There is no missing piece to the puzzle. It has been analyzed and identified, and the only thing left for Fresno State, its offensive line and running backs to do is to put it together on game day, maybe Saturday at Hawaii, and then a run game that has sputtered at times could take off.
"It's just consistency," said Cameron Norcross, the Bulldogs offensive line coach. "It's just about being consistently physical and nasty. Saying, 'I will knock him off the football every time it's snapped.'
"That's what we've got to get to. It's not a thing about playing hard. You watch the tape, and we've got five O-linemen chasing the football. The tape is paused and the ball is put down and four, five offensive linemen already are there in the picture. It's just about finishing blocks."
Hawaii, although 0-3, may not be an easy mark despite allowing 31.3 points per game. The Rainbow Warriors will change up their fronts and have defended the run fairly well.
Over the past two games, losses at Oregon State and Nevada, Hawaii allowed only 2.5 yards on 77 plays.
No. 23 Fresno State (3-0) has augmented its run game with the quick passing game, quarterback Derek Carr taking what opposing defenses give him and hitting Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper on bubble screens and bullet throws to the outside.
That may play into the inconsistency in the run game — the Bulldogs are averaging only 101.7 yards per game and 3.5 per play and have had only one run of 20 or more yards, and that was by slot receiver Isaiah Burse on a fly sweep. The longest run by a running back is 17 yards by Marteze Waller in the season-opening overtime victory against Rutgers.
"A lot of the run game is tied to quick throws, so there are a lot of times where we've got the run, but we throw the quick, which is also there," offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said.
"There are times when we watch film we go, 'Wow, if we had handed that off. … But, wow, look what we got on the bubble or the bullet.' It is what it is. It will all come together."
But the lack of production in short-yardage and goal-line situations highlights the Bulldogs' inconsistency. In every game Fresno State has had a first-and-goal from inside the 3-yard line at least once and struggled to score.
Against Rutgers, it was a first-and-goal from the 2 and the Bulldogs needed a fresh set of downs following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Scarlet Knights — celebrating a third-down stop — to get into the end zone.
Against Cal Poly, the Bulldogs had a first-and-goal from the 3 and had to settle for a field goal.
And against Boise State, they had a first-and-goal from the 1 and again ended up having to kick a field goal.
In those three series, Fresno State rushed the ball seven times for 2 yards.
"We just have to finish our blocks," left tackle Austin Wentworth said. "It's just us trying to play out of our skin — we're not sticking to our true offense and our true rules.
"That's something we've looked at and analyzed. We get down there, and we're trying to do too much. We just need to run what we know how to do and block like we know we can. It sounds simple, but you get out there and things start flying; it gets hectic."
Norcross echoed that, adding that in areas where teams have to be able to run the ball — in short-yardage situations, in the goal-line area and in their 4-minute offense — the Bulldogs have struggled.
"That's the thing I'm preaching right now — every snap, we're going to do our job 100% on that snap. We have to finish blocks," Norcross said.
"When we're in short yardage or in the goal-line area, we have to finish with our feet in the end zone or past the first-down marker, and we have to start knocking guys off the ball. We're getting on people in the right spot and then losing them late. ...
"When people know you're going to run the football, you have to be able to do it, and it's just a matter of deciding, 'Hey, we're going to do it. We're going to knock these guys off the ball. We're not going to get knocked back. We're going to do our job on this play and then move on to the next play.' "
First road trip of year
NO. 25 FRESNO STATE AT HAWAII
Saturday: 9 p.m.
Records: Bulldogs 3-0, 1-0 MW; Warriors 0-3, 0-1
TV/radio: KSEE (24.1)/ KFIG (AM 940) and KGST (AM 1600)
Follow all of tonight's game action and interact with other fans at www.fresnobee.com/dogslive
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or @rkuwada on Twitter. Read his daily Fresno State updates at fresnobee.com/bulldogs.