Hawaii Analysis: SMU 43, Fresno State 10

Posted Dec 25, 2012

The instant analysis and reaction to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Sheraton Hawai'i SMU 43, Fresno State 10

SMU shocked the heavily favored Bulldogs with 22 second quarter points and a defense that controlled the game throughout. QB Garrett Gilbert started out the scoring with a 17-yard touchdown run, and then the defense set up scores with a fumble recovery and a huge sack from Margus Hunt for a safety. Fresno State finally got on the bard with a six-yard Davante Adams touchdown catch early in the third, but SMU answered back with a 21-yard Darius Johnson scoring grab. Even down 29-10, the Bulldogs appeared to have the momentum late, but Taylor Reed ended the fun with a 69-yard pick six with just over nine minutes to play. Hayden Greenbauer closed out the blasting with an 83-yard interception return for a score.

SMU: The Mustangs came up with seven sacks led by DE Margus Hunt, who came up with two sacks, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries. … LB Taylor Reed made a team-leading nine tackles with a sack, three tackles for loss, an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery. … QB Garrett Gilbert completed 14-of-28 passes for 212 yards and a score with two picks, and he ran 18 times for 98 yards and a score. … Zach Line ran 19 times for 71 yards and a score.

Fresno State: The defense generated five sacks from five different players. … LB Jeremiah Toma made five tackles and two picks. … The offense was held to -16 rushing yards. Robbie Rouse gained 22 yards on 13 carries. … WR Davante Adams caught 13 passes for 144 yards and a score. … QB Derek Carr completed 33-of-54 passes for 362 yards and a score with two picks. … The offense turned the ball over four times.

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By Pete Fiutak
- Give June Jones credit; the man knows how to coach in Hawaii. That should've been taken into consideration a bit more when assuming Fresno State was going to play like it had during the regular season.

- While Jones returning to Hawaii made for an interesting storyline, did his roots account for one more ticket sold?

- There was actually a point when it seemed like Fresno State was going to explode and go on a late run to make this interesting. Taylor Reed ended that with his pick six with just over nine minutes to play.

- Where was this SMU pass rush all season long? Margus Hunt is a future player in The League, but it's not like the D did anything go get into the backfield. In fact, it was the opposite – SMU was 12th in Conference USA in sacks.

- Hunt came up with the textbook definition of sitting on a quarterback's head.

- And it's not like Fresno State's pass protection was all that bad this year. Derek Carr was kept relatively clean.

- During draft time, right tackle Alex Fifita will be seen being outquicked over and over and over again by a few brilliant moves by Hunt.

- The highlights aren't kind to the Bulldog O line.

- Fresno's Robbie Rouse averaged 122 rushing yards per game. He had 22 on 13 carries.

- SMU QB Garrett Gilbert was the Garrett Gilbert that Texas would've like Parade All-American Garrett Gilbert to have been – at least running the ball. It's not like he's that much of a threat to take off, and he was crunched way too much by the Fresno State pass rush, but he was great in the open field.

- Of course, there were those two picks to look like the Longhorn version.

Richard Cirminiello

While SMU DE Margus Hunt didn't need tonight's performance to grab the attention of pro scouts, it sure didn't hurt his asking price. He's a bigger, more freakishly athletic edition of Florida State's Bjoern Werner.

Nice debut as a head man, Tim DeRuyter. But you just got thoroughly outcoached by SMU's June Jones, who did not have the talent edge to win the Hawaii Bowl by darn near five touchdowns. Huge victory, by the way, for Jones who did not enjoy a stellar season on the sidelines for the Mustangs.

Kudos to SMU defensive coordinator, who did a brilliant job preparing for a Fresno State offense that had scored at least 42 points in each of its last five games. The Bulldogs were held to minus rushing yards, turned the ball over four times and were outscored, 14-10, by the Mustangs D.

His surprising mobility aside, SMU QB Garrett Gilbert continues to play like one of the biggest busts of the 2009 recruiting classes. His lack of development and subsequent transfer out of Austin are big reasons why Texas is having trouble behind center to this day.

The upshot of tonight's debacle for Fresno State? If QB Derek Carr had even an inkling of changing his mind about returning for his senior year, it's gone now. Certainly not all his fault, but the blowout loss was a humbling reminder that another dozen games of seasoning will help his long-term future as the next of Rodger and Sheryl Carr's boys to play on Sundays.

By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

Yes, 6-6 teams belong in a bowl game. After all, those teams are usually the ones with the most to prove in the postseason.

Let's be honest: no one saw this coming. A June Jones-coached team wins a game by dominating on defense? That's right, it was the Mustang D -- which registered seven sacks and returned 2 INTs for scores -- that made the difference in this contest. Not a bad outing for a unit that finished near the bottom of Conference USA in both sacks and passing defense.

Yes, Margus Hunt is ready to play at the next level. The Bulldog offense couldn't stop Hunt from putting pressure on Derek Carr, even when they double and triple-teamed him. His unique blend of size and speed will make him an asset to any NFL team in need of a pass rusher (or kick blocker).

Despite Hunt's stellar performance, the game ball belongs to Garrett Gilbert, who made plays with his arm (210 yards passing) and his feet (117 yards rushing). It will be interesting to see whether Jones takes advantage of Gilbert's newfound running skills next season.

I wonder if Texas misses having him under center.

Even though it laid an egg today, Fresno State football has a very bright future in front of it. While losing Robbie Rouse and Phillip Thomas will hurt, the Bulldogs have plenty of talent returning on both sides of the ball, including Carr, Davante Adams, Andy Jennings, and Derron Smith. With so many players coming back, and the departure of Boise and San Diego State to the Big East, expect Fresno to emerge as a potential BCS Buster next year.