In his first game as the starting quarterback for Hawaii football, Cole McDonald is the current front-runner for the 2018 Heisman Trophy race.
Okay, okay. Yes, it is Week 0. And Cole McDonald has only faced a mediocre Colorado State defense. However, the offensive performance we just saw out of the sophomore was quite impressive. Hawaii put up 43 points in a win against Colorado State in a Week 0 game that went down to the wire. Despite having an extremely young offensive line, who were responsible for multiple false start penalties, McDonald kept the ball moving downfield for the entire game.
In his first college start, McDonald passed for 418 yards with a 70 percent completion rate and three touchdowns. These numbers are fairly good, yes. But, he also showcased his incredible mobility outside of the pocket. McDonald led Hawaii in rushing with 96 yards on 13 carries, including two touchdowns.
More importantly, McDonald had zero turnovers. The poise McDonald demonstrated, in addition to great decision-making, gets him on the radar for Heisman trophy consideration.
Where he came from
Cole McDonald came to Hawaii as a three-star recruit out of Sonora High School in southern California. In addition to playing football, McDonald also ran the 100-meter and 200-meter dash for his high school’s track team. This track background explains McDonald’s ability to get outside the tackles and gain significant yardage on broken plays.
In 2017, McDonald was the second string quarterback for the entire year behind Dru Brown. And despite only seeing the field in six games, McDonald still found himself as the team’s third-leading rusher.
This fall, Cole McDonald was in a battle for the starting position with freshman Chevan Cordeiro. It is clear coach Nick Rolovich made the right decision to go with McDonald as the starter. With a strong arm, good accuracy, and blazing speed, McDonald was the obvious choice.
Where he’s going
McDonald looked a lot like Lamar Jackson circa 2016. Furthermore, Hawaii is extremely underrated and disregarded by many, which will actually improve Cole McDonald’s stock. If Hawaii can win a few more big games and compete in the Mountain West conference, credit will be given to the quarterback helping them get there.
The Rainbow Warriors face the Navy Midshipmen next Saturday. Navy defense will be a big step up from Colorado State, yet still nothing Cole McDonald can’t handle. If he puts up the same kind of numbers next week as he did against Colorado State, look for McDonald to start getting serious national attention.