to volume pig status appears open both as a runner and as a receiver for Hines. The early signs from spring suggest he’ll be utilized heavily in each capacity, too.
Hawaii head coach Timmy Chang’s run-n-shoot offence is one not often seen in today’s college football landscape. In preparing for this article, I realized that I actually do not know what this style of offence entails. Luckily, in 2023, we are no longer in the stone ages of the 2010s anymore, and I was able to consult chatGPT, which provided me this answer:
The Run and Shoot offense emphasizes passing plays, particularly deep routes and quick throws, while also allowing for a significant amount of running plays.
The system is designed to create confusion and mismatches for the defense by using a formation with three or four receivers spread across the field, which can force the defense to spread out and cover more ground. This leaves gaps in the defense, which the offense can exploit with quick passes or by running the ball with a mobile quarterback.
The Run and Shoot offense places a great deal of trust in the quarterback, who has a lot of freedom to make decisions at the line of scrimmage based on what he sees from the defense. The receivers also need to be able to read the defense and adjust their routes accordingly.
The Run and Shoot offense was first popularized in the 1980s and 1990s by college football coach Mouse Davis and was later adopted by professional teams such as the Houston Oilers and the Atlanta Falcons. While the system is not as commonly used today, some elements of the Run and Shoot offense can be seen in many modern offensive schemes.
Interesting, as I expect Hines to see dual usage in the run and pass I suppose it doesn’t really matter what the style of the offence is, as along as he’s a focal point — which, by the sounds of it, he will be. Here’s an excerpt from one of the latest reports on Hawaii’s spring camp:
Sophomore Tylan Hines, the Rainbow Warriors’ most established back, who rushed 83 times for 634 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman, is splitting his practice reps evenly between running back and slotback. He caught nine passes for 82 yards in UH’s hybrid RPO system in 2022.
When asked about the plan for him in 2023, Hines had this to say:
The plan is to maximize my potential . . . however far they want me to go with it, I’m going to go with it.
Apparently, HC Chang plans to bring back the old shovel pass to the RB too. It would appear that that is good news for Hines:
I hope everybody gets tickled by it. It’s nostalgic . . . It’s a good feeling when you see those guys catch it. I think Nate (Ilaoa, former Hawaii back) averaged about 30 yards per carry on that thing. So it’ll be in the playbook.
Nate Ilaoa, who Chang is referencing in that quote, had an absurd senior season for the Rainbows back in 2006 when he accounted for over 1800 total yards and 18 TDs as a rusher and receiver.
Hawaii OC Ian Shoemaker’s track record with RBs is also intriguing
Shoemaker has been Hawaii OC since the 2022 season but before that, he served as the OC for the FCS program Eastern Washington Eagles.
In 2021, Shoemaker’s RB1 Dennis Merritt ran 201 times for 933 yards and 15 TDs, while adding another 370 yards receiving and 3 more scores on 32 receptions. I like those TD numbers. Shoot, who wouldn’t? The second leading RB had 54 carries.
The 2020 season was a wash with COVID going on.
In 2019, Antoine Cluster Jr. led the Eagles with 1228 yards rushing and 16 TDs on 195 attempts, as well as catching 28 passes for 224 yards. The second leading RB had 57 carries.
I am intrigued by the fact that Shoemaker, while not necessarily deploying an overwhelmingly run-heavy approach, does have a tendency to have a clear RB1 by carry volume. He is also no stranger to using his runners in the pass game. That’s exactly what the doctor ordered for Hines in 2023.
Before Eastern Washington Shoemaker spent five seasons (2014-2018) as the head coach of Division II program Central Washington. In his final year, the Wildcats had two 1000+ yard rushers. Both Cooper and Roots caught over 200 yards receiving each, with Roots adding 3 more TD scores.
I am encouraged by the OC’s track record and lack of other elite athletes on the roster. It almost seems too good to be true — a Calvin Turner / Deuce Vaughn-esque hybrid ready to be unleashed?
You know what they say about things that seem too good to be true…
First things first, Hawaii is likely to be a poor team next year. I can say that with confidence because just-about every year they are expected to be poor. That means that scoring TDs might be hard to come by for Hines, or at the very least, his rushing attempts may not see the boost as hoped. This concern is slightly assuaged by the fact that Hines is going to be a threat in the pass game also.
The second thing is that Hines struggled with fumbles last year, as he fumbled three times each as a receiver and as a runner. The fumble concerns could lead to his playing time being capped, or even losing his spot as RB1/SB1 (slotback) at a moment’s notice. Though, luckily for Hines, Hawaii is not exactly beaming with talent, so the leash should be fairly long.
While it sounds like the staff is high on Hines, they don’t have a track record of major usage for their RBs. Parson averaged just over 16 touches a game last season. That’s solid, but it's not otherworldly either. I would expect as an optimistic scenario that Hines would be able to match that volume in 2023. As he is only 5’7, it seems unlikely that he’s ever going to see 20 carries a game (my assistant tells me Marquez Cooper and Deuce Vaughn would like a word on that). But, I am hoping that through the pass game volume he can get close to 20 touches a game.
That leads me to my next concern which is that the QB play was very poor last season. I can chalk some of that up to the fact that it was a new system, new players, new staff etc. but as the pass game usage is expected to be a critical part of Hines’ CFF profile, it’s something to keep in mind.
VP’s final thoughts: I’m looking at Hines as a late round type of player that I plan to acquire in my drafts this summer. I like the upside a lot and although this article won’t help with this — Hines is a pretty under-the-radar name in the CFF community. Low risk high upside profiles are always my favourite (yea… you and everyone else VP), so I’m excited about Hines. Non-VolumePigs readers better hope Hines doesn’t get dual RB/WR eligibility on Fantrax like Turner did in 2021; all of a sudden that 16 touch/game benchmark that Parson set would look pretty filthy for a WR eligible Hines. If that happens, there won’t be a league I participate in where I don’t roster Hines on my way to multiple CFF championships.
Disclosure: there are no CFF insights provided below, simply some VP ramblings from the 2021 CFF season.
Anecdote about Calvin Turner Jr.
In the main league I participated in during the 2021 college football season, I orchestrated the construction of what is likely the best CFF roster I will ever assemble. One of the strengths of the roster was the WR room — Justin Hall (Ball St.), Calvin Turner Jr. (Hawaii), Jerreth Sterns (WKU), and Deven Thompkins (Utah St.). I had drafted the first three in rounds four, six and nine, respectively, and I picked up Thompkins off of the wire in week one (I believe at the time he had a 6% ownership across all leagues). That squad was rolling over my competitors throughout the fall until one late October Saturday, when bye-weeks stacked up a nightmare scenario for my matchup that weekend. I had no RBs available, forced to scavenge the wire I started two runners that I was not overwhelmingly confident in; and I did something I never do, which is play a WR in my flex spot instead of a RB. It was a necessary evil at the time, and so through the WRs and the flex spot I started the four WRs listed above, who were luckily not on bye that week.
My opponent got off to an incredibly hot start, as he had Arkansas’ duo of KJ Jefferson and Treylon Burks vs. Arkansas Pine-Bluff, TE Payne Durham had one of his patented bi-weekly 20+ point fantasy performances, and Blake Corum ran all over Northwestern.
My players were struggling, my runners in particular. Tyrion Davis-Price did not have the performance I was hoping for vs. Ole Miss, ditto for Marquez Cooper vs. Ohio. I feared my winning streak was about to end, and with it, my chances at the #1 seed for the playoff.
As it happens, I had just finished watching the Netflix hit series Squid Games with my girlfriend, and I was visiting my parents that weekend. I decided I’d watch it again as they wanted to binge it with me. As it was a Saturday, I feared I would be missing out on the glorious college football happenings of the day, however, as the matchup did not look good early on (there was around a 100 point gap at that point), I decided I would tune out, fearing the loss was inevitable.
Fast forward around ten hours and several gruesomely murdered Koreans later, and it is midnight EST, my parents and I discuss what we’ve been watching as I prepare to go to bed. Being the degenerate that I am, I decided to check the Fantrax app to see the score. What I found was incredible — my team (thanks to herculean efforts by TE Cole Turner, and WKU’s Zappe and Sterns) had pulled within 15 points of my opponent. My opponents roster had completed all of their games, while my squad had one left. You can probably guess who that player was by the kickoff time. Yes, the Hawaii Rainbows were kicking off at midnight EST and my team’s hopes and dreams rested on Calvin Turner’s shoulders.
I decided I couldn’t possibly go to sleep, as I had a renewed sense of hope and adrenaline. Turner was averaging over 20 FPG that season and so, while it would be tight, I felt optimistic. Hawaii was playing vs. New Mexico State, who coincidently, they had played already that season a few weeks earlier. Turner had 4 receptions for 52 yards and a score, and ran for 66 yards on 6 carries that game. In our league’s scoring format, these numbers were good for over 18 fantasy points. So, I felt the chances were good, but not certain, that we could close this gap.
Watching the first quarter was maddening, they couldn’t get Turner the ball to save their lives, and he barely had 2 fantasy points through 15 minutes. The second quarter looked to be the same before my stomach sank on one of Turner’s kickoff returns. Turner was down on the field holding his hand. To make matters worse, the idiot-commentators did not provide any relevant details, so I took to twitter to see if I could find out what happened. It appeared at the time that Turner had broken a finger, and he did not return for the remainder of the second quarter. At halftime (around 1:30am in the morning at this point) I decided that I was done. I couldn’t handle the ups and downs of the day anymore. It was time for me to go to sleep, and while my squad put up a valiant effort, we would be taking a loss.
Around 5am I awoke from my sleep. Realizing that the game must be over at that point, my curiosity got the best of me. I opened my phone to check the Fantrax app — the first thing I noticed was that my team had won. Still not quite in my senses, I thought that it was odd, and I figured there must have been a glitch in the app, so I checked the scoring. As it turns out, Calvin Turner taped his hand, returned to the game — virtually unable to catch passes, and managed to break off a long run of 75 yards for a touchdown. All told, he finished the game with 5 catches (mostly from the first half) for 30 yards, and 6 rushing attempts for 94 yards and a score.
Incredible. That’s the stuff legends are made of. It pleases me to hear that he is still turning heads on the field for the XFL in 2023.
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