Fresno State quarterback Kilton Anderson has not played in enough games or thrown enough passes to be ranked among the conference leaders, and those numbers aren’t close to spectacular anyway. In three games and two starts, he has completed 55.8 percent (29 of 52) of his passes for 305 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. His passing efficiency rating is 99.85.
But the sophomore is 1-1 as a starter and made some significant strides in the victory over UNLV. The most impressive thing, offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said, has been his toughness on the field.
“He’s just such a gritty, tough guy,” Schramm said. “All of the things we talk about on offense is attitude and effort and tough guys win. If you believe in that, good things are going to happen. If you have a good attitude and you give great effort and you’re a tough guy, you can overcome a lot of things.”
Schramm pointed to the first of two touchdowns that Anderson scored against UNLV, a six-yard run in the first quarter that tied the score at 7-7 on a play that was poorly executed in a number of different ways.
“It was a completely busted play on his part, from the snap count to moving the back to the whole thing, and yet he found a way to run their middle linebacker over at the 4-yard line and score,’’ he said.
“Guys will follow that. Guys in the trenches, guys that are blocking outside, guys that are running the football, they see stuff like that and they go, ‘You know what, this guy, he gives us a chance. He’s a tough guy.’ Sometimes he’s not doing it the right way, but, still, that’s where it all starts and that’s the way he has always been. He has always had that competitive toughness, and he’ll be challenged again this week and even more so with the team that we’re playing.”
Anderson became the first Fresno State quarterback since Derek Carr in a 2013 victory over Rutgers to lead the Bulldogs to a fourth-quarter comeback victory.
The Bulldogs trailed UNLV by 11 entering the fourth quarter before scoring two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes on a 12-yard run by Anderson with 11:02 to go and a 38-yard run by Marteze Waller with 2:37 remaining. In the victory over Rutgers, the Bulldogs were down 31-28 entering the fourth quarter and trailed 38-35 and 45-38 before coming back to tie the score with 38 seconds remaining and win 52-51 in overtime.
Et cetera – After racking up 410 yards of offense against the Rebels, Fresno State still is averaging only 294.7 yards per game and is one of only five teams in the nation averaging less than 300. The Bulldogs are ranked 125th of 128, ahead of Missouri (290.4), Hawaii (289.0) and Central Florida (254.4).
▪ Air Force is 39-14 at home under coach Troy Calhoun and has won its past nine games at Falcon Stadium. It has yet to trail this season in home games against Morgan State, San Jose State and Wyoming, winning by an average of 30.3 points.
▪ The Bulldogs go into every game with five goals, the first obviously is to win the game and the others are tied to percentages in ball security, run efficiency, red-zone touchdown production and third-down production. They hit four of five against UNLV – the first time this season they have hit more than two, which Schramm said is something to build on. “I was really proud of our young guys, and I’ve said all year how good our young players are,” he said. “We have really good young players and it takes time to grow up. To be down by two scores in the fourth quarter and, I don’t know if they just have the grit or they’re just not old enough to know that they were down by two scores, they just kept playing. It didn’t matter. The message was, ‘Hey, you keep competing,’ and they did until the end. I’m just proud of the way the whole team went about it. Senior leadership kind of kept them all together on the sideline and we kept battling. It’s a great thing to build on at this point.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Up next for the ’Dogs
Fresno State at Air Force
- Saturday: 11 a.m. at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs
- Records: Bulldogs 2-5, 1-2 Mountain West; Falcons 3-3, 2-1
- Online TV: ESPN3
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)