Countdown To Kickoff - Fresno State

 

By W.G. Ramirez, Special to TheMW.com.

FRESNO STATE

  • Predicted Finish - First in the West Division
  • Retuning/Lost Lettermen - 37/16
  • Returning/Lost Starters - 16/9
  • Key Returner - Senior DB Derron Smith

The Skinny – The Bulldogs lost two of their last three games to end the 2013 season, but it's the setback in the regular-season finale that still stings. A 62-52 loss at San José State brought an end to their chances at a BCS bowl. Favored to return to the Mountain West title game, the Dawgs are hoping their speedy and physical ways can make another run, as coach Tim DeRuyter comes into the season as one of just two coaches in the history of the Mountain West to win 20 or more games in his first two years. To continue their winning ways, the Bulldogs will be living life without departed quarterback Derek Carr, and it'll be either Brian Burrell or Brandon Connette calling the signals this year. Last season, the Fresno State ranked No. 1 nationally with their passing offense, generating 394.8 yards per game. Both Burrell and Connette have been splitting time rotating between the first and second units during fall camp. Defensive back and MW Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Derron Smith will lead the defense, which must improve after allowing a little more than 430 yards last season.

Says Smith, on team's approach as preseason favorite in the West Division - "I don't really feel like we have a target on our back. We're gonna go into every game thinking the target is on the other team's back. We're gonna be the aggressor, we're gonna be the hunter, we're gonna attack. We don't look too much into preseason hype.

For a complete preview, watch Fresno State's "Countdown to Kickoff" preview video below: