POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 09, 2010
FRESNO, Calif. » It only seems as if Fresno State's campus neighborhood has gone to the 'Dogs.
There is the Bulldog Store, where Fresno State fans may buy Bulldogs T-shirts, jackets, dog bowls and even Fresno State beef jerky.
A half-mile away, there is a store that sells Fresno State wine, from grapes grown on campus, with some bottles marked with the Bulldogs logo.
At the entrance to Bulldog Stadium, there is the "boneyard," a mock cemetery for the Bulldogs' opponents.
Then there is the path leading to the field, where Bulldogs fans bark insults at visiting teams.
"I talked to my players about what the crowd will be like," said head coach Greg McMackin, whose Warriors play Fresno State tonight. "There will be elderly ladies waving their fists at us, and people yelling at us, and even 5-year-old guys yelling. It will be a real hostile environment."
But yesterday afternoon, there was none of that. The stadium stands were empty during the Warriors' 1-hour walk-through session. The only yelling came from UH special teams coordinator Chris Tormey, who led the kickoff drills.
The Warriors have ideas on how to deal with long travel and, perhaps, some elevation. But McMackin conceded there is no way to replicate the collective passion of the Bulldogs fans.
"That's OK," McMackin said. "You have to play in front of those crowds. We played in front of the whole Army academy. The student body was behind us. You have to learn to play in those situations, and you look forward to it. It makes the game fun. You like that kind of pressure."
Instead, the Warriors spent the hour working on special teams and about 10 trick plays. Were those plays real or decoys?
McMackin smiled and said: "You never know who's watching."
Later, he said: "We just wanted to get the players out here, to get a feel for the stadium and the turf. We wanted them to try to make some cuts."
McMackin said the Warriors are relatively healthy. Left wideout Rodney Bradley, who did not play last week because of a strained left hamstring, will start tonight.
Offensive linemen Matagisila Lefiti and Brett Leonard have recovered from preseason injuries.
And kicker Scott Enos, who has suffered from back spasms, appears to be in good health.
"We're really excited about this game," McMackin said. "Everybody will be watching back in Hawaii. The Fresno fans' enthusiasm will psych us up. This game means a lot to both teams."
Both teams are 1-0 in the Western Athletic Conference.
After the walk-through, the Warriors returned to the downtown hotel where they are staying. Then the defensive players gathered in the parking lot, and had another walk-through workout.
"We're doing everything we can to be prepared," McMackin said.