Game site fa­mil­iar turf for SMU’S Jones

He was the head coach at Hawaii for pre­vi­ous 8 years.

Austin American-Statesman - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Doug Fer­gu­son

— SMU coach June Jones felt and looked right at home when he walked into Aloha Sta­dium.

Dressed in slacks and flip flops, he strolled down a cor­ri­dor where por­traits of Hawaii’s big­gest stars hung on the wall, most of them play­ers that Jones coached dur­ing an eight-year ten­ure that made him so pop­u­lar in par­adise that some sug­gested he run for gov­er­nor. When Jones left a news con­fer­ence for the Hawaii Bowl, he flashed the “Hang Loose” sym­bol to faces he has seen for years.

Never mind that Fresno State knows this is­land and sta­dium from play­ing at Hawaii ev­ery other year in the Moun­tain West Con­fer­ence. Or that the Bulldogs, who have won their last five games by an av­er­age of 26 points, are fa­vored by nearly two touch­downs against SMU on Christ­mas Eve.

Jones has am­ple rea­son to feel the Hawaii Bowl is a home game.

“Coming into the sta­dium it sure does,” Jones said. “We’re in the same locker room. I know where ev­ery­body is. I rec­og­nize all the work­ers. From that stand­point, it does. But it all comes down to see­ing friends. I try to teach my kids that you play the game and you want to win, but there’s more to it than that. It’s about the peo­ple around you and all the in­tan­gi­ble things that make an or­di­nary team bet­ter.”

Jones will be coach­ing for the 75th time in Aloha Sta­dium when his Mus- tangs (6-6) face Fresno State (9-3) in the Hawaii Bowl. He hasn’t lost in this sta­dium since Ore­gon State beat Hawaii on Dec. 2, 2006. Hawaii had a per­fect reg­u­lar sea­son in 2007, and then Jones bolted for SMU over what he felt were hol­low prom­ises about up­grad­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

SMU, which had gone 25 years with­out a bowl game dat­ing to its NCAA penalty, ended that drought when Jones brought it to the Hawaii Bowl in 2009 and, de­spite be­ing nearly a two-touch­down fa­vorite to an­other MWC team, scored the first 38 points in a 45-10 win over Ne­vada.

Fresno State, how­ever, presents a dif­fer­ent kind of test.

Since los­ing to Boise State, the Bulldogs have av­er­aged just over 47 points in win­ning their last five games. They swept all the con­fer­ence awards this year — of­fen­sive player of the year (quar­ter­back Derek Carr), de­fen­sive player (strong safety Phillip Thomas) and top fresh­man (Da­vante Adams).

“To a fan watch­ing this game, they’ll see two spread of­fenses that can light up a score- board, and two de­fenses that can take it away,” Tim DeRuyter, who set a Fresno State record for most wins in his first sea­son as head coach.

Jones has seen plenty of Fresno State from his day at Hawaii when it was part of the West­ern Ath­letic Con­fer­ence, ex­cept that th­ese Bulldogs don’t look all that fa­mil­iar. He is not used to see­ing them spread the field with so many play­mak­ers — Adams with 13 touch­down catches, Rob­bie Rouse, the 5-foot-7 run­ning back who rushed for 1,498 yards, and Carr.

SMU coach June Jones will be coach­ing for the 75th time in Aloha Sta­dium. JOHN F. RHODES / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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