Tomorrow night Fresno State will begin another compelling match up
with the Warriors of Hawaii. At first glance this game looks to be a
mismatch as Fresno State does not generally implore the type of
defense that can stop Hawaii. The Dogs tend to play a soft defense
that allows the five to seven yard route. Fresno State relies on it's
LB's and secondary to make tackles as soon as the ball is caught
(something they have not done too well this season). There is a way
to beat the Warriors and it was on display last season when the Oregon
State Beavers traveled to the island. True, Oregon State was quite
hot and had defeated a very talented USC team only weeks before, but
they ran the type of defense it took to stop the Warriors amazing
offense. While I can write down the steps to stopping Hawaii's run
and shoot offense it does not mean that they will necessarily work.
College football is a game of sixty minutes and Hawaii can adjust to
what a defense is doing as well as any other offense in the nation.
However, these are the steps I deem
necessary to knock off the Warriors on the island. I am sure you will
notice this is written like a recipe and rightfully so since
directions need to be followed in order to beat Hawaii.
1) Add a little pressure to Colt Brennan's passing attack- Oregon
State sacked Colt Brennan six times last season and forced him to
throw two int's. While Brennan still managed over 400 yards passing
the Warriors lost because Oregon State forced Brennan to throw the
ball much earlier than he anticipated. Brennan does not make many
mistakes and when he does defenses must take advantage of them.
Fresno State will have to find a way to pressure Brennan on every play
or he will sit back in the pocket and do whatever he pleases. If you
want proof of how good Brennan is when he has time to throw watch the
highlights of the 2006 Fresno State-Hawaii game. That game should be
used as an example of what not to do when playing Hawaii.
2) Mix in physical play from the corner position - Hawaii loves the
underneath routes. This team uses five to seven yard routes to create
thirty yard gains. Grice-Mullin, Bess, Rivers, and Hawthorne (yes
they have four accomplished receivers) are all capable of turning a
small route into a large gain. If the Dogs do not get up close to the
line and knock these receivers off their routes right from the start
it will be a long day for the defense in Hawaii. True Hawaii is a
place where vacations are wonderful, but the Dogs defense will
experience a nightmare of a game if they do not play physical football
against Hawaii. Playing ten yards off the pass and allowing the
receivers to run underneath routes untouched will not get the job done
3) Throw in a little blitzing from all over the field - Fresno will
have to disguise it's defensive game plan to in a sense trick Hawaii.
The Bulldogs will have to make the Warriors believe one man is
blitzing when someone else is altogether. Fresno will have to bring
the safeties at times. On other plays they will have to bring the
corners. Still the LB's will have to be forced to blitz as well. The
key is to sack Brennan or force turnovers. For a team that has one
interception the entire year they will need a breakout performance
resulting in at least two interceptions if they hope to beat Hawaii.
4) Add in a sprinkle of ball control - Fresno State loves to run the
ball. While Matthews may not be 100% for this game he is scheduled to
play along with Miller and Pascoe. Our offensive line will not be
100% due to all of the injuries suffered to this point but they have
played together long enough to know what blocking schemes are what.
Fresno State will have to do everything in their power to control the
clock. If the Dogs do not hold the ball for at least ten minutes
longer than the Warriors they can kiss a victory goodbye. Hawaii
scores fast and the only way to combat that type of scoring is to hold
on to the ball for long drives. To see how this is done watch the
super bowl that took place in the early 90's between the Buffalo Bills
and the New York Giants. The Bills held the ball for all of 19
minutes in that game and still should have won. That is the kind of
effort it is going to take from Fresno State to win tomorrow.
5) Last but not least avoid mixing in turnovers - The Warriors will
have the ball enough to score fifty points if their offense is
clicking. The last thing Fresno State can do is allow the Warriors to
touch the ball more than after the Dogs score or punt. Last year
Fresno State turned the ball over three times en route to the 68-37
bombing they took. This year in order for the game to play out
differently the Dogs must reverse the turnover story. If Fresno State
cannot take the ball away from Hawaii and continues to give the ball
to the Warriors as if Christmas came early, there is absolutely no way
Fresno State will be close in this game.
I realize these steps are easier said than done. Stopping the run and
shoot offense is next to impossible, but it can be done. As I said
before Oregon State did it last season and if the Dogs can follow that
defensive plan they will have a shot in this game. If the Dogs do not
put pressure on Brennan and allow the Warriors to run untouched across
the field look forward to turning this one off at halftime. We just
do not have the type of offense that can come back from a large
deficit and that is exactly what Hawaii will try to do to us in the