Week 2: Defensive Keys to the Game Review

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Bulldog Playbook reviews the how Fresno State fared in they're defensive keys to the game...

Fresno State's starting defense excelled in all three keys against Cal Poly, holding the Mustangs to just 44 yards and 2 first downs in the first half. The Bulldogs were not able to do the same in the second half as the Mustangs scored 25 points and had 372 yards in the half alone, largely against Fresno State's second teamers.

Play Assignment Perfect

The Bulldogs needed to play assignment perfect to prevent Cal Poly's triple-option from having success and they did just that on Saturday. Fresno State held the Mustangs to just 24 rushing yards on 22 first half carries. The Mustangs' longest first half run was 13 yards from quarterback Vince Moraga, their only run longer than 7 yards in the first half.

Cal Poly did manage one long run against the Fresno State starting defense early in the third quarter, a 52 yard run by Kristaan Ivory. The play wasn't a breakdown in assignments, but rather a risk on play calling according to Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter. The Bulldogs ran a run blitz, but the Mustangs countered to the opposite side where Ivory found open field.

First Down Defense

Fresno State excelled on first down defense in Saturday's game. The Bulldogs forced seven punts in the first half, five of which occurred after Fresno State stopped the Mustangs at, or behind, the line of scrimmage on first down. Cal Poly gained positive yardage just three times on first down in the first half, two of which led their only two first downs of the half. Second-and-long situations put their triple-option offense in bad situations.

"When you take a triple-option team and you put them in second-and-long, you make it tough on them," DeRuyter said. "They like to be in second-and-five or second-and-two and now they are on schedule and they can do more with their offense."

Limit Big Plays

The Bulldogs corrected their run defense and played assignment sound against Cal Poly's run game, giving up just one big play on a 52 yard run from Ivory. Fresno State gave up just one play of over 10 yards in the first half, keeping the Mustangs' offense behind the 50 yard line for the entire first 30 minutes.

Fresno State's reserves failed to prevent big plays, allowing the Mustangs to come within two possessions of tying the game. Cal Poly's Chris Brown had five plays of 20 yards or more in the second half, including passes of 50 and 39 yards to Willie Tucker.

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