If you wondered how committed Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford was to his quarterback Chason Virgil, go ahead and stop for now.
The Bulldogs’ sophomore got the start against No. 1 Alabama, and did not get punitively pulled when the game got out of hand in a 41-10 loss to the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
The Tim DeRuyter-era holdover wasn’t benched when he missed big on no less than three third-down throws, and he didn’t get pulled in the second quarter when he was shaken up on a sack/fumble before halftime.
Put another way, if Oregon State transfer Marcus McMaryion is going to win the job, it will have to wait for another day. McMaryion replaced Virgil in the opener against Incarnate Word, but that second-half move had much more to do with the lopsided nature of the 66-0 victory than anything else.
Against Alabama, Tedford let Virgil play through some struggles against a historically tough Alabama defense, and Virgil rewarded him with a few flashes between errant passes.
One play in particular – facing a seven-man blitz up the middle, Virgil rolled out and found Jamire Jordan on the sideline for a 7-yard throw on third-and-5 to open the fourth quarter.
Virgil used his mobility, and better-than-expected protection from the offensive line, to avoid any sacks or turnovers for the first three quarters. His first sack and interception came on the same drive, the second of the fourth quarter, when the quarterback pressure became overwhelming.
For the game, Virgil went 21 for 34 for 180 yards and a touchdown – a 26-yard pass to Derrion Grim with 6:06 to play. McMaryion came on late and was 5 of 7 for 36 yards.
Streaks live – Jordan’s 7-yard catch extended his streak to 26 straight games with at least one reception, tied for 11th in the nation.
Teammate KeeSean Johnson caught a pass for the 24th consecutive game.
Rivers rising – True freshman Ronnie Rivers made his second start at running back, rushing eight times for 26 yards in the first half.
His longest run – for 9 yards – gave a glimpse of his power and speed as he stutter-stepped into a cut against the defense for extra yardage.
The running game was limited in the second half given the deficit, and Rivers had just one more carry for 3 yards.
Go-to guy – Senior wide receiver Da’Mari Scott had a career-high seven catches for 67 yards, using his inside position to take advantage of quick throws in the range of a depleted Alabama linebackers corp.
He also had a 63-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter to set up the offense at the Alabama 37.
He’s everywhere – Sophomore linebacker Jeffrey Allison set a career high in tackles by the end of third quarter, when he had a game-high 14, half of which were solo stops.
For context, he had eight solo tackles and 21 overall tackles in 12 starts last season as a true freshman.
Reunion day – Fresno State radio analyst Pat Hill, the former Bullldogs coach, visited with Alabama coach Nick Saban on the field during pregame warm-ups.
The tie that binds: Both worked under Bill Belichick on the Cleveland Browns staff in the ’90s before the NFL franchise fired everyone and moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season.
Hill and Saban faced off once as coaches when Fresno State lost to Saban and Michigan State, 44-35, in the 2001 Silicon Valley Classic.
“We just talked about family, how we’re doing,” Hill said. “He’s doing a phenomenal job, obviously.”
Red Wave – Fresno State sold more than 1,340 of its allotted tickets for Saturday’s game, according to Fresno State Athletic Director Jim Bartko.
Bryant-Denny Stadium is second only to Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium (103,860) in terms of largest stadiums Fresno State has visited.
Anyone, anywhere – Fresno State dropped to 12-32 in games against Power Five schools since 1998. They remain winless in eight tries against current Southeastern Conference teams.
FRESNO STATE AT NO. 7 WASHINGTON
- Saturday: 6:30 p.m. in Seattle
- Records: Bulldogs 1-1, Huskies 2-0
- TV/radio: Pac-12 Network/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
- Of note: After the Bulldogs lost 41-10 at No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, the Huskies routed FCS school Montana 63-7 in their home opener.