Fresno State had a season-high seven sacks in its victory at Hawaii, getting into the backfield and finishing, which had been a problem early in the season with opposing quarterbacks slipping away, then making plays down the field.
Outside linebackers Ejiro Ederaine and Donavon Lewis had four sacks between them against the Rainbow Warriors, two each, and Nat Harrison, Patrick Su'a and Charles Washington had one apiece.
And while the Bulldogs aim to that same type of production again on Saturday in a nonconference game at Idaho, they face a more difficult challenge in quarterbacks Chad Chalich and Josh McCain, both of whom have the ability to move around in the pocket and make plays with their feet.
Chalich last week in a victory over Temple passed for 310 yards and also ran for 114.
The defensive linemen spent a period in practice on Wednesday preparing for that, working a quarterback leverage drill, pushing up field on a pass rush and leveraging the quarterback in a full escape mode, dodging left and right, forward and back.
"We've got two kids at Idaho that can run and they get a lot of yards scrambling and usually it's a mismatch," defensive line coach Pete Germano said. "Sometimes, when you're coming off an edge, it's just about understanding where you have to finish. You have to be on an upfield shoulder and not lose contain and understand that they're elusive. The other thing is, if he steps up in the pocket, you have to turn and retrace, those types of things. It's a good drill no matter who you're playing, but this week it's appropriate because both those kids can run around."
The key for the Bulldogs' front will be getting there, and then keeping Chalich or McCain moving in directions they want them to go and not vice versa.
"When we get a sack, it's like we got a sack for the defense," Germano said. "The biggest thing you don't want, you have a chance to sack somebody, but the other guy didn't contain him. We should share in the sacks, because if you come underneath when you should be the leverage rusher and you have a guy coming free and he gets outside, then you've taken a sack away.
"We've got to work together as a group, making sure that we're fitting our blitzes right and running our pass rush scheme right and having our leverage so that we can just get a sack, period. End of story. Whoever gets it, it's our sack defensively."
Finishing plays, obviously, also would help a defense that has played solidly through long stretches, but has been susceptible to big plays, something defensive coordinator Nick Toth wants to get fixed.
Fresno State has given up 30 explosive plays of 20 or more yards including seven last week at Hawaii against an offense that went into the game struggling, rushing for only 2.4 yards per play and averaging 207.0 passing yards per game. The Rainbow Warriors had pass plays of 60, 49 and 35 yards.
"I love our physicality. I love how we've responded to adversity at the end of games. And 80 percent of the time I'm really happy with us -- I think we're better than we were a year ago 80 percent of the time, it's the 20 percent of the time we have to fix," Toth said.
"We have to make plays. When you're in position to make plays, you have to make plays. We've gotten beat on some deep balls. We've missed a tackle when we've needed it. So, our playmaking has got to get more consistent."
That includes chasing the opposing quarterbacks -- the Bulldogs went into the game with six sacks in their first three games.
"There was the same amount of pressure (at Hawaii) as there was the first three weeks, we just finished the sacks," Toth said. "Those sacks that we had been missing, we made. And we still missed two. So, the production, the numbers, were there, but the pressure was the same. We just finished the plays we needed to finish.
''That was good to see us finish the plays we needed to finish with the sacks. We didn't finish some other ones, but we finished those."