By OSKAR GARCIA
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 QB 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.
No. 25 Fresno State (3-0, 1-0 Mountain West) at Hawaii (0-3, 0-1), 6 pm. HST today, Oceanic pay-per-view (Ch. 255) (Local TV only)
Line: Fresno State 18 1/2.
Series record: Fresno State leads 23-21-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Fresno State is looking to keep rolling in the Mountain West against winless Hawaii as the Bulldogs enter Top 25 for the first time since 2008. Hawaii is hoping to turn around its season with a statement win after road losses at Oregon State and Nevada.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr versus Hawaii’s defense. The Bulldogs have launched a campaign to push Carr toward a Heisman trophy, which means he needs to put up significant stats against the heavy underdog. Carr has more than 1,100 yards through three games, while Hawaii is tied for 25th nationally with eight sacks.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• Fresno State: Carr. He has 12 touchdown passes and one interception in three games, and completed more passes against Rutgers (52) than any quarterback in any game this year. He ranks third in the country with 373.7 yards per game.
• Hawaii: QB Taylor Graham. Graham is uncertain to play after being hurt in last week’s Nevada game. He has completed less than half his passes and has two touchdowns compared with four interceptions. His backup is Sean Schroeder, who started 11 of 12 games for the Rainbow Warriors last year.
FACTS & FIGURES
Fresno State has a losing record against the Rainbow Warriors in Hawaii at 10-14. … The Bulldogs have not started 4-0 in a season since 2001. The last time they went 3-0 to start a season was in 2004. … Fresno State wide receiver Davante Adams has a streak of 11 straight games with a touchdown — the longest such streak in the country. … Rushing and receiving threat Isaiah Bruce needs 820 yards to set a Fresno State record in all-purpose yardage. He is the third Bulldog to top 5,000 all-purpose career yards. … Hawaii is the only team in the country with four players who have returned a kickoff or punt for a touchdown: Kamalani Alo, Scott Harding, John Hardy-Tuliau and Ne’Quan Phillips.