Yeah, Fresno State did win... and all wins are good, I know, I know. And I know that Cal Poly was nationally ranked among FCS schools, and that they did beat San Diego State, twice in the last four years. But still... Cal Poly? And the ‘Dogs are only up 21-17 at the half? Really?
Part of the dissatisfaction is an apprehension about the arrival of Hawaii, this week, for the game on Saturday... Hawaii just whipped Louisiana Tech Saturday night, 41-21. Moniz passed for 532 yards and four touchdowns (!).
Hawaii is the No. 1 passing team in the country. They are a hell of a lot better than the Mustangs...
See, if you have a good D1 team and you play a lower division school, then you are supposed to display dominance. But with three fumbles and an interception, what the Bulldogs displayed – at least in the first half – was inconsistency, ineptitude and, at times, a lack of focus. The ‘Dogs can't play like that against Hawaii – not if they want to beat them.
Thankfully, they made some adjustments, began to concentrate on the task at hand and looked a lot better in the second half. Let's look at the good stuff...
1. Isaiah Burse is a flamethrower.
Why? He will burn you badly, if he gets a chance. This young man "burst" onto the scene last night, in a big way. Specifically, he gave notice of his ability to the Bulldog Nation in an eye-poping play, where he caught a short pass, then broke a tackle, juked a couple guys and then took off for a 58-yard touchdown sprint down the left sideline. Wow. The guy is dangerously quick. He also blocked a (two) punt, last night. Sweet.
Burse, a true freshman, is just one of an amazing bunch of young, fast, talented wide receivers, stabled in the Bulldog clubhouse. Some of the other racehorses include Jalen Saunders (also a true freshman), Matt Lindsey, Rashad Evans, A.J. Johnson, not to mention Jamel Hamler and Devon Wylie, who were injured. Evans played, last night, but only a very little (one play). Hope to have him back, full blast, by Saturday.
2. A "Three Headed Monster" in the Bulldog backfield?
Yup. It sure looks like it. Tracy Slocum, Robbie Rouse, and Michael Harris all produced significant yardage. Those three combined for 202 yards and comprised the lion's share of 253 total Fresno State yards on the ground. Decent night, running the ball.
Tracy Slocum, the Cal transfer who played his high school ball at Clovis East, probably shined the brightest – tempered by that horrific fumble he lost on our own 1-yard line. That was a 7-point gift to Cal Poly. Otherwise, Slocum is a solid back – he's big enough, fast enough, he's a north-south guy, and he lowers his shoulder and hits people. He also keeps his feet churning. He had eight carries for 71 yards, at 8.9 yards per touch. Very nice. He needs to get 20 carries, or so. Hope he continues to shine.
Robbie Rouse, in all honesty, is just not quite the same flashy jitterbug he was last year.
However, he does get cut some slack because he was injured – and he did have a decent game. Starting to see some of the old Robbie, peeking through, he had his bright moments, Saturday night. He had 14 carries for 70 yards, for a solid five yards per carry. May be steadily returning to form, we'll see.
Michael Harris had his best night as a Bulldog, last night. Good for him. He looked pretty fast and he averaged 7.5 yards a carry. Had a 24-yard ramble, as well. His input will be needed.
3. Travis Brown – the ‘Dogs best linebacker?
This young man had six tackles... in the first quarter! If there is an award for being constantly "up" for the game - he should get it. He just LOVES to play football, and it really shows. He had nine tackles, including TFL's (tackles for loss) and he was in the SLO backfield all night long. Awesome!
4. QB Ryan Colburn is the No. 5 player in the country!
As of Sunday morning's NCAA stats, Colburn is ranked No. 5 in the nation in passing efficiency, just ahead of Kellen Moore of the Donks. Ryan has thrown for 992 yards, 11 touchdowns against three interceptions. He is right at a 73% completion rate, after four games. He continues to play confident, heads up football. Tough guy. His arm is stronger. He threw a couple of passes Saturday night that were just amazing.
BTW, that interception was not on Colburn. OK, maybe he shouldn't have thrown it, but he actually hit the guy on the numbers! It was a perfect deep strike that was bobbled – and the Cal Poly player just grabbed it.
Ryan Colburn is rapidly becoming an excellent D1 quarterback.
5. This Defense is MUCH better than it was.
Yes, it does still have trouble defending the run, as evidenced by the 400-yard steamrolling administered by Brandon Bolden and the Ole Miss backfield. However, last night was somewhat better. That triple option was effectively contained, even though it was not shut down. The defense still allowed 200 yards rushing, but the ‘Dogs wiped out the Cal Poly passing game. They had 18 yards through the air. Significantly, the Mustangs were held scoreless in the second half.
The pass defense is hugely improved. According to the NCAA, Logan Harrell is ranked No. 3 in the nation in sacks. The guy is just on fire. He has become a force to be reckoned with – and he is not a defensive end – he is a DT! In truth, he is one of the reasons Fresno State is doing so well defending the pass.
By harassing quarterbacks, Harrell – along with All-WAC DE Chris Carter, OLB Travis Brown, DE Donovan Pritchett and others – have forced opposing quarterbacks to hurry their throws, to throw off balance, on the run, etc. The result? Well, here's a shocker. After four games, Fresno State now has the <>No. 2 pass defense in the country... seriously.
The combination of a much improved pass rush, along with a really upgraded defensive backfield, is a nasty prospect for a throwing team to contend with. All the defensive backs are hard-hitting, aggressive, and talented. Philip Thomas is an All-WAC safety in the making. Lorne Bell is still a headhunter at the other safety, and the corners, Desia Dunn and Jermaine Thomas are playing at a very high level, indeed.
That makes this Saturday's game at Bulldog Stadium a doozy. The No. 2 pass defense versus the No. 1 passing offense....? It won't be boring!
6. OK, here's the negative side.
Fresno State has to do SOMETHING about penalties. The ‘Dogs had 11 penalties for 99 yards, last night. That could be fatal in a tough game (like Hawaii... or Nevada... or Boise) – some are being made by repeat offenders, who need to be disciplined.
They need to focus on ball security. That's is a game killer.
That's it. No other serious beefs to make.
7. Congratulations to Washington.
The Huskies beat USC in the Trojan's own house, on a last second field goal. Nice.
Redroadster is highly regarded attorney in the Central Valley, a loyal Bulldog fan, and a regular poster/contributor on BarkBoard.com. Check in time to time for his take on games and other Bulldog athletic events in his View from the Roadster.
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