Saturday night Fresno State struggled to beat a good team, on the road. This week, the ‘Dogs will face a very good team, on the road.
Now, don't misunderstand, Nevada is not a great team, but they are very good. Their running game is better than very good - it is the best in the country. Colin Kaepernick is the most effective running quarterback FS will face this year - and historically, the ‘Dogs don't do so well against running quarterbacks.
Let me state this bluntly. If the defense plays Nevada like it played Idaho...the ‘Dogs will lose the game.
They played solid defense in the first half, it's true - but in the second half, they stank up the joint.
FS went in at the half with a 24-0 lead, having just shut out the Vandals in their own Zeppelin hangar, holding their quarterback, Brian Reader, to 29 yards passing in the first half. In the second half, he torched the ‘Dogs for 210 yards!
The second half score was 21-7, Idaho. That is not good. As Pat Hill said, "We'll need to play a lot better to win against Nevada." Amen.
I'm still worry about Bulldog tackling, and the lack thereof. The ‘Dogs did some lousy tackling on Saturday night. The defensive line and linebackers struggled to stop Idaho. Of the four leading tacklers, three were defensive backs. Ben Jacobs had three tackles. Nico Herron had one. It was ugly. (Jacobs did recover a fumble that was a huge play in the game. That was sweet.) They allowed some big, gashing rambles. That will kill them at Nevada.
2. Lorne Bell
He looks healthy, again. Clearly, he is the hardest hitter on this football team. Seems to be the only guy willing to stand in the breach like a rock and deny passage.
Glad, he is healthy. The ‘Dogs MUST have him, to beat Nevada. I wish we could put his spirit and attitude - his "intent to hit" - into a linebacker's body....
3. Ryan Colburn
He looked very good, last night. His passes were accurate. He made good decisions. He never missed a throw, just a solid, quality effort.
He had a beautiful 40-yard pass - I think it was to Marlon Moore. That throw into the right corner of the end zone (to Seyi?) was perfect.
Ryan Colburn did everything asked of him, and did it well. He did have couple of spasms handling the football. A handoff to Mathews and another fumbled snap. Both were recovered, however. Overall, he graded out very well.
4. Ryan Mathews
I literally saw 10 guys "in the box" on two separate occasions on Saturday night. By that, I mean ten (10) guys, up on the line, close enough to touch each other, all focused on Ryan Mathews. Both times, he got the ball. Stopped him, the first time, three-yard gain, the second.
On multiple occasions, he was tackled by six guys, in a gang-tackle. My point is - he is now the absolute key for the entire opposing defense to worry about. He has created an at-all-costs urgency in the minds of defensive coordinators. They will obviously risk other areas of defensive coverage to stop Mathews. Surely, that fixation can be used against Nevada...?
He has a knee injury (knee strain). He missed most of the game, Saturday night. Hope it is not serious. He is one of the four, or five players on this team that Fresno State absolutely HAVE to keep healthy to succeed. Jackson may be the best offensive lineman on the team. CBS named him a mid-season second-team All American. Cooper is a decent stand-in, but he ain't Andrew Jackson.
editor's note: Jackson's knee strain was reported as not serious by Coach Pat Hill during Monday's press conference. Jackson may or may not play this week at Nevada. It is not a season-ending injury.
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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