Fresno State Football

No doubt, Bulldogs changing perception by the week … and by the win

Fresno State’s Juju Hughes tackles San Diego State’s Juwan Washington during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. Hughes and the Bulldogs held the Aztecs to 255 total yards in a 27-3 victory.
Fresno State’s Juju Hughes tackles San Diego State’s Juwan Washington during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. Hughes and the Bulldogs held the Aztecs to 255 total yards in a 27-3 victory. SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE

It was solid, a no-doubter.

Fresno State beat up San Diego State 27-3 on Saturday at SDCCU Stadium, taking a strong hold on first place in the West Division of the Mountain West.

The Bulldogs are now 5-2 and 4-0 in the conference, and those two losses came at No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 6 Washington.

Those scores were 41-10 and 48-16, and San Diego State coach Rocky Long believes it would be different now.

“I think it says something about the quality of some of the teams in the conference,” Long said. “I think that the top four or five teams in the conference can play against anybody and play well. I mean, before Fresno State got their run going and got their system established one offense and defense they hung in there with Alabama and they hung in there with Washington.

“I bet you it would be a completely different game right now with the way they’re playing. I bet you they could play real well against them right now, a lot better than Tennessee did.”

Alabama routed the Volunteers on Saturday, 45-7. Tennessee had seven first downs and gained a total of 108 yards. It was 1 of 12 trying quite feebly to convert third downs.

The Bulldogs at Alabama had 18 first downs, 273 yards of offense and was 3 of 11 moving the chains on third down. 

What did he say? – Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford: “The defensive staff is doing a great job, led by Orlondo Steinauer. The players are playing really hard, playing physical. That’s a tough offense right there and to be able to stop the run and try to make them one-dimensional, that always helps when you can play a team game and get a lead.

“Then it turns them into somebody that they don’t really want to be – and that’s throwing the football. I thought we pressured the passer really well, too. We put some heat on him and didn’t let him sit back there. Excellent job by our defense.”

San Diego State wideout Mikah Holder: “It has been a while for this type of game so it’s a little embarrassing. It’s something that can’t happen with us. We got to put the ball in the end zone at least once, especially at home.”

Fresno State center Aaron Mitchell: “I’ve been saying this is a home game since the beginning of the week. I’m from here. (Christian) Cronk is from here. A lot of guys are from around here. I said it before the game, this is a home game, no doubt. The last time playing here as a senior, it’s hitting me. I love it here, but I’m a Bulldog.”

Fresno State linebacker Jeffrey Allison: “We just wanted to play together. (Steinauer) has been talking about it. We have a pretty good defense. We have some things to work on. But they have a great offense. (Rashaad) Penny is a great running back so in practice we basically focused on the run game and tried to get them out of their run game and tried to get them to pass. They’re not really a passing team. That was the main focus.”

Allison, on allowing three points over the past eight quarters: “That’s a great feeling. The only thing we do is try to capitalize and get better at it. Three points, we kept them down to three points, that’s great. But our goal is to keep every school off the board if we can.”

Offensive line coach Ryan Grubb on the Bulldogs’ line play: “Disciplined eyes and bent knees. Honestly, the guys did an awesome job all week. As long as we were able to stay disciplined on taking care of the movement we knew that we were big enough physically to move them and that really is what we did. It was well executed.” 

By the numbers – Fresno State ran 54 plays and did not allow a tackle for a loss for the first time since a 42-29 loss at Nebraska on Sept. 10, 2011.

The Bulldogs allowed only one tackle for loss last week in a 38-0 shutout of New Mexico and went to San Diego State second in the conference in allowing just four per game.

Colorado State was leading the conference at 3.8 TFLs allowed per game.

▪ 12: San Diego State had won 12 in a row against West Division opponents.

▪ 19.1: Fresno State allowed San Diego State to drive 83 yards on its first possession, getting off the field when Allison forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Mike Bell.

The Aztecs generated only 172 yards on their nine possession rest of the way, going three and out five times. They averaged 19.1 yards on those drives.

▪ 4.1: Yards per play for San Diego State, its lowest since a 2015 loss at Penn State.

▪ 4: Explosive pass plays of 20 or more yards for the Bulldogs, bringing their season total to 31, third in the Mountain West.

▪ 57: Yards on five kickoff returns against the Bulldogs’ kickoff cover team. The Aztecs started those drives at their 8, 19, 23, 10 and 35 after a return for no yards.

▪ 17.6: Yards per completion for Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion. In the first three road games of the season, he had averaged 8.9 and had an efficiency rating of only 107.16.

▪ 17.6: Points allowed per game by the Bulldogs. Last season, Fresno State was ranked seventh in the Mountain West allowing 30.9 points per game.

▪ 80.70: Passing efficiency rating for San Diego State. Fresno State has held three teams to a rating in the 80s this season. Incarnate Word was 83.94 and San Jose State 86.34. The 80.70 is the lowest by the defense against an FBS team since San Diego State’s 63.98 in 2014. Fresno State won that game 24-13. 

Rivers not flowing – Freshman running back Ronnie Rivers, who injured his right elbow in the win over New Mexico, went through pregame warm ups but did not play.

Freshman Jordan Mims carried 21 times for 112 yards, both career highs, and sophomore Josh Hokit 14 times for 77 yards and three touchdowns.

The Bulldogs rushed for 199 yards on 38 plays, or 5.2 yards per play.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada

Up next

UNLV AT FRESNO STATE

  • Saturday: 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium (41,031)
  • Records: Bulldogs 5-2, 4-0 Mountain West; Rebels 2-5, 1-3
  • TV/radio: AT&T, ROOT (AT&T UVerse 757, 1757; DirecTV 684)//KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
  • Of note: The Rebels lost at home to Utah State on Saturday, 52-28, after starting quarterback Armani Rogers was knocked out of the game with a head injury. UNLV has now allowed an average of 42.3 points over its past three games. … The Aggies rolled up 578 yards of total offense, 323 passing and 255 rushing. They converted 8 of 14 third downs, taking advantage of a soft spot in the UNLV defense. … The Rebels entered having allowed opponents to convert on 44.2 percent of their third downs, ranking 10th in the Mountain West. … UNLV does have one of the top running backs in the conference in Lexington Thomas, who racked up 161 yards and two touchdowns against Utah State and is averaging 125.3 yards per game with 12 rushing touchdowns.
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