Fresno State won’t play another team as good as Washington for the rest of the season. Which might be the only solace the Bulldogs can take from Saturday night’s 48-16 trouncing at Husky Stadium.
Here are my quick thoughts and takes, formed from the comfort of my own couch:
Beaten up by gantlet, not toughened
After Fresno State didn’t get annihilated by Alabama, one of the narratives being pushed this week was that the Bulldogs were back, well ahead of schedule, and could hang with the Huskies.
It took about half the first quarter to dump that hopeful theory into the wastebin.
This was a not-so-gentle reminder that Jeff Tedford inherited a 1-11 program, with 1-11 talent, and will need time to steer this stagecoach out of the ditch.
It’s also a reality check that Fresno State shouldn’t be playing teams like Alabama and Washington back to back, on the road. Only for the money.
The Bulldogs weren’t toughened up by their trip to Tuscaloosa. They were beaten up. Fresno State came out flat and proved to be no match for the Huskies’ speed and precision.
Considering it was 48-7 barely a minute into the third quarter, the final score could look a lot worse.
Huskies’ onslaught happened quickly
Jake Browning required 1 minute, 48 seconds to get Washington into the end zone. The next Huskies touchdown drive took 2:05. The third took a whopping 8 seconds, and the fourth came on Dante Pettis’ 77-yard punt return.
It was that kind of night for the Bulldogs’ defense against one of the nation’s best passing quarterbacks in Browning and one of the best offensive minds in Huskies coach Chris Petersen. Who is no stranger to whipping Fresno State by lopsided scores.
The Bulldogs’ only hope was to pressure Browning and force Washington into a bevy of third-and-longs.
Neither came close to happening. Fresno State had one sack, a forced fumble by George Helmuth.
Browning finished 19 of 22 for 255 yards and four touchdowns. Then he put down his scalpel.
Virgil starts, McMaryion finishes
When the other team begins the game with five straight touchdowns, there isn’t much a quarterback can do.
Still, this wasn’t a game for Chason Virgil’s highlight reel.
Early on, as was the case last week, Virgil was victimized by drops in two cases where better hands would’ve resulted in first downs. Then it was Virgil’s miscue, hitting Huskies linebacker Tevis Bartlett square in the chest, which helped Washington score two touchdowns in the span of 25 seconds.
Virgil led the Bulldogs’ first touchdown drive, making the score 34-7, but by the time Marcus McMaryion entered early in the third quarter Washington had tacked on two more touchdowns.
With a bye week now separating Fresno State from its Sept. 30 Mountain West opener, the coaching staff has extra time to mull over sticking with Virgil or making a change.
Future foes face own woes
If Bulldogs fans need encouragement, take a glance at this final score: Idaho State 30, Nevada 28.
Uh huh, Fresno State’s opponent in two weeks just lost to an FCS team – at home. And next week, before coming to Bulldog Stadium, the 0-3 Wolf Pack visits Washington State.
Other future opponents also have gotten off to rocky starts. UNLV lost to Howard, for goodness sake. New Mexico lost to New Mexico State and has potential trouble brewing with coach Bob Davie. And if you look into November, Wyoming and BYU don’t look as formidable as previously thought.