A pair of true freshman quarterbacks from Texas square off when Memphis meets Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Friday night in Honolulu.
It is the first-ever meeting between the Tigers (6-6) and Rainbow Warriors (6-7), but it’s the second meeting this calendar year between signal-callers Seth Henigan of Memphis and Brayden Schager of Hawaii.
On Jan. 1, 2021, Henigan directed Denton Ryan High School to a 17-7 win against Schager’s Highland Park squad in the Texas Class 5A playoffs and went on to win a state championship.
“I think it’s really cool,” Henigan said via Zoom. “Two true freshman quarterbacks from Texas just putting on for the state. That would be really exciting for both of us.”
Henigan broke the Memphis freshman record with 3,322 passing yards and is 13th in the nation in total offense with 315.4 yards per game. He has thrown 25 touchdown passes and eight interceptions but will be without top receiver Calvin Austin III (74 catches for 1,149 yards and eight TDs). Austin opted out to prepare for the NFL draft.
Schager has played in six games (three starts) this season, completing 60.7 percent of his passes for 615 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions. He gets the nod Friday because Hawaii’s leading passer, Chevan Cordeiro (2,793 yards, 17 touchdowns), announced he was entering the transfer portal on Dec. 1.
“It’s his football team now,” Hawaii coach Todd Graham said. “I think he’s excited about that … and I’m excited for him. This is his opportunity that he’s been waiting for and what he came here to do.”
Memphis finished 3-5 in the American Athletic Conference, gaining bowl eligibility with a 33-28 win against Tulane in its Nov. 27 regular season finale. Three of its losses were by three or fewer points.
The Tigers are playing in their eighth straight bowl game and 15th overall (5-9 record). It’s their first appearance in the Hawaii Bowl.
Second-year Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield was an offensive analyst on Graham’s coaching staff at Arizona State during the 2015 season.
Tigers defensive backs coach Charles Clark was named the interim defensive coordinator earlier this month after Mike MacIntyre left to become the Florida International head coach.
Hawaii finished 3-5 in the Mountain West Conference, achieving bowl eligibility the same day as Memphis with a 38-14 win at Wyoming. Five of its losses were by 14 or more points.
The Warriors are also appearing in their 15th bowl game (8-6 record). It’s their 10th time in the Hawaii Bowl (5-4 record).
–Field Level Media