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Underdog Warriors hoping to avoid being hit by Carr

By Stephen Tsai


FRESNO, Calif. » At the entry to Bulldog Stadium, there is "The Boneyard," a cemetery-like display where the names of Fresno State opponents are memorialized in bone-shaped plates.

"Hawaii" occupies one of the plots.

Several Warriors took pictures with their phones as they made the descent to the field for Friday's walk-through session.

UH coach Norm Chow marveled at the pageantry, although not so much about the message. The Warriors' demise is premature, despite entering today's game as 331⁄2-point underdogs to the Bulldogs.

It has been a difficult road for the Warriors this season. They are 1-6 after five consecutive losses. Because larger planes were needed for flights to New York, the Warriors were aboard a smaller aircraft for the flight between Honolulu and Los Angeles on Wednesday.

On Thursday, they made the four-hour drive, on four buses, from Los Angeles to Fresno, with a quick stopover in Bakersfield for lunch.

"These are great kids," Chow said. "They never complain about conditions."

The Warriors will be short-handed for this Mountain West game. They brought 60 players — four below the conference limit. Injuries have thinned the number of available players.

There also are health concerns about some of the players on the travel roster. Guard Dave Lefotu might not start because of a sore ankle. Defensive end Beau Yap also is dealing with an ankle issue. Defensive end Tavita Woodard is expected to be in the opening lineup, with Yap part of the rotation.

The Warriors will face a wide-open offense that attacks out of spread formations. Chow is familiar with Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, whose older brother David was picked first overall by the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft.

Chow was the offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans when he noticed a kid throwing a football during the Texans' warm-ups. That kid was Carr, whose brother was Houston's starting quarterback.

"We were actually talking about that at media day in Las Vegas this summer," Carr said. "Coach Chow is a great person. I respect him a lot. It's kind of cool that he remembered me when I was that little."

Carr is now a fourth-year junior and married. But growing up, he was not an idle Carr.

"We played all of the sports," Carr said. "I'm the best basketball player in the family. That's a joke toward my brother. We like to talk trash to each other."

Carr said his brother, a Fresno State alumnus, set the way.

"I think throwing a football runs in our blood a little bit," Carr said.

Their blood, it seems, is Fresno State red.

"Everything I wanted to do in my life, my brother came here, and he did it," Carr said. "I thought if it worked for him, why wouldn't it work for me? He paved the path. As long as I stay on the road that he paved and keep working hard, I hope it will work out the same way for me."

Carr is close to achieving one of his goals. He will earn a bachelor's degree next semester.

"When I was little, I never really thought of a college degree," he recalled. "I never knew or thought I would be able to get one someday. Now that it's almost here, it's really one of my favorite accomplishments. Hopefully, I'll be able to use it down the road."

As for whether he will apply for the 2013 NFL Draft, he said, "We don't know yet. A lot of people say that I am. That's not set in stone. Honestly, we don't know. I pray a lot, and we'll see what happens."

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