Fresno State rushed for 199 yards on 40 plays in its opening rout of Incarnate Word, but struggled to consistently move the ball on the ground, particulary early in the game.
Fixing those issues on Saturday afternoon at No. 1 Alabama? Not an easy task. The Crimson Tide in its opener against Florida State allowed 40 yards on 27 carries – 1.5 yards per play.
“They are,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “the best defense I’ve ever watched on tape, best college defense.
“Against (UIW), it was the first game and we didn’t know what to prepare for, that sort of thing. Alabama, they do some things as well. I’m sure they’ll have some things in their game plan that we’ll need to adjust to, but more than anything it’s going to be our fundamentals and making sure we have a base when we move our feet because they are so fast and so physical.
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“They are so stubborn in the run game. Three-yard gains are good plays against them and consistency in trying to do it is very difficult.”
Third time a charm? – Offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer on quarterback Chason Virgil, who is playing in his third offense in three seasons and working to improve his completion percentage: “His knowledge base is huge when it comes to offensive strategy and scheme. But just familiarity with our offense is something that’s going to continue to develop.”
Backfield rotation – Freshman Ronnie Rivers will start for the second straight week. While rotations at many positions will be cut back – Fresno State at midweek was taking 70 or 71 players to Alabama – running back doesn’t figure to be one of them.
“We’ll play it by ear, depending on how the flow of the game is going, what’s going on,” Tedford said. “We’ve practiced a lot of guys in those positons. It just matters on the flow of the game. We have four backs that are going to be in the rotation.
“There’s no real set number where he has to get 20 carries or anything like that. It’s how the game is going, who’s fresh, what the plays are, all that type of stuff. Going in, you go by feel, how things are going, that’s with all of them, wheether it’s Dejonte (O’Neal) going in or (Jordan) Mims going in or (Josh) Hokit.”
Perfect 10 – Alabama has played 138 games under coach Nick Saban and has held its opponent to 10 points or less 72 times (52.2 percent) including 19 victories by shutout.
Bull update – Freshman Donate Bull, the 6-foot-7, 310-pound offensive tackle, took some reps with the scout team.
Bull joined the team Tuesday and will not play this season. “No chance,” Tedford said. “Way too much to learn. You start from square one.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada