No. 25 Fresno State focused on focusing in Hawaii
Fresno State is planning for less aloha and more focus on this trip to Hawaii.
The No. 25 Bulldogs are looking to avoid a repeat of a lopsided 45-10 loss in the Hawaii Bowl in December. Fortunately for Fresno State (3-0, 1-0 Mountain West), that game was against SMU rather than Hawaii.
But Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter says his team is approaching its Aloha State visit very differently than last time.
''This isn't a pleasure trip, this is a business trip,'' DeRuyter said. ''We're staying out of Waikiki Beach.''
Fresno State has won its last two games on the road against Hawaii (0-3, 0-1) and three of its last four. But DeRuyter said the opponent isn't the most important factor in his team's approach.
''In my mind, it's about how we play and how we prepare and how we go and execute,'' DeRuyter said. ''Last year, we clearly didn't do a very good job of that and I didn't do a good job of coaching (in the bowl game).''
Here are five things to watch for when Fresno State visits Hawaii:
1. SHOWCASING CARR: Fresno State is pushing for more than just a win against the Rainbow Warriors on Saturday - it's a campaign stop for quarterback Derek Carr toward a Heisman trophy. The school's athletics department has formally launched a campaign website for Carr - DC4Heisman.com - to highlight his stats, bio and any buzz he gets.
His early-season numbers are a good indicator that the Bulldogs plan to pass, pass and pass against Hawaii.
Carr has 12 touchdowns and one interception through three games to go along with more than 1,100 yards passing.
He threw 60 times against Boise State and 73 times against Rutgers in the season opener.
2. ROAD DEFENSE: Fresno State is playing on the road for the first time this season after a game against Colorado was postponed because of flooding. The game won't be made up and Colorado has been at other possible opponents.
The canceled game means the Bulldogs are playing away from home for the first time this year, trying to keep alive a 16-game streak with at least one turnover.
Fresno State has five turnovers the past three games, including three fumble recoveries and two interceptions, both by safety Derron Smith, the conference's preseason defensive player of the year.
''That constant cat and mouse game is what we try to get to, and for the most part, we're doing a better job of doing that and creating some problems for quarterbacks,'' DeRuyter said.
3. DROPS: It's tough to see how DeRuyter can nitpick a passing attack that has generated four times as many touchdowns and nearly four times as many yards as its rushing, but when DeRuyter was asked this week about something his team could improve on, he mentioned drops.
The Bulldogs had eight drops against Boise State in their last game, he said.
''That's ridiculous,'' DeRuyter said.
4. POLL REACTION: At No. 25, Fresno State entered the Associated Press poll for the first time since 2008. It's the only undefeated team left in the Mountain West.
5. HAWAII QUARTERBACK QUESTIONS: It's not fully clear whether Hawaii quarterback Taylor Graham will be able to play after hurting a shoulder in his team's game against Nevada last week. Graham has struggled with being sacked and on offense in general early this year, completing less than half his passes, with two touchdowns compared with four interceptions.
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia