Hawaii vs. Fresno State: Keys To A Warriors Victory
Can Hawaii upset a ranked team
Late night football
WEEK 5: #18 Fresno State Bulldogs (4-1, 1-0 Mountain West) vs. Hawaii Warriors (2-3, 0-1 Mountain West)
WHEN: Saturday, October 2 — 8:00 PM PT/9:00 PM MT/5:00 PM HT
WHERE: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, CA
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAMING: Fans can sign up to receive a free one-week trial of Fubo, which includes CBSSN, by following this link.
RADIO: The Fresno State broadcast can be found on in and around Fresno on Fox Sports 1340 AM, as well as on the affiliates of the Bulldog Radio Network around the San Joaquin Valley. The Hawaii broadcast can be found on ESPN Honolulu, 1420 AM and 92.7 FM.
SERIES RECORD: Fresno State leads the all-time series, 29-23-1. In the last meeting on October 24, 2020, the Warriors defeated the Bulldogs, 34-19, in Fresno.
LAST WEEK: Fresno State defeated UNLV at home, 38-30, while Hawaii beat New Mexico State on the road, 41-21.
ODDS (as of 9/29, via Vegas Insider): Fresno State -10.5
SP+ PROJECTION: Fresno State by 8.9
FEI PROJECTION: Fresno State by 7.8
It is rivalry week here in Honolulu! The 18th ranked Fresno State Bulldogs roll into town with a 4-1 record. The game is scheduled to kick-off at 5 p.m Hawaii time and is televised on CBS Sports Network. Fans and even some politicians have pleaded with Governor Ige to allow vaccinated family members of the players into the game but as of Wednesday night, the answer is still no. A rivalry isn’t the same without a rowdy home crowd, homecoming is not the same without the student section, and a football game is not the same with pumped-in artificial crowd noise.
We’re seeing tourists in the islands enjoy Luau’s at the hotels with minimal restrictions, stadiums across the country packed with 100,000 non-masked fans, while the 9,000 seat T.C. Ching Field remains completely empty. If there were any games on the schedule where we would need as much help from a home crowd that we could get, this would be the one. Somehow, we as fans need to channel that frustration into good vibes for this team.
Bend but don’t break and be opportunistic
The Hawaii Defense has their hands full this week. The Fresno State offense has three of the best players in the conference. Quarterback Jake Haener is not the same QB that Hawaii was able to contain in last season’s opening game. There is a different poise and maturity to his game now. Earlier this season against UCLA he displayed that poise as well as toughness as he led the Bulldogs to a 40-37 upset win at the Rose Bowl.
His number one target, Jalen Cropper is off to a hot start. Through five games Cropper has 455 yards receiving and a nation leading eight touchdowns. If the Haener/Cropper connection wasn’t enough to worry about, the Bows will also have to deal with running back Ronnie Rivers who seems to have been playing for the Bulldogs the last decade. Against UCLA he had 25 touches for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is dangerous between the tackles as well as as a receiver out of the backfield. That being said, the Fresno State offense will find ways to move the ball this week. It will be up to the UH defense to toughen up in the red zone.
Last week, NMSU found success moving the ball on the Warriors, but Hawaii was able to make crucial red zone stops and force field goals. They will need to do the same this week. Part of the success that the Warriors had against the Bulldogs in their last match up is they intercepted Haener three times. The Warriors will need to create pressure and force Haener to throw early and into coverage and that’s where being opportunistic comes into play.
They’ll need Cameron Lockridge to ride the momentum of an interception and two fumble recoveries that he had last week into this week’s game. Cortez Davis, Hawaii’s best cover man will most likely draw the match up with Cropper and it will be his biggest test since shutting down a red hot Romeo Doubs in last season’s Nevada game. Fresno State will spread it out so we should see a lot of Quentin Frazier who broke out in last season’s match up. UH will need another big game out of him.
Sustain Drives and Let Chevan Go!
The Hawaii offense will need to sustain drives early and often. They need to keep Haener and the high scoring Bulldogs offense off the field as much as possible and not let them get into a rhythm. By sustaining drives, they will also help to keep the Warriors defense fresh. We’ve seen too many times where the offense goes three and out for the entire first quarter and the defense is worn out by halftime. That cannot happen this week.
In last season’s game, Chevan Cordeiro led the team with 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. It’s not pretty and not ideal for your Quarterback to be the leading rusher, but right now our offense isn’t pretty and we need to do whatever works to move the sticks and put points on the board. Cordeiro sitting in the pocket waiting for someone to get open has not been successful at times this season so if that is not working, I’d like to see them incorporate him in the run game or just get him out on the perimeter so he has the option to tuck it and go if no one is open.
Nick Mardner was named to the Biletnikoff award watch list and the Warriors need him to continue to come up big in the passing game. He has established himself as the number one receiver and this week the Warriors need him to play like one. He needs to be targeted 8-10 times a game because he has the ability to make big plays with his unique combination of size and speed.
The Warriors face a tall task on Saturday night, but this is a rivalry game and I expect them to come ready to play. Let’s go Bows!