Turnovers Are the Talk of the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl

Dec. 22, 2012

By Jason Clay

HONOLULU- Two potent offensives will be playing in the 2012 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Monday, but at the preview press conference held at Aloha Stadium Friday it was the defenses of SMU and Fresno State that was the hot topic.

Both Fresno State and SMU are tied for third nationally with 33 take-aways. Fresno State has forced a turnover in every game this season and has seven games with three or more take-aways.

Head coach Tim DeRuyter, quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Jeremiah Toma - the three that represented Fresno State at Friday's press conference - all believe that the matchup between the two schools will be a good one.

"They've created 33 take-aways this year just like our defense has and I think that ultimately is going to be the story of the ball game on Monday," DeRuyter said. "Who takes care of the football and who creates the most take-aways.

"We've done a pretty good job of taking care of it. Derek [Carr] has 36 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. That's what we've had to do to turn this season around was to take care of our turnover margin, which wasn't very good last year, and our guys have done it. If we can do that Monday, I think our defense will rise to the occasion."

Now the motivating charge is to turn around the teams bowl luck. The Bulldogs, who practiced again Friday morning at the University of Hawai'i, are making their 12th bowl appearance in the last 14 seasons. However, Fresno State hasn't won a bowl game since 2007 and that is something the team is looking to change.

"This whole season we've been living off of turnovers," Toma said. "I just see our defense this year, it has been so different from when I came into this program, working as a family and the way we've come together, that's what really created all of these turnovers and made the difference in so many games.

"We believe that if we get the ball back to Derek that he is going to go down and score. This Christmas Eve when we go against SMU, I really believe that we are going to see two great defense and hopefully we can play to the best of our ability."

Carr said just arriving at the stadium for the first time on Friday has him amped for the game.

"It is exciting pulling up to the stadium where you can't help but think that the Pro Bowlers play here," Carr said. "It's so cool that Ray Lewis, Payton Manning, Tom Brady, all those guys play here and it's kind of cool to be able to play on the same field that they did."

Carr dismissed any notion that a month layoff from the last time the Bulldogs played a game will affect the team.

"We're going to be ready to go," Carr said. "Going out there throwing routes, our timing was great today [at practice] and that's the key for our offense and our passing game. I felt that guys were hitting it on time, the o-line was doing a great job and the running backs were doing a great job.

"I think the fact that we get to play in a bowl game this year, we're so blessed to be in a bowl game. Last year we were on our couch. Just being able to be at the bowl game, that energy and just how excited we are is really going to fire us up."

DeRuyter agreed and believes there is a lot on the line with this bowl game.

"We have the opportunity to win a 10th game, which we haven't done in a long time," DeRuyter noted. "Getting the chance to play on national TV, at a time when nobody else is playing a game, not the NFL, nobody, it's a great chance to showcase what Fresno State is all about."

Fresno State practices again on Saturday at the University of Hawai'i and is holding a walk thru Sunday at Aloha Stadium.

"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".