Friday, October 13, 2006
June Jones: Motivational Extraordinaire
Today I wanted to write about how the rivalry between Hawaii and Fresno State sat at an all time high. I wanted to write about how June Jones helped fuel the fire this week with his comments about how he was happy the Bulldogs lost and maybe our fans would throw screwdrivers at our own players instead of his. However, when I read the Fresno Bee today it seemed that Matt James was thinking of writing the same exact article. Regardless I feel like I have a much different take on the Hawaii-Fresno State rivalry that has become one of the best that the WAC has to offer. So many people want to point to Fresno State-Boise State or Fresno State-San Jose State as our great rivals but when you look back at the team the Bulldogs seem to hate the most I believe it is Hawaii. Honestly would screwdriver comments such as the ones Jones made even matter if another coach made them? Would comments such as those even fire up Fresno State if they were made by La. Tech or Nevada? I do not believe the Bulldogs get up for playing any team like they do when the Rainbows come to town. If this was not evident the last time Hawaii came to Fresno (2004, Fresno State 70 Hawaii 14) then I don't know if it ever will be.
Over the past five years the Hawaii-Fresno State series has been owned by one team or the other. The series has not alternated with respect to wins for a while now. Hawaii had a streak of three wins in a row from 2001-2003. In 2001 the Rainbows and Ashley Leilei beat the David Carr led Bulldogs 38-34 as they scored with less than 30 seconds left to win. In 2002 Timmy Chang led a courageous comeback in the fourth quarter at Bulldog stadium to defeat Fresno State. In 2003 the Rainbows welcomed the Bulldogs to the island and promptly blew them out of the water (Many of you might remember this game because KFRE screwed up on the telecast and it went blank for half of the game). 2004 would be a year of revenge for Fresno State as the Bulldogs racked up over 500 first half yards en route to one of their biggest wins over Hawaii. In 2005 the Dogs went to the island and walked away with only their second win in the history between these two teams on the island. Wendell Mathis led the way with over 200 yards rushing as the Dogs defeated Hawaii 27-13. What does this all mean with respect to 2006? Well one thing is for sure: these two teams will put it all on the line tomorrow at Bulldog stadium. I realize Fresno State is slumping right now but what better way to break out of a slump than to be your most hated rival? Truthfully I believe if the Bulldogs offense can find a way to get going then these teams are actually pretty even. Hawaii has the more explosive offense but that is usually the case regardless of who they play. From watching their game against Nevada I did see many holes in the Hawaii team that I did not realize were there before. First and foremost Nevada brought extra men on almost every play to hurry Brennan and in the second half this worked well. Hawaii drove up and down the field at will in the first half as they led by ten 31-21. In the second half Nevada limited Hawaii to ten points and forced two turnovers. The problem was Nevada turned the ball over often in the game as well. If the Bulldogs can somehow manage to get pressure on Brennan (which looked relatively easy to do when Nevada tried) this game is going to be much closer than many Bulldog fans think. Because Hawaii runs the spread offense the QB does tend to deal with much more pressure due to the lack of blocking kept back to help him out. But what does this all mean with respect to the rivalry between the Dogs and Bows?
In the end this all should amount to a very competitive and close game between the Dogs and Bows. The comments Jones made will only help the situation for the Dogs as it will more than likely be used for motivation in the locker room. I don't believe the Dogs will need any motivation to get up for this game. They want a win badly and know they need this. They are playing their most hated rival and there is a very good chance we will see rotating QB's in the game until one of the two steps up and leads this team. Hawaii is still bad on defense because they are on the field so much. Fresno's control offense should have a chance to score more points this weekend than they have all season, but will they? We need the kicking game to click and we need the passing game to flourish. No more running the ball 65% of the time on first and second down. Hawaii's pass defense was exploited by Rowe and the same will happen if our QB's can get into the flow of the game. Look for this to be a close hard fought battle with the winner taking the game in the fourth quarter. Right now I am not to sure who will win but because Hawaii is so explosive I will go with them for now.
Hawaii 35 Fresno State 31