With Fresno State starting defensive end Maurice Poyadue among the Bulldogs suspended for the Hawaii Bowl, defensive line coach Pete Germano has been left assessing who will fill in the starting role.
Junior Claudell Louis and redshirt freshman Nate Madsen are in the running to start alongside nose guard Tyeler Davison and opposite Todd Hunt at the other end position against Rice on Wednesday.
Rice coach David Bailiff figures whoever gets the start will continue the trend of improvment shown by position group through the season.
“That’s where I’ve been really impressed with Fresno State’s growth — along the defensive line,” Bailiff said. “They’ve really gotten better as the year’s gone on and become a force.”
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Can the line maintain pressure without Poyadue, a junior who has played in 33 career games?
The 6-foot-4, 292-pound Louis has played in all 13 games this season, albeit sparingly, while making nine tackles. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Madsen also had played in 13 games and started four while making 11 tackles.
Poyadue made eight starts this season, including seven in a row leading into the bowl, and finished with 23 tackles.
Poyadue, true freshmen linebackers Michael Lazarus and Xavier Ulutu, and reserve sophomore inside receiver Myles Carr were suspended for the bowl last week for violating an athletic department policy.