Fresno State has suspended one football starter and two key backups for the Dec. 24 Hawaii Bowl due to a violation of athletic department policy, sources confirmed to The Bee.
Junior defensive end Maurice Poyadue and freshman inside linebackers Xavier Ulutu and Michael Lazarus will not play in the game against Rice. Backup inside receiver Myles Carr also was suspended for the game. The Bulldogs on Friday left for Hawaii after a brief walk-through practice.
Poyadue has started the past seven games for the Bulldogs and this season has been in on 23 tackles including 14 solo stops and one behind the line of scrimmage. Fresno State has capable backups at end in junior Claudell Louis and redshirt freshman Nate Madsen, but the depth is much trickier at the inside linebacker positions without the two freshmen in the mix.
Ulutu and Lazarus were Nos. 2 and No. 3 on the depth chart at the inside "Mike" linebacker spot behind senior Karl Mickelsen, and without them the Bulldogs will either have to play Mickelsen an extended number of plays at Mike or have sophomore Jeff Camilli, the backup at the "Will" linebacker position, back up at both positions.
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The Bulldogs (6-7) are coming off one of their best defensive games of the season in a 28-14 loss to Boise State in the Mountain West Conference championship game, limiting the Broncos to 304 yards total offense and a season-low 11 first downs.
Fresno State has improved significantly over the past four games, allowing only 23.2 points per game in victories over San Jose State, Nevada and Hawaii and the loss to Boise State after allowing 36.8 over its first nine games. The rushing yards allowed is down to 142.0 from 235.8 over that same stretch, and the total yards are down to 361.5 from 497.2.