After seemingly solving their road woes in their come-from-behind win against New Mexico last Saturday, the ’Dogs will go to work again at home against Hawaii.
The Warriors visit their rival in Fresno State as a whole new offensive team in their 45th meeting all-time.
“We’re going against a coach in Norm Chow, who is legendary in his offensive schemes. And we know we’ll have our hands full again this week,” head coach Tim DeRuyter said.
The Bulldogs’ defensive scheme could be challenged by Hawaii’s pro-style offense. Fresno State has seen this scheme before. The ’Dogs also used it as recently as last season.
Fresno State appears poised to continue its winning streak against Hawaii. The Bulldogs defeated the Warriors 24-21 in Aloha Stadium last season.
The Warriors, who are led by first year coach Norm Chow, have plummeted to the bottom of the Mountain West Conference this season. After posting an even record of 6-6, Hawaii has seen its share of lows this season.
Coach Chow and his squad come into Saturday’s matchup on a five-game losing streak. With crushing defeats of 30 points or more in six of its seven losses, Hawaii could potentially be an easy victory for the ’Dogs.
However, DeRuyter and the Bulldogs are not underestimating the Warriors. Although Fresno State is undefeated at home this year, Hawaii could prove a difficult task as it always is for the ’Dogs.
“We’re just going to work hard this week during practice and just go out there and do the best we can. And leave the rest up to God,” quarterback Derek Carr said.
In the past four games of the rivalry between Fresno State and the Warriors, the road team has won each contest. Even though the Bulldogs lead the series, their margin is slim. Holding a 22-21-1 edge over Hawaii, the ’Dogs will try this Saturday to break the current trend of the road team winning.
The Bulldogs feel confident at home this season, where they have been dominant. Averaging 50 points per game and defeating their opponents by an average margin of 30.5, the Bulldogs will look to feed off the energy of the crowd.
“Our guys like to play football. Anytime we get an opportunity to play in Bulldog Stadium and in front of the Red Wave, our guys have fun playing football,” DeRuyter said.
“When you have a team that has been going as fast as we have been going, it’s pretty hard to stop,” wide receiver Davante Adams added.
Not only the offense has been excellent, but the defense and special teams, as well. In the game against Wyoming on Oct. 27, Fresno State was able to score in several ways, including on a 78-yard punt return by wide receiver Rashad Evans.
The ’Dogs’ defense was equally impressive, stopping Wyoming on 15 of its 17 third downs. In addition, Fresno State’s defense held the Cowboys to only 83 total rushing yards.
The Bulldogs will look to do more of the same against Hawaii by holding the Warriors’ rushing game in check and forcing them in to third and long. This should create opportunities for Fresno State’s secondary to exploit Hawaii’s nationally ranked 106th passing attack.
“We got to stop the run game. Everything for us comes through that and we got to make them throw the ball on our terms, which means they’re not able to run the ball,” defensive coordinator Nick Toth said.
“If you can get teams into third and six plus, it’s not real manageable. We can dial up some pressures to make it tough on an offense,” DeRuyter added.
Nose guard Tyeler Davison could have another strong game, as he will look to put pressure on Warriors’ running back Will Gregory.
“Tyeler is having a great year. He’s prepared from last spring through the summer time, and he’s focused every day,” Toth said.
“He’s had a solid season for us. He’s really been a stout figure inside, and he really helps our run defense,” DeRuyter added.
Stopping Hawaii’s rushing attack will be critical to the ’Dogs success and should force Hawaii into more passing situations that should benefit Fresno State’s defense.
“This week, we got to play solid on first and second down. If we can get them into third down and long, I like our chances on defense,” DeRuyter said.
If all these elements combine for the Bulldogs, they should be able to grab an easy win come Saturday. Fresno State should defeat Hawaii handily if history (on the side of the visiting team) doesn’t decide to repeat itself.