Fresno St.-Hawaii Preview
Fresno State's last visit to Hawaii featured plenty of sight-seeing and relaxation as the team enjoyed its trip before last season's Hawaii Bowl.
The subsequent blowout loss still doesn't sit well with coach Tim DeRuyter, who plans to make clear to the 25th-ranked Bulldogs that there won't be any time spent on the beach prior to Saturday night's contest with the Warriors.
Fresno State entered the Dec. 24 bowl matchup with SMU on a five-game winning streak but fell 43-10. DeRuyter is taking precautions so the Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 Mountain West) avoid another letdown in Hawaii as they seek their first 4-0 start since winning six straight to open the 2001 season.
"Regardless of the opponent, it's how we play and how we prepare and how we execute," DeRuyter said. "We're going to instill in our players that this isn't a pleasure trip, this is a business trip. It's going to be just like going out to camp and being focused on one game."
Fresno entered the AP poll for the first time since 2008 after last Friday's 41-40 victory over Boise State. Quarterback Derek Carr led a 13-play, 87-yard drive that culminated with Josh Quezada's 1-yard touchdown run with 2:14 remaining.
Carr finished 39 of 60 for 460 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 12 TD passes - tied for sixth in the FBS - against only one interception. His 1,121 passing yards rank ninth in the country and his 68.9 completion percentage ranks 15th.
Sophomore Davante Adams, whose 31 receptions are tied for fifth-most in the nation, has caught four of Carr's touchdown throws, and his streak of 11 consecutive games with a TD reception is a school and Mountain West record.
Adams made 12 catches for 110 yards last week, Isaiah Burse had 10 for 148 and Josh Harper had two touchdown receptions, but DeRuyter wasn't pleased with the Bulldogs' eight drops.
"We've got guys who can catch the football, they've demonstrated it," DeRuyter said. "We just have to be more consistent with that, and it's going to be a big-time point of emphasis this week."
If his receivers can hold on to the ball, Carr shouldn't have a tough time racking up yards against a Hawaii defense that is giving up an average of 275.0 yards through the air, ranking 102nd in the nation.
Fresno State is 1-4 under DeRuyter when scoring fewer than 30 points but 11-0 when scoring at least 30, including a 45-10 win over the Warriors on Nov. 3. Carr played only the first half and finished 15 of 23 for 304 yards and four touchdowns, including a 45-yard TD pass to Adams.
Hawaii (0-3, 0-1) is allowing 31.3 points per game and coming off a 31-9 loss to Nevada last Saturday. Coach Norm Chow's team committed six turnovers and has 11 on the season, tied for fifth-most in the country.
Four Warriors quarterbacks threw a total of four interceptions last week, as starter Taylor Graham completed 9 of 15 passes for 77 yards before going down with a shoulder injury in the first half.
Graham's status for this contest is unclear, but DeRuyter said his team is preparing as if the Ohio State transfer will play. The Bulldogs are allowing 317.7 yards passing per game, tied for the fourth-worst average in the nation.
"Hawaii wants to get their season right by going back home where they play particularly well," DeRuyter said. "They'd like nothing better than knocking off a team that's 1-0 in the conference."
Carr is 34 of 52 for 575 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions in two career starts against Hawaii, both victories.