Fresno State defeated Hawaii on the road last season 42-17. This year, the 3-2 Warriors return to Fresno with a more experienced quarterback, and a high-powered offense. Bulldog head coach Pat Hill discussed what challenges Hawaii presents on Saturday.
“Well I think the quarterback is a lot more mature and a lot more set in the offense,” said Hill. “He’s making good decisions with the football. That was his first start last year…he’s a lot different player now than he was. I think they’re a good offensive football team, they can move the ball, they’ll get yards…you got to eliminate the big plays.”
Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz has thrown for 1,869 yards with 15 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions through five games. The Hawaii offense features two receivers who have topped the 600-yard receiving mark this season in Kealoha Pilares and Greg Salas.
Last week, the Bulldogs prepared for Cal Poly’s triple option attack. This week, however, the defense had to prepare for Hawaii’s pass first offense. Hill talked about the challenge of preparing for such different offensive schemes.
“It’s just something you got to do. There’s nothing similar about the last two teams.”
The scout team has done well in preparing the defense for Hawaii’s passing attack, however. Derek Carr and the redshirting freshman receivers were able to emulate the scheme for the first team defense. Coach Hill praised the scout team this week.
“I thought they did a good job again this week,” said Hill. “A lot of the routes are pretty similar to ours, but there’s a lot of options that come off it; that’s their base offense. I thought our young guys did a pretty good job. Protection had a hard time holding up most of the week, but we gave them some good pictures…it won’t be as fast as the game’s going to be, but it’s pretty close.
“Our scout teams are doing a better job of showing the offenses that we havn’t been able to really show…but we have a lot of bodies now to do it – at the right positions.”
The ‘Dogs have struggled with injuries so far this season. Sophomore wide receiver Rashad Evans is set to return, but another receiver went down with injury this week.
“[Jevon] Stallworth hurt his foot in practice on Tuesday is out…Rashad Evans should work back into the rotation,” added Hill. “A decision on Jamel Hamler has not been made yet going into Saturday’s game. I don’t know how much playing time Hamler is going to get, that’s still up in the air…he’s not going to play if he’s not 100%... If we get him it will be a plus.”
A.J. Ellis is still out at running back. Hill plans to use all three active backs Saturday. “They’re all going to play. We’ll probably start Robbie Rouse.”
Continuing Hawaii Series
As Fresno State plans to join the Mountain West Conference within the next two years, this could potentially be the last game of the Fresno State-Hawaii rivalry. Coach Hill commented on the situation.
“I don’t think it will be the last game. I think Hawaii and Fresno will continue to play somehow, someway. It’s too good of a series. I think both teams really enjoy it. It’s a crowd pleaser in Fresno and Hawaii. It’s a good game and hopefully it will continue.”
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