Fresno State wideout Aaron Peck ranks second among the Bulldogs' inside and outside receivers with 24 catches, a bit surprising only because in an up-and-down season that started with three losses, three wins and three more losses before the team's current two-game winning streak, the junior also has been seeking consistency that can be counted on week to week.
He had a huge impact at New Mexico with a career-high six receptions for 83 yards, including an acrobatic grab for a 32-yard gain on a third-and-10 that set up the Bulldogs' first touchdown. And he had a strong game last week at Nevada, catching four passes for 71 yards, including touchdowns of 13 and 26 yards.
He also did not have a single catch in two of the three games before Fresno State trekked to Reno and four times this season he was limited to just one reception.
But if Peck is ready to stack strong games together, the Bulldogs will have a very tough matchup for opposing defenses and another formidable weapon in the passing game.
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"He has got really good potential," coach Tim DeRuyter said. "He has good great size. I don't think he realizes at times how good he can be. He showed flashes of it at New Mexico; last week certainly he made some big plays. We need him to keep progressing, because he has the ability to play at that level.
"There are a lot of things that have to click. For most of them, it's about confidence and the more you play, the more success you have, then the next time you go out you have more confidence. But if the next time you go out you drop some balls, that confidence wanes. He has to get to the point where, one, he doesn't drop it, but, two, if he does you forget it and drive on. You know, Davante (Adams) dropped a bunch of them, but it never affected his confidence. He has to get to that point."
To Peck, it is all a matter of that consistency. "Stacking those (good) games, it's making sure I come out every day and work as hard as I can, figuring out what I can do to improve myself every day so I don't fall into a place of being too comfortable," said Peck, who stayed out on the field after practice Tuesday catching a few extra passes from quarterback Brian Burrell.
That is part of the repertoire, and opportunity should be there Saturday when the Bulldogs try to clinch the Western Division championship in the Mountain West Conference with a victory over Hawaii.
Hawaii tries to get after opposing quarterbacks, bringing pressure, with hit-or-miss results. It has allowed opponents to hit only 57.7% percent of their passes, but still ranks only 10th in the conference in passing defense, allowing 252.8 yards per game through the air.
The Rainbow Warriors have allowed 44 explosive pass plays of 20 or more yards, tied for ninth in the Mountain West and one more than Fresno State, which adds a bit more perspective. And they have allowed 25 touchdown passes, 11th of 12 in the conference.
"Our whole thing is win the West right now," Peck said. "We fought our way back to this point, so we just have to cut it loose on Saturday and get a win so we can go up to Boise or Colorado (for the conference championship game). ... I'm ready. I can't wait."
Fresno State, which has sold about 29,000 tickets for Saturday's game at Bulldog Stadium, will be holding a Black Friday Sale the day after Thanksgiving.
Details will be released through social media Thursday.
Fresno State will have 20 seniors suiting up for the final time at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday, and 11 of those seniors were signed by coach DeRuyter and his staff, which points up some of the difficulties in the lack of depth and balance between classes they have dealt with while also switching offensive and defensive schemes.
And, of course, winning back-to-back conference championships.
Their first recruiting class was put together quickly — DeRuyter was hired Dec. 14, 2011, his staff came aboard in early January and signing day that year was Feb. 1 — and they have been able to go through two full recruiting cycles in the classes of 2013-14.
They still are a bit short of ideal.
"Next year is another year that I don't think we're going to have a ton of seniors, and after that year it hopefully will be balanced out the way we want it balanced," DeRuyter said.
"It's getting closer to what we want on our blueprint. We're excited about that. We're excited about our younger classes. It's difficult to come in and switch systems and have everything work perfectly, so we're kind of shifting a little bit and we're in the midst of that. But no matter where you go, defensive line and corners are always positions where it's difficult to find guys who are true difference makers. That's why you have to look in multiple places to get those guys."
Hawaii to test if Burrell's arrived
Burrell has hit 62.5% of his passes over the past two games for an average of 260 yards per game and seven touchdowns, but faces another dicey test against Hawaii.
"He's doing a really good job right now," offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said. "Now, this team we're about to play, they're a lot more multiple than Reno so we have to make sure we're doing our extra study in the film room, which he'll do, because he's a grinder. He likes that part of the game. But these guys are a lot more multiple with their fronts and their coverages and their blitz schemes than anybody we've played probably to this point."
Running back Marteze Waller, who was held out of the last three quarters of the Bulldogs' victory at Nevada after absorbing a helmet to helmet hit, has seen practice time this week.
In the past two games, Waller has rushed for 191 yards on 28 plays despite not playing even three full quarters of football. He rushed for 145 yards on 22 plays in the victory over San Jose State, exiting late in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. And he had 46 yards on six plays at Nevada before he was removed after just two series.
Tight end Jerin McClendon also is back with the team. He was out last week, suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.