Fresno State

Fresno State vs. Colorado State preview: TV, tickets and did the ‘Dogs find some run game answers?

Fresno State churned out 260 rushing yards at 7.2 yards per play in its victory over UNLV, both season-high marks.

To get there, the Bulldogs needed some option runs by quarterback Jorge Reyna and another big shot from wideout Jalen Cropper, who took a sweep 82 yards, the longest run in the Mountain West this season. But in that 56-27 victory over the Rebels, the Bulldogs might also have found some answers up front with Netane Muti out for the season with a foot injury.

The Bulldogs started freshman Bula Schmidt at left guard and got redshirt freshman Jace Fuamatu into the game in the second quarter and into the second half.

After a sluggish start, they had success in the red zone, which had been a problem the first five games – the Bulldogs went in averaging barely 2.0 yards per rushing play inside an opponent’s 20-yard line. Ronnie Rivers had a 7-yard run, as well as an 11-yard run from the UNLV 23. Josh Hokit had touchdown runs of 1, 1 and 6 yards and another red zone run for 6 yards. Reyna had a 3-yard touchdown run.

The line didn’t allow a sack for the first time this season and there were a season-low two tackles for loss – one coming late in the game when the Bulldogs had their backups on the field.

A Mountain West game on Saturday against Colorado State will be a good place to test that progress – the Rams are ranked 11th of 12 in the conference in rushing defense, allowing 5.2 yards per play and 220.7 yards per game.

FRS_dogfootunlvingame2
Fresno State quarterback Jorge Reyna throws after being forced out of the pocket by the UNLV defense during their game at Fresno State’s Bulldog Stadium on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

But there’s still work to do.

While the Bulldogs feasted on some short fields and rushed for six touchdowns against UNLV, their top two backs have combined to rush for 4.1 yards per play (Rivers 76 for 304 and Hokit 36 for 159).

That is the lowest in the Mountain West for any tandem of top two running backs.

Against the Rebels, who went in ranked 10th in the conference in rushing defense, Rivers had 14 carries for 51 yards and Hokit had seven for 33.

Also, the explosive-play ability appears elsewhere. Here are Fresno State’s rushing plays of 20 or more yards:

3 – Jalen Cropper, 82 yards, 79, 25

2 – Jorge Reyna, 40, 21

2 – Ronnie Rivers, 26, 22

1 – Cam Sutton, 27

(Hokit doesn’t have any)

Six games in, the most yards produced by a Fresno State running back in a game is 76 by Rivers against Minnesota. The last time the Bulldogs went through a season without a running back rushing for 100 or more yards in a game was in 2000 – the high that year was by Josh Levi, who rushed for 93 yards on 20 carries in a victory over Hawaii.

The details: how to watch and more

When: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.

Where: Bulldog Stadium, (40,727)

TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick and Ryan Leaf) Comcast (420, 788), AT&T Uverse (606, 1605), DirecTV (208), Dish (141)

Radio: 940AM/ESPN (Paul Loeffler, Pat Hill and Cameron Worrell)

Records: Bulldogs 3-3, 1-1 MW, Rams 2-5, 1-2

Series: Colorado State leads 9-5

Most recent meetings:

2016 – Colorado State 37-0

2015 Colorado State 34-31

2012 – Bulldogs 28-7

2008 – Colorado State 40-35

2006 – Colorado State 35-23

Vegas line: Bulldogs -14.5

Weather: low 80s and sunny, cooling off by kickoff; low 70s by around 8 p.m.; light breeze

Tickets to future Bulldogs home games: gobulldogs.com/559-278-DOGS (3647) or any ticket-resale site. Single-game tickets start at $27. Go to the Fresno State website for details about promotions and pregame and in-game activities.

What’s up at Colorado State?

The Rams made a significant investment in football in hiring Mike Bobo and doubling down with an extension in 2018 after three straight consistent seasons.

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Colorado State running back Marvin Kinsey Jr. celebrates scoring a touchdown on a run against Fresno State in the Rams 37-0 victory over the Bulldogs Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Fort Collins, Colo. David Zalubowski AP

Colorado State went 7-6 three years in a row with a 5-3 record in conference play and a bowl loss in each season, and gave Bobo an extension through 2022 that started at $1.8 million a year and goes up to $2.2 million in the final year of the deal.

But since Bobo signed that extension, the Rams have won just five games. They went 3-9 a year ago and are off to a 2-5 start this season with victories over FCS Western Illinois and 2-5 New Mexico.

Colorado State is a much different challenge for Fresno State than UNLV a week ago, though. It has much more balance to its offense and has had some success throwing the football – the Rams rank second in the Mountain West in passing offense in averaging 319.1 yards per game and are not shy about taking shots down the field.

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Fresno State’s Jaron Bryant celebrates a stop against UNLV during their game at Fresno State’s Bulldog Stadium on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

They have hit 11 plays of 40 or more yards, sixth in the nation.

Also, the Rams’ Marvin Kinsey Jr. is leading the conference in rushing, averaging 100.4 yards per game.

When Kinsey was a freshman in 2016, he rushed for 83 yards and one touchdown on 10 plays against the Bulldogs.

Calling out alumni

The Bulldogs will play their Homecoming game on Saturday, though Fresno State alums the past few years have been unclear on the concept.

The average attendance of the past five homecoming games is 30,786.

▪ 2018 vs. Hawaii – 33,659

▪ 2017 vs. New Mexico – 28,090

▪ 2016 vs. San Diego State – 24,731

▪ 2015 vs. Utah State – 30,540

▪ 2014 vs. San Jose State – 36,909

Curiously, the largest crowd in that run in 2014 came when the Bulldogs were on a three-game losing streak and just 3-6 on the season.

Kwami Jones nearing return?

Coach Jeff Tedford said that defensive end Kwami Jones is nearing a return from a back injury.

Jones, who transferred to Fresno State from College of San Mateo for his sophomore season in 2017, could play in any four games down the stretch while retaining a redshirt season and come back in 2020 as a senior.

“He’s moving along well,” Tedford said. “It has been a long recovery for him, but I think he’s getting better each day. That’s another week-to-week situation to where not only does he go through rehab, it’s not just about that, but then you have to get into football shape and all that type of stuff.

“But he’s making progress and we’ll see how it comes in the near-future here, see what happens this week. But hopefully he’s back at some point this year.”

Jones started 10 games for the Bulldogs last season, recording 26 tackles including 2.0 tackles for loss.

Mountain West standings

West

MW

Overall

W

L

W

L

San Diego State

3

1

6

1

Fresno State

1

1

3

3

Hawaii

1

2

4

3

Nevada

1

2

4

3

San Jose State

1

3

3

4

UNLV

0

3

2

5

Mountain

MW

Overall

W

L

W

L

Boise State

3

0

6

1

Utah State

3

0

4

2

Air Force

3

1

5

2

Wyoming

2

1

5

2

Colorado State

1

2

2

5

New Mexico

0

3

2

5

This week

Saturday

Colorado State at Fresno State, 4:30 p.m.

San Jose State at Army, 9 a.m.

Nevada at Wyoming, 11 a.m.

Hawaii at New Mexico, 1 p.m.

Utah State at Air Force, 7:15 p.m.

San Diego State at UNLV, 7:30 p.m.

Fresno State schedule

Aug. 31 lost 31-23 at USC

Sept. 7 lost 38-35 (overtime) vs. Minnesota

Sept. 21 won 34-20 vs. Sacramento State

Sept. 28 won 30-17 at New Mexico State

Oct. 12 lost 43-24 at Air Force

Oct. 18 won 56-27 vs. UNLV

Oct. 26 vs. Colorado State, 4:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

Nov. 2 at Hawaii, 9 p.m. (no broadcast TV)

Nov. 9 vs. Utah STate, 4 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Nov. 15 at San Diego State, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

Nov. 23 vs. Nevada, TBA (ESPN networks)

Nov. 30 at San Jose STate, TBA (ESPN networks)

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

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