My instant thoughts and analysis from Fresno State’s 41-21 spanking of Nevada on Saturday night at Bulldog Stadium in both teams’ Mountain West opener.
McMaryion era launches
The coaching staff did its best to keep a lid on things, but by kickoff Saturday night word was out that Marcus McMaryion had supplanted Chason Virgil as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback.
Looks like a pretty wise decision.
Showing poise, patience and accuracy, McMaryion led the Fresno State offense to its most productive showing against an FBS opponent in quite a while. Maybe even since No. 4 lined up behind center.
Early on, McMaryion didn’t try to do anything fancy. He simply dropped back, went through his progressions and found the open receiver. Then when Nevada started getting used to the short stuff, the Dinuba native showed accuracy and zip on deep balls to Derrion Grim and KeeSean Johnson.
It was as fine a starting debut as anyone on the home sideline could’ve asked for: 24 of 32 for 296 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Oregon State transfer did most of his damage the first half, completing 20 of 23 passes for 260 yards.
Two of the incompletions were drops by the receivers. The third was a smart throwaway after McMaryion got flushed from the pocket on third down.
Appears like the Bulldogs’ quarterback quandary has been solved, at least for now.
Bulldogs give notice
Much has been made of Fresno State’s long winless spell (687 days, to be precise) against FBS opponents – as it should.
But now that the Bulldogs finally have one to their credit, for the first time since the 2015, it’s only natural to wonder how many they can rack up against a weakened Mountain West Conference.
Judging by how San Jose State has fared this season (the Spartans lost 41-13 at UNLV on Saturday after losing 61-10 to Utah State the week before), a 2-0 start in conference play seems a likely possibility.
Then comes New Mexico, which has bounced back with consecutive wins following a 1-2 start. Still, there’s every indication Fresno State could be 3-0 heading into an Oct. 21 showdown at nationally ranked San Diego State.
Which would be quite a turnaround for a program that went 1-11 last season.
No Derek, no full house
Anyone who assumed the return of Jeff Tedford to the Fresno State sidelines would automatically cause fans to pack Bulldog Stadium just like the good ol’ days might want to think again.
Not unless Derek Carr and Paul George are in the house.
Despite a glorious evening, 82 degrees at kickoff, Saturday’s announced attendance was 28,434. That’s 11,000 and change fewer than turned out for the sweltering Sept. 2 opener when Fresno State retired Carr’s jersey in a halftime ceremony.
But you know how fans are. If the Bulldogs keep it going next week at San Jose State, attendance for the next home game (Oct. 14 vs. New Mexico) should surge past 30,000.
Muddy mess covered up
Two gigantic tarpaulins covered up any evidence of the broken irrigation pipe that left the stadium ramp and the south end zone a muddy mess.
One covered the closed section 38, which was is usually occupied by the marching band. The other covered a large hole in a nearby cement slope that got the worst of the flooding.
School officials said the tarps were provided by radio station owner and former Bulldog Chris Pacheco, who also owns the local sign and banner company Mega-Prints.
New FieldTurf was installed in the south end zone prior to kickoff, replacing a section that was unplayable.