Fresno State has become quite familiar with the Hawaiian paradise over the years.
The Bulldogs will be playing on the island of Oahu for a fourth straight year when they take on Rice in the Hawaii Bowl on Wednesday. Plus, Fresno State will make a fifth consecutive trip to the island next year when they play the Hawaii Warriors during the Mountain West regular season.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter said when asked if continuous trips to Hawaii helps Fresno State in recruiting. “We’ll go on the road and let guys know that just about every year we’re coming to paradise. And hopefully, we’ll keep getting invitations to the Hawaii Bowl.”
Fresno State has an all-time record of 11-16 in games in Hawaii: The Bulldogs are 11-14 when playing the Warriors here and 0-2 in postseason games (a 41-30 loss to Colorado in the 1993 Aloha Bowl and a 43-10 loss to Southern Methodist in the 2012 Hawaii Bowl).
The Bulldogs are hoping that previous visits to Hawaii have helped players focus on football and limit the many island distractions.
Fresno State has 19 players who played in the 2012 Hawaii Bowl, including five starters in offensive linemen Alex Fifita and Cody Wichmann, nose guard Tyeler Davison, outside linebacker Donavon Lewis and safety Derron Smith. That means there are 59 players on the roster this time who were not part of the 2012 squad.
“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time here,” DeRuyter said. “We know the hospitality of the Hawaii people; they do a terrific job with the bowl. We also know that as great as the last trip was, the last three hours were pretty miserable for us. Our players are determined to change that.
“We have a new group that’s with us this time. Certainly hope with the preparation and guys being here before that (though) there’s a lot of beautiful distractions here, we’ve got to remain focused on that one goal, which is to win a football game.”
Players also seemed to have benefited from more physical practices to help keep their focus for this bowl.
“We’ve had some great practices out here,” Smith said. “We’ve had good physical practices. So I definitely think that we’ve prepared better and still preparing better than we did two years ago.”