Hawaii Boise St Football

Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich gestures during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Boise State, Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Boise, Idaho. Boise State won 59-37. (AP Photo/Steve Conner)

Kade Waguespack knows any hope of beach time this week are unrealistic.

Air Force travels to Hawaii, leaving Thursday for the Saturday night game against the Rainbow Warriors, but the senior tight end has heard from past trips not to expect full immersion into paradise.

“I heard our hotel is on the beach,” the Louisiana native said.

“I guess you could say we’ll be on the beach, but I doubt our feet will be touching the sand.

“But the view will be nice, that’s for sure.”

In recent years, Air Force (4-2, 2-1 Mountain West) has allowed players to venture out as a team to catch movies in trips to Boise, San Diego and at Navy. Beyond that, most time is limited to the hotel. That figures to be the case this week, even in the unique setting provided by Oahu.

“I’ve been a part of teams that have handled it really poorly, and I’ve been a part of teams that handled it really, really well,” said coach Troy Calhoun, who has traveled for games in Aloha Stadium as a player and assistant coach at Air Force, as an assistant at Ohio University and in 2015 as the head coach at Air Force. “As good as they are, you have to handle it well. Especially this year. They have that good of a football team.”

Even without catching the local tourist traps, Air Force figures to soak in two of the staples of football on the islands.

Much as games for visitors at Falcon Stadium are notable for the elevation and triple-option offense, games at Hawaii have traditionally brought sticky, warm weather and a look at a complex run-and-shoot offense.

Well, the forecast calls for a high of 86 degrees with 65 percent humidity on game day. And Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald leads the Mountain West in nine passing categories. Among them are passing yards per game (313.3), passing efficiency (155.8) and passing touchdowns (20).

McDonald has continued a legacy at the position shared by the likes of Timmy Chang, Colt Brennan and Bryant Moniz. The trio of Chang, Brennan and Moniz combined for seven 4,000-yard seasons through the air.

“There’s just a lot of weight to it – high expectations,” McDonald said. “Hawaii’s just a unique place in the caliber of play that they hold in Hawaii. Even their kids, Pop Warner, high school — football’s a whole different world out there. They show it and they wear it on their sleeve. They’re not afraid to say it to your face.”

Coach Nick Rolovich, also a former Hawaii quarterback, brought back the run-and-shoot in 2018 after the program had strayed from it since 2011.

It is now back to running a variety of the offense that was installed under June Jones in 1999 and led the highest scoring offense in the country in 2006 and ’07.

Rolovich’s favorite part of the offense is that the number of options within plays allows quarterbacks to tailor the scheme to their own style and preference.

“There’s a freedom to a point within the run-and-shoot that allows a guy to excel in his own way — allows them to do more of what they like off of it than a real robotic offense,” Rolovich said.

So, that’s the environment Air Force will be stepping into on Saturday. It’s almost enough to put a damper on the excitement.

Almost.

“I’ve never been to Hawaii,” defensive back Grant Theil said. “I think it’s cool, but we’re not going there for a vacation. We’re going to there to play a game. We’re looking forward to it, but not hyping up the trip more than it needs to be.”

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