"It was a struggle trying to get things going our way," Kalen DeBoer said after his team won 38-30. "I'm as proud of that game as I am any others you know because we found a way."
FULL HIGHLIGHTS: Fresno State wins MW opener v. UNLV
With a firm grip on a national ranking, now ranked #18 in the country, the Dogs can enjoy a week with considerably less national noise.
"Going through yesterday and today, there's less attention on our guys," DeBoer said. "There's not as many distractions and interviews and things that they've had to do to where they're back in a normal routine."
Fresno State (4-1, MW 1-0) will look to carry that momentum to Hawaii (2-3, 0-1) and avenge a season opening 34-19 loss that started 2020.
"I definitely think the guys are motivated," said offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb. "It was a loss that started our season out wrong and I definitely don't think the guys have let that go. I think there's going to be something personal to this week."
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It's perhaps the most personal for quarterback Jake Haener, who in his debut with FS, had three interceptions and a fumble against the Rainbow Warriors.
"He certainly is a different player and I think that's behind him," DeBoer said Monday. "He might answer that question a little bit different, he's probably still got it in the back of his mind cause it's been talked about a lot during the offseason."
On top of the long travel, FS is expected to battle the wind, something that was noticeably higher at the more exposed on campus stadium than at the now condemned Aloha Stadium.
"Jake is a high velocity thrower which means his ball turns over a lot," said Grubb. "As coach DeBoer and I both grew up in the Midwest and coached quarterbacks back there where 15-20 mph winds was pretty regular. If you got a guy that can spin the ball and throw tight spirals, you'll be fine."
DeBoer, who coached five years at Sioux Falls echoed those thoughts saying, "Both coached together in the Midwest and everybody's idea of how windy things are is all relative. We haven't seen wind yet since I've been here at Fresno State."
Because of local health guidelines in Honolulu, just like last season's meeting, Saturday's game will be played without fans.
"Last year wasn't a lot of fun without fans, so it's a little bit of that but where we're at as a football team right now and what we're playing for each and every week is a huge asset for us going into this football game," said DeBoer.
FS will travel to Hawaii on Friday with kickoff set for Saturday at 8:00 PM.
ANOTHER MW HONOR
For the second straight week, the Mountain West's offense player of the week is coming from Fresno State. Jalen Cropper earns that distinction after four touchdowns against UNLV.
When you tie the conference record for most touchdown catches in a game, it's only right you get recognized 🏅@jcropper_5 is the MW Offensive Player of the Week‼️— Fresno State Football (@FresnoStateFB) September 27, 2021
📰: https://t.co/fbWdiAkWcz#GoDogs | #PrideOfTheValley pic.twitter.com/qB4WOIzcG1
That ties a conference record in a single game that was set by Davante Adams who twice had 4 TD in games in 2013.
Cropper has scored a touchdown in six straight games.