Fresno State went through a week of much more competitive practices between a loss at Toledo and a 48-41 overtime loss to Tulsa on Saturday at Bulldog Stadium, and given the results coach Tim DeRuyter said it would be more of the same this week as they head into Mountain West play.
“The reason we got better this week is because we competed against each other,” DeRuyter said. “When you’re a young team, that’s what you have to do. The thing that’s encouraging as a coach is our guys embraced that and they saw the results of that (Saturday).
“Now, we have to play smarter and we have to finish, but our guys know that we can play with a lot of good football teams if we prepare the way we’re supposed to.”
In the past two weeks, Fresno State has allowed 344 rushing yards in a loss to Tulsa and 318 in a loss at Toledo. It is the first time the Bulldogs have allowed back-to-back 300-yard rushing games since 2007 when Texas A&M had 318 and Oregon had 307.
Finishing will be a key when the Bulldogs head to UNLV for their conference opener.
Obviously, they didn’t in blowing a 31-point lead against the Golden Hurricane, giving up 580 yards and 48 points after the first quarter while generating 328 yards and scoring 20 points.
But the harder week of practice played large, especially at the start.
“We were flying around during practice and we were holding each other accountable, which is something we hadn’t been doing,” inside (Will) linebacker Jeff Camilli said. “That’s just something we have to continue doing no matter how sore we are, how bad were hurt. We have to keep pushing in practice because obviously that made a huge difference.”
Sitting out – Fresno State outside linebacker Brandon Hughes and kicker Jimmy Camacho did not play in the first half due to suspensions coming out of the loss at Toledo.
We were flying around during practice and we were holding each other accountable, which is something we hadn’t been doing.
Fresno State inside linebacker Jeff Camilli
Hughes got into the game in the third quarter and was in on three tackles including two of the Bulldogs’ season-high nine tackles for loss. Camacho did not play, the kickoffs handled by Nick Van Valkenburg.
“We had a couple of players that didn’t play because of internal disciplinary reasons” DeRuyter said. “It’s over. There has to be accountability and they served their accountability, what they owed. We’re moving on.”
Aftermath – Chason Virgil on the Bulldogs’ mood after blowing a 31-0 lead: “It was a pissed-off feeling from everybody because we know we should have won that game. We just let it slip right away from us. It’s a pissed-off feeling from guys in the locker room but it’s a feeling that we need to have. Guys are going to come back (to practice Sunday) ready to go.”
In the zone – Virgil the past week ran the offense in practice when in its live run drill, getting a better look at the zone read game and his part in it. He made some deft pulls against the Golden Hurricane and ended up rushing for 47 yards and two touchdowns, the first on a zone read and the second on an option play.
Jamire Jordan caught six passes for 108 yards and one touchdown, the third time in four games the Bulldogs have had a 100-yard receiver. They had just one last season and three in 2014.
“I felt good,” he said. “My body feels good. I just tried to do what I had to do to help the team out and put us in position to win. It really wasn’t going to matter whether my body felt good or not. I’m still going to fight for those guys. I love those guys. Just being able to run a little more I think it helped us offensively, so we just have to find ways to keep doing that.”
Et cetera – The Bulldogs had a season-high nine tackles for loss, led by Camilli and Hughes with 2.0 each. Inside linebackers Robert Stanley and Nela Otukolo, outside linebackers James Bailey and Tobenna Okeke and nose guard Malik Forrester all had one.
▪ Running back Dejonte O’Neal was being checked for a possible knee injury after the game. His status will be updated Sunday. The position group obviously has had a rough go going back to spring practices. The Bulldogs have had six running backs go down for the season or an extended period starting with Bryson Oglesby (knee) and Wesley Hill (knee) in the spring.
The Bulldogs also lost Justin Rice (foot), Deonte Perry (knee), Dontel James (knee) and Saevion Johnson (hamstring) for periods in fall camp.
Oglesby has been cleared to return to practice and did some live work last week. The Bulldogs were pointing to a possible return for the conference opener at UNLV.
Johnson also has been practicing and could get into the mix.
▪ Tulsa had 34 first downs, 22 rushing and 10 passing, the most allowed by the Bulldogs since USC had 37 in the 2014 season opener, a 52-13 Trojans’ victory.
Bulldogs-Golden Hurricane: By the numbers
- 31 – Point comeback by Tulsa, its largest in school history.
- 580 – Yards gained by Tulsa on 80 plays after the first quarter, 7.3 yards per play.
- 3 – Three-and-outs for the Bulldogs defense in the first quarter; they had two in 16 series last week in loss at Toledo.
- 8 – Times in the past 14 games Fresno State had scored 21 or fewer points; the Bulldogs scored 21 in the first quarter.
- 14.5 – Tackles by inside (Will) linebacker Jeff Camilli, a career high.
- 9 – Tackles for loss by the Bulldogs, a season high.
- 189 – Plays run in the game, 100 of them by Tulsa.
- 18 – Rushing plays of at least 10 yards for Tulsa with a long of 31 yards.
- 6.8 – Average yards gained by the Golden Hurricane on first down.
- 88.9 – Completion percentage by Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans on third down (8 of 9).
Tulsa 48, Fresno State 41
FRE — Jordan 44 fumble recovery (Kroening kick), 13:34
FRE — Virgil 14 run (Kroening kick), 9:54
FRE — James 2 run (Kroening kick), 4:10
FRE — FG Kroening 25, 11:45
FRE — Jordan 65 pass from Virgil (Kroening kick), 10:32
TSA — Hobbs 23 pass from Evans (R.Jones kick), 9:04
TSA — Lucas 40 pass from Evans (R.Jones kick), 6:54
TSA — Lucas 40 pass from Evans (R.Jones kick), 4:26
FRE — FG Kroening 25, 8:16
TSA — Atkinson 24 pass from Evans (R.Jones kick), 5:07
TSA — Flanders 2 run (R.Jones kick), 13:42
TSA — FG R.Jones 37, 8:25
FRE — Virgil 1 run (Van Valkenburg kick), 5:06
TSA — FG R.Jones 28, 1:13
TSA — Evans 18 run (R.Jones kick), :00
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Tulsa, Brewer 46-252, Flanders 13-101, Lucas 2-8, R.Taylor 1-0, Evans 6-(minus 17). Fresno St., James 21-65, Virgil 19-47, Jordan 0-44, O’Neal 4-21.
PASSING—Tulsa, Evans 22-32-1-273. Fresno St., Virgil 21-45-1-276.
RECEIVING—Tulsa, Atkinson 10-107, Lucas 6-103, Hobbs 5-64, Brewer 1-(minus 1). Fresno St., KeeS.Johnson 7-80, Jordan 6-108, Peck 6-68, Olsen 2-20.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Tulsa, R.Jones 42.