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Keys To The Game: Fresno State Edition

Fresno State rolls into town with a brand new offense, and an impressive record. Will history repeat itself this Saturday, or will the Bulldogs new offensive and defensive schemes get the best of the Broncos this year? Lets get to it.

Fresno State comes into Boise with a 4-2 record, with a loss coming to Oregon, perhaps the best team in the country, and the other loss was against Tulsa. One key thing missing in this years Fresno State team is Pat Hill. The Fu-Manchu has been relived of head coaching duties, and gave way to Tim DeRuyter. The new coach decided to install the spread passing attack, and changed the defensive front to a 3-4.

Having watched some of Fresno State's games this year, they do have a chance to do some things against us in terms of the offense. Fresno State has three to five wide receivers on the field at any given time, and the name of the game is getting the ball out quick. This isn't a Mike Leach or a Dana Holgerson style spread attack, rather an offense designed to get guys the ball quickly. Looking at the numbers, the don't go down field a ton, most of the damage coming about 8 yards from the line of scrimmage. Carr averages 11 yards per completion. That is a pretty good number to have . But one thing about this Fresno State team is their statistics at home, and their statistics on the road.

Fresno averages 560 yards per game at home, and averages 364 yards per game on the road. That is a pretty substantial drop off. I am not sure what the reason for this is, but it is worthy of note. One thing also of note, is that Robbie Rouse gets the ball an awful lot. Rouse averages 113 rushing yards per game this year. I know what some of you are thinking.... Robbie Rouse is still in Fresno? Yep, he sure is. Deal with it. Not only does Rouse run the ball, but he is the 2nd leading pass catcher for the Bulldogs, which means containing Rouse is a huge key to winning the game.

Contain Rouse. To go with his 113 yards per game, he also gets 5 receptions per game, that is hefty amount for a running back. What I would like to see from our defense is holding Rouse to 70 yards or less on the ground, and only two receptions. This will be a tall feet, but we can do it.

As I mentioned earlier, Fresno averages 365 yards per game on the road, and if we are to beat Fresno we must hold them to 300 yards or less. We must hold Rouse to 40 yards under his rushing average per game and we also must hold Carr to 240 yards or less through the air, which is 60 yards less than his average. As I have said each week, if we are to beat a team, we must take them out of their rhythm and force them to do break their game plan. For a defense that has held serve on some pretty tough situations this year, I think this is very possible.

Our defense must find a way to disrupt the receivers of Fresno State. 6-2, 200 Lbs freshman Davante Adams is Carr's favorite target. What I would do, is rotate BSU corner backs in coverage against Adams, I would use Douglas on a few snaps, Taylor for most, and maybe even stick Hightower on him once in a while. It doesn't need to be on every snap, just enough to not make him feel comfortable. And I would even man up on Isaiah Burse once in a while.

As for Boise State, we need to forget what has happened in the past. A lot of people have been talking about how we have had Fresno's number the last decade. Thats well and good, but that is in the past. Those games we played, those are all in the past. Those games in the past mean nothing. Fresno has a new system, we have new faces, and this could be a very close contest.

Okay, first off, we need to establish the run. We need productivity on all downs, and that starts with the running game. 2nd down and 6 is so much easier than 2nd down in 9. As I have said before, the running game is the quarterbacks best friend. We need to have over 200 yards rushing this game. Harper gets close to 100 but we need Ajayi and Fields to get some good carries.

We must stop dropping passes. That is gonna kill drives and we cannot afford drops this game. We cannot have more than two drops this game. I know I am generous for allowing the offense to make two dumb mistakes with drops, but we have had upwards of four drops per game the last few weeks.

Southwick must have another big game. I foresee Southwick going for more than 300 yards this game, but only one touchdown pass. Our offense is leaning more on the running game in the red zone, and that is okay. I think our running game is going to put pressure on Fresno State right away. I am not a big fan of the 3-4 defense, and I go right at that defense. Make them prove they can stop the run with 4 linebackers and maybe even one safety in the box, but we can't abandon the pass game. Play action pass has been good for us. Look for the offense to gain more momentum and be the difference in this game. I am not sold on Fresno State as a powerful road team. It takes a special quarterback to lead a team on the road and bet a good team. Carr is getting better, but I think the towel will be staying up. I think we can beat them but it will be close. The crowd needs to show up for this game. I must admit, it will be strange playing Fresno during daytime hours, I sure wish it was a prime time game.... I think the stadium gets a little louder for the night games. My prediction, 28-20 Blue.