When: Saturday, Sept. 28, 11:59 p.m. ET
Where: Aloha Stadium, Halawa (Honolulu), Hawaii
TV: KSEE (Fresno) Oceanic Pay-Per-View (Hawaii), Mountain West Network
Radio: 940 AM ESPN Radio; ESPN 1420 AM/Fresno State 2013 record: 3-0-0, 1-0 in MWC
All Time Series Record: Fresno State leads 23-21-1
Last Meeting: Nov. 3rd 2012 in Fresno. Fresno won 45-10
Coaches: Fresno State - Tim DeRuyter (12-4). This season is DeRuyter's second year as head coach of Fresno State. Hawaii - Norm Chow (3-11). This is Chows second year at the controls of Hawaii.
Things are going to get even tougher this week when Fresno State come to Honolulu to take on the Rainbow Warriors. So far in 2013, Hawaii are yet to be victorious with losses at the hands of USC, Oregon State and Nevada. It's been much different for Fresno State, as they haven't tasted defeat. The Bulldogs sit at 3-0 having beaten Rutgers, Cal Poly and Boise State. Fresno State is currently an 18.5-point favorite over Hawaii.
There is a bit of a waiting game going on at Hawaii right now. Taylor Graham suffered an injury to his non-throwing-arm shoulder against Nevada, but he is not ruled out and is day-to-day. Graham was 9 of 15 for 77 yards last week. Norm Chow has said that if he is not good to go, then it's between Sean Schroeder and Ikaika Woolsey to get the start under center.
The offense gave up six turnovers in the Nevada game and this needs to improve if the Warriors stand any chance here. The line looked porous and whoever gets the start on Saturday will need the line to do a better job to allow a little more time in the pocket. Both Schroeder and Woolsey threw two interceptions when they deputized for Graham; that's got to change. Believe it or not, the Warriors actually out gained Nevada in total yards (376), first downs (20) and time of possession last week. It just goes to prove that if you don't look after the ball, it all counts for nothing.
The situation at quarterback for Hawaii maybe up in the air but there are no such problems facing Fresno. The Bulldogs this week launched a Heisman trophy campaign for Derek Carr after his impressive start to the season. Through three games, Carr has thrown for 1,121 yards, 12 TD's and only one interception. He has more yards at this point in the season than previous Heisman winners Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, Sam Bradford and even Tim Tebow. Carr is now only nine TD passes behind Fresno's all-time leader, Paul Pinegar. The offensive line has been good in pass blocking, Carr has only been sacked twice all season and for a loss of just six yards.
There isn't much to judge the Bulldog running game off this year. Fresno has gained 305 yards on the ground for an average of 3.5 yards per attempt. Josh Quezada has been the leader with 135 yards and two TD's. When you have a quarterback like Carr at your disposal, then I guess your running game only has to pay compliment to your aerial attack. Sophomore Marteze Waller is the primary back up to Quezada with contributions coming from T.J. Thomas and even Carr himself.
Joey Iosefa returned to the line up against Nevada but any optimism was shortlived. Iosefa had just two attempts for a grand total of four yards before he succumb to injury. Iosefa will miss the next four weeks after undergoing surgery to stabilise a foot injury. Diocemy Saint Juste was named the starter last week and he was very impressive with 82 yards from 12 attempts. Lakalaka also had a decent game with 42 yards from nine attempts.
Billy Ray Stutzmann was rumoured to feature last time out but never saw the field . He could get some action this time, being another week along in his recovery. The Warriors suffered another considerable loss when starting tight end Harold Moleni suffered a concussion. He should be in the frame to play come Saturday. Vasquez Haynes led Hawaii in receptions and yards against Nevada with four receptions and 43 yards. Starter Chris Gant hauled in a TD and there were contributions from 10 different receivers. A strength of this group continues to be the number of players that are capable of making plays.
Our own Matthew K. describes Fresno as a team that are willing to pass first, second and third. This is made possible because of the wealth of talent they have at the receiver position. At Bulldog Stadium vs. Boise, both Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse had double-digit receptions and over 100 yards. Adams also pulled in a TD in the third quarter. Whilst Josh Harper had only three receptions, he did have 36 yards and two TDs. Harper and Adams now have four TDs each on the season with Burse having over 300 yards. It's a loaded unit with tight end Marcel Jensen, receiver Greg Watson and running back Josh Quezada also having over 100 yards receiving on the season. Of course, a lot of the stats are thanks to Carr, but someone has to catch the balls.
The 340 yards of total offense that the Hawaii defense gave up last week was the lowest of the season. Progress? We'll see, but it's a step in the right direction. Impressively, the defense leads all MWC defenses against the rush and rank 42nd nationally. There are a few injury concerns on the defensive line for the Warriors, too. Defensive ends Beau Yap and Iuta Tepa suffered concussions and their availability for the game hangs in the balance right now. Yap has started every game this far and has one sack. Tepa made his first start last week. On the opposite side Tavita Woodard has only started one game so far. Defensive tackle Siasau Matagiese leads all linemen at Hawaii with 14 tackles. The biggest loss for Hawaii is at linebacker with the loss of Julian Gener. Gener stepped up against OSU and played well last week. He is the third leading tackler on the team, but is now lost for the year with a season-ending elbow injury. Luckily, he is able to meet the criteria for a medical red-shirt.
Andy Jennings is the leader of the defensive line for Fresno, statistically speaking. He has 12 total tackles and half a sack. Tyeler Davison, a junior nose tackle also has a sack. Junior linebacker Karl Mickelsen is starting to emerge as a defensive leader. This is his first year as a starter and he is becoming a real play maker. He has 30 tackles this year (8 more than any other player at Fresno) with a career high 16 against Boise State. Mickelsen also broke up a pass and forced a fumble. Ejiro Ederaine is a sophomore outside linebacker who is not currently a starter but starred in the win against the Broncos. He finished the game with five tackles and two sacks. Kyrie Wilson is an inside linebacker who has 18 tackles this year and 1.5 sacks (2nd best on the team). The line-backing unit is pretty stacked.
The Bulldogs conceded 361 passing yards against Boise, as well as one TD. Derron Smith did manage one pick. The defensive backfield as a whole seems to be pretty solid. They conceded roughly the same amount of yards through the air against Boise as they did in the opener vs Rutgers. Whilst not spectacular, the unit as a whole is reliable. Last season, Fresno State ranked fifth nationally with 35 takeaways and was third in the FBS with 22 interceptions. This year, Fresno State has recovered one fumble in all three games and has the two interceptions from Derron Smith. L.J. Jones has been the top tackler in the backfield with a total of 22 on the year.
Hawaii gave up 202 receiving yards against Nevada, not a bad stat considering the loss. The 10.1 yard average per reception is what has really got to change. There's no good in limiting the opponent's offense and then giving up a first down every time you need a stop. It would be ideal if someone like Ne'Quan Phillips can grab an interception as well. There is going to be plenty of opportunities to create a turnover in the backfield with the amount of times Carr will throw the ball. Free safety Marrell Jackson is the only player in the team that has an interception so far this year not that Gener is out.
Last week's big loss for Hawaii, coupled with Fresno's epic win over Boise, means there is little hope for the Warriors in this one. It really would be a shock if they can hang with Fresno into the second half. If Graham doesn't make it, then there is no chance of a close matchup here. With him they could be a threat early on (they scored with their first drive last week) and keep things interesting. Look for Fresno to cover the spread and remain perfect.