By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
HONOLULU-The Fresno State football team practiced for two hours Thursday morning when there was a mixture of rain and sunshine at the campus of the University of Hawai'i.
Although Thursday's practice was the first since the team arrived on the Island of O'ahu the day before, it was the eighth overall in the Bulldogs' preparation leading up to the 2012 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl where the 'Dogs will face SMU at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
"We had a focused practice today and I was really pleased with our effort," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "What was good is we got the chance to practice in the elements. We had some pretty good wind gusts, we had some rain coming at times and then sunshine. It's kind of the predictably unpredictable here, but it's good to get a chance to practice in it because you have to have focus to go through that and then it may happen on Monday."
Fresno State, which enters the bowl game 9-3 overall, is hungry to pick up its 10th victory of the season. The last time the Bulldogs won 10 games in a season was in 2001 when the 'Dogs finished 11-3 overall.
"It was a very good practice, I was proud of our guys and how we came out here today," junior quarterback Derek Carr said. "It felt like we were just back at home and that's what we expected."
The Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl matches up two teams that have a lot of similarities. Both teams run a 3-4 defense and offensively, SMU and Fresno State will do a lot in the passing game while mixing it up with two of the nation's best running backs.
Zach Line, SMU's running back, enters the game as the nation's sixth-leading active rusher with 4,114 yards. Bulldog tailback Robbie Rouse, with 4,625 career rushing yards, is the nation's third-leading active rusher.
"They're very, very balanced," DeRuyter said of SMU's run-and-shoot offense. "With Zach Line, he's a tremendous running back, you've got to be not just focused on their passing game. Anytime you've got a balanced offense it makes it more difficult, but what you've got to do is be sound in the running game and still be able to mix up looks in the secondary and pressure the quarterback."
Rouse said he is excited to go up against SMU's 3-4 because the Bulldogs see it all the time in practice running against their own defense.
"They have good size, really got some big guys up front and move well, so I'm just excited for the matchup," Rouse said. "They beat Tulsa, we lost to Tulsa so we know they can play well. They won their last three or four games I believe, so they are going good right now."
Fresno State has three practices remaining before kicking off the 2012 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on ESPN Monday evening.
"Discover Fresno State Football" - The flagship radio station of Fresno State Football is KMJ 580 AM and the Spanish Flagship is KGST-AM "ESPN Deportes".
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