Marteze Waller and Charles Washington.
In case Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter needs help figuring out which of his Bulldogs kept playing hard Saturday night when Wyoming turned a two-score game into a 45-17 bulldozing, that’s where the list starts.
Not saying Waller and Washington were the only ones. Just the most obvious from my press box seat.
Waller continued to amass rushing yards, 116 of them against the Cowboys, and still remained underutilized (18 carries). He all but vanished in the fourth quarter (three carries for 9 yards) when things went from ugly to hideous.
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Washington chased down Wyoming’s Brian Hill at the end of an 89-yard run early in the fourth quarter, which turned out to be the last time Hill touched the ball during his record-setting evening. The Cowboys scored on the next play, from the 2, but the effort was noted.
Another reason I’m highlighting Waller and Washington is that neither are in their final year of college eligibility.
There’s a good chance both will be wearing Bulldogs uniforms in 2015.
Now that two bright spots have been identified — no, you won’t be ladled any technically-they’re-still-bowl-eligible mumbo gumbo — it’s time to assess the wreckage. Because there’s plenty of it, strewn all over the place.
From Fresno State’s perspective, the five-alarm fire has to be how Wyoming showed up so much more prepared and motivated.
This was a Bulldogs team that, last we saw, had a chance to beat Boise State on the blue turf before petering out late. Coaches and players had two weeks to prepare for the Cowboys, but by the looks of it some of them used the extra time to get a head start on the offseason.
Wyoming is no juggernaut. The Cowboys came in missing more starters than you have fingers and on a four-game skid to boot.
Consider how Wyoming spent its previous three Saturdays: Losing a 10-point game at Hawaii. Losing an overtime game at home against San Jose State. Losing a 14-point game at Colorado State, arguably the Mountain West Conference’s most physical outfit.
None of that mattered. The Cowboys entered Bulldog Stadium with a game plan that emphasized their strengths and exploited Fresno State’s weaknesses. One the players believed in, obviously, and executed to perfection.
First-year coach Craig Bohl, who won three successive FCS titles at North Dakota State, sometimes gets compared to Pat Hill. Both run pro-style offenses and favor a physical ground game.
Watching Wyoming line up with two tight ends and a fullback, then hand the ball off to a north-south back (with the last name of Hill) and create gaping holes in the secondary through play action made it abundantly clear.
That Fresno State surrendered 694 yards to a pro-style offense that came in averaging 343 should come as little surprise. The Bulldogs have been gashed by spread offenses and option offenses, too. Heck, I wouldn’t like their chances right now against the single wing.
Every week, we hear from DeRuyter and defensive coordinator Nick Toth about how Fresno State is working on its tackling fundamentals and run fits. And every week, they go out and provide additional evidence to the contrary.
This time, it wasn’t a case of standing pat. After Wyoming tied the game 7-7 with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that included two third-down conversions, Toth benched some of his starting linebackers and inserted freshmen Xavier Ulutu, Tobenna Okeke and sophomore Jeff Camilli.
The result was a 14-play, 92-yard Cowboys touchdown drive with two more third-down conversions.
When DeRuyter and Toth arrived in 2012, their calling card was an aggressive defense that forced turnovers and piled up sacks. The turnaround was astounding.
Since then, it’s been a bumpy ride. I’m talking bumps you normally see on the Dusy-Ershim OHV trail. And this year there are no Derek Carr shock absorbers.
Once this season ends, and by all indications that day will come before we flip the calendar to December, DeRuyter must evaluate his entire defensive operation. That includes coaching, personnel and scheme, plus how his coaches coach the scheme and how his personnel fits it.
There should be no standing pat, because the status quo should be unacceptable.
If it’s taken this long to bring up Zack Greenlee, that just illustrates how little a factor he was Saturday night.
Greenlee looked every bit like a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first college start, which should muzzle any outsized expectations. He’ll get better. He’ll learn how to not pay so much attention to the pass rush, to keep his eyes downfield and not get flushed out of the pocket too soon.
Greenlee threw a couple nice passes and made a couple nice runs. Just not enough to keep the chains moving. And when offensive coordinator Dave Schramm turned back to Brian Burrell in the fourth quarter, it revealed how the switch to Greenlee was less a passing of the torch and more a grasping at straws.
The 45-17 final score surely raised eyebrows, and probably caused a few smirks, around the MW. The champ has been dethroned, and it was an ignominious end. The Bulldogs’ final three opponents will take the field smelling blood.
Too many areas that need fixing, not the least of which is confidence. Fresno State will need to muster every ounce of character not just to have a chance to win again, but to avoid further humiliation.