Fresno State (3-8, 2-5 Mountain West) vs. Colorado State (6-5, 4-3)
▪ Saturday: 6 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
▪ TV: CBS Sports Network Comcast 418, DIRECTV 221; Dish 158; AT&T U-verse 643
▪ Radio: KFIG (AM 940); KGST (AM 1600)
▪ Forecast: 47 degrees, clear
Fresno State’s three keys to victory
1 Quarterback play. It would be difficult to start Zack Greenlee after the three interceptions in a loss at BYU, all of which led to Cougars’ touchdowns including a pick-6. Kilton Anderson, however, has thrown five picks in 124 attempts to six in 156 for Greenlee. The choices aren’t the best, but the Bulldogs have to roll somebody out there and see if they can operate the offense without too much error.
2 Manufacture some juice. It has been a tough week for Fresno State, with more players leaving the program and word that offensive coordinator Dave Schramm would not be retained and defensive coordinator Nick Toth replaced or at least reassigned. Attitude has not been the problem for this group yet, and it can’t be on senior day with 18 Bulldogs playing in their final games.
3 Stop the run. Fresno State has been decimated by injuries at inside linebacker, so this is not a good time to match up against a power running team. Colorado State is not as big up front as the BYU team that beat up the Bulldogs last week, but it is a good group and the Rams do not go backward very often. If they go into grind mode, the Bulldogs could have trouble getting off the field.
– Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee
Fresno State player spotlight: Outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine
Hometown/high school: Corona/Santiago
Last week: Against BYU, Ederaine finished with seven tackles in a 52-10 defeat. Ederaine sacked Tanner Mangum for a 5-yard loss in the third quarter and he and Jamal Ellis combined to take down RB Riley Burt 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage in the fourth.
Why this game is important for Ederaine: Ederaine looks to complete his pursuit of the Mountain West tackle-for-loss record, needing three to pass San Diego State’s Miles Burris, who completed his run in 2011. Ederaine has had as many as three twice this season – at San Jose State and vs. UNLV.
He said it: “Another week, obviously our last week, just our final preparation, so I’m not really thinking about (the record) too much. I’m just more focused on preparing. It would be nice, something the team needs … a jolt of good energy, positivity because we all feel it’s been a rough year and things haven’t went the way we would like them to go. I told my teammates, ‘This record may have my name but it’s not just myself.’ I feel this record can be a bright spot for the season, especially on the defensive side.”
– Anthony Galaviz, The Fresno Bee
Tailgating: Bulldogs pregame news and notes
Senior outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine has been asked quite a bit this week about sitting so close to the Mountain West Conference record for career tackles for loss going into the final game of his college career and, philosophically, he likes his chances of getting the 2.5 needed to tie former San Diego State linebacker Miles Burris at 47.
“Everybody is asking me about the 2.5, so I’m thinking the last couple of games I’ve had 1.5 … it’s only one more,” he joked.
But the going doesn’t figure to be too easy for Ederaine and the Bulldogs’ pass rush against Colorado State, which offers a lot of max protect with tight ends and backs in to help protect the quarterback. The numbers will, almost always, be in the Rams’ favor.
Ederaine, however, has been searching for ways into the backfield against a team that is second in the conference in tackles for loss allowed at 4.55 per game and tied with Utah State for third in sacks allowed at 1.27.
“I think this is a really big film week,” he said. “They run a lot of play-action pass and if you can find any key that lets you know when it’s going to be play-action pass, the way the tight end usually releases and the way he releases when it’s play-action pass because they line up and it’s fake block and hold up and the next minute they’re out, if you can find a key that’s a definite way to success.
“With max protect there’s a lot of one-on-ones but there’s a lot of passing off, the tackle is going to pass me off the guard or the back and the tackle and going to combo block me, so getting through those (gaps) when they switch there’s always that window. It’s a feel thing, feeling how long you have. But it comes from just watching a lot of film.”
Coach Tim DeRuyter is “sure (the Rams are) going to have a plan for ’Dro.”
“Last week they got into a bunch of two-back, two-tight end and sometimes had only one receiver down the field,” DeRuyter said. “They do a good job protecting, but it’s in their scheme that they’re not going to put five guys down the field very often so it will be uphill for him to affect the game that way.”
No. 82 – That one receiver working up the field most likely will be Rashard Higgins, who has caught 65 passes this season for 909 yards and eight touchdowns.
“I think he’s as good a receiver as there is in this league,” DeRuyter said. “We didn’t play Boise State this year and I know they have a good one (Thomas Sperbeck) up there, too. But he has made huge plays.
“He’s long, he’s competitive and he has good speed. Our guys are going to know where No. 82 is on the field but everybody has and he still has been effective.”
Colorado State is second in the Mountain West with 38 passing plays of 20 or more yards, an area where Fresno State has struggled. The Bulldogs have allowed 35, ranking 11th of 12 in the conference.
Mr. 3,000 – Senior Marteze Waller will be looking to move up on the Bulldogs’ career rushing list.
Waller not only is 4 yards shy of becoming the fifth running back in school history with 3,000 or more yards, he is 22 from passing Michel Pittman (3,017 yards from 1993-97) for fourth all-time at Fresno State.
Et cetera – Fresno State will be honoring 18 players on senior day. The group that went 19-5 at home over the past four seasons, won two Mountain West Conference championships and one other West Division title.
▪ The Bulldogs are 3-0 on senior day under DeRuyter, winning by an average of 27 points with victories over Air Force (48-15), New Mexico (69-28) and Hawaii (28-21).
▪ The Rams have won three games in a row, at Wyoming, against UNLV and at New Mexico. They scored on their opening drive in all three. Fresno State has held its opponent scoreless on its opening drive in the past four games and five of six. The only score, oddly, was a touchdown by UNLV in a game the Bulldogs won.
▪ Higgins, a junior, holds school records for touchdown receptions (31) and receptions (229) and will go into the game just 139 yards shy of the record for receiving yards. Higgins has 3,496 in his career.
▪ Fresno State has not ended a season with a victory since 2007, when it beat Georgia Tech 40-28 at the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise.
▪ Inside (Will) linebacker Jeff Camilli, who did not play in the loss at BYU because of an upper body injury, remains out.
▪ At BYU last week, linebacker Robert Stanley and safety DeShawn Potts made their first career starts and became the 18th and 19th players to start a game for the Bulldogs defense. Fresno State has had 20 players start on offense.
▪ The Bulldogs, who have been rotating quarterbacks all season because of ineffectiveness and injury, have not passed for 300 yards in a game yet this season. The high is 285 by Zack Greenlee in a victory at Hawaii. The last time they fell short of 300 all year was 2008. The Bulldogs’ quarterback that season was Tom Brandstater, then a senior, and the high game was 296 yards in a 38-35 loss at Louisiana Tech. Brandstater was the only quarterback to throw a pass that season. The Bulldogs this season have played four quarterbacks.
▪ DeRuyter is 29-22 at Fresno State and with a victory against Colorado State would become just the second coach in school history to win 30 or more games in his first four seasons. Cecil Coleman won 33 games from 1959-62.
– Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee