Stevens: Fresno State Good On Offense & Defense & Have a Great Quarterback

Oct. 24, 2012

New Mexico Lobos Football - Mountain West Conference - Vs Fresno State Bulldogs

When/Where: 1:30 p.m. (MT) Saturday - Branch Field - University Stadium
On The Air: 770-AM KKOB, Lobo Radio Network; Comcast 77 (TV)
GoLobos.com: GameTracker, Game Story, Statistics

By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Lobo Kasey Carrier says he plays football leaning on the old adage about how the size of the fight in the dog is more important than the size of the dog.

And here comes Fresno State with a whole lot of Bulldogs with a whole lot of fight - and a whole lot of talent.

Lobo Coach Bob Davie will even go out on a limb (with Boise State in the taillights) and say Fresno State might be the best overall team in the Mountain West.

Here are two scores to back that up: Fresno 52, San Diego State 40; Fresno 42, Wyoming 14.

The obvious thing about those scores is that when the Bulldogs are hot, they are very good and might well be better than the Boise State team that beat them 20-10. The Bulldogs beat a bad Colorado team 69-14 and have losses to Oregon, Tulsa and Boise State, who combine for a 20-2 mark. The 42-25 loss to Oregon wasn't that bad. Fresno had 365 yards and completed 29 passes in Oregon's closest contest of the season. The Ducks had only 87 rushing yards in the second half.

The Bulldogs have a dynamic passing attack behind Derek Carr, who tops the Mountain with 293.8 yards per game. That's a lot.

Carr has tossed 22 touchdowns in eight games which is No. 3 in the nation. He has tossed for 2,350 yards, completing 68 percent of his passes. Carr is the brother of former Bulldog quarterback David Carr, the 2001 NFL No. 1 pick.

"Our secondary is backed into a corner," said Davie. "Fresno is a lot like Texas Tech, and Texas Tech had 700 yards on us. It's a major challenge. They're tall. They're deep. They've got an NFL quarterback throwing them the ball."

The 6-foot-3 Carr has three of the top receivers in the league in Davante Adams (56-for-616 yards), Robbie Rouse (44-297) and Isaiah Burse (39-495).

Yep, the Bulldogs can sling it. But one reason Davie is so impressed with the Bulldogs is because they also have a ground attack. Rouse, a nice 5-foot-7 target out of the backfield, averages 109.9 yards for the 5-3 `Dogs.

Fresno leans a bit on its aerial attack, but the Bulldogs' running game is a nice complement. They have some balance. They have passed the ball 334 times and have run the ball 284 times. You can't ignore the Fresno ground attack.

"I think Fresno is the most balanced team in this conference. It's impressive watching them," said Coach Davie. "That's a strong football team."

That balance - and that talent - extends to the other side of the football. Fresno State is No. 1 in the Mountain in pass offense (303.4), but is No. 2 in rushing defense, No. 2 in pass defense, No. 2 in scoring defense, and No. 2 in total defense. The Bulldogs can beat you on both side of the ball.

"On defense they're a true 3-4 scheme, which Tim was at Air Force and at Texas A&M," said Davie of Fresno Coach Tim DeRuyter. "It's pretty similar to the defense we saw last week (at Air Force) from a schematic standpoint, although Fresno does it much faster with much bigger people.

"So, bottom line, it's a challenge. I'm sure they're not sitting there saying there are a lot of matchups they're really concerned about with us. "

That's probably been the case a number of times when opponents saw UNM on the scheduling horizon. That's probably not true anymore. The Lobos option is too impressive to overlook and is No. 5 nationally at 296.9 yards per game.

However, the Bulldogs have a lot of individual talent on their defensive unit: Tyeler Davison, Andy Jennings, Phillip Thomas, Derron Smith, Tristan Okpalaugo, Travis Brown - to name a few. They also are good at distorting and penetrating the line of scrimmage.

Thomas, a defensive back, leads the nation in interceptions with seven, which also ties the MW record. The talented Bulldog has returned three picks for scores, which is one short of the NCAA record. He is tied for the team lead with 52 tackles.

Fresno State Notes: The Bulldogs only allow 150.1 yards per contest on the ground. Fresno held Wyoming to 83 rushing yards... Senior safety Phillip Thomas forced his third fumble of the season and intercepted his seventh pass last Saturday vs. Wyoming. .. Derek Carr third nationally with 22 touchdown passes and is fifth in total passing yards with 2,350 ... Fresno senior running back Robbie Rouse became the first player in school history to rush for over 4,000 yards in a career last week. He needs one more 100-yard rushing game to tie for the most in Fresno State history... Fresno is 29th nationally in scoring (36.1) and 35 in scoring defense (21.8)... Fresno State's single-game record for points came in 1991 vs. the Lobos in a 94-14 victory. The Bulldogs had 756 total yards in that game... The Bulldogs rank No. 11 nationally in third-down defense. Wyoming was 2-for-17 on third down. ... Fresno is No. 4 (tie) nationally with 21 takeaways.

Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at rstevens50@comcast.net.