Fresno State Football

Fresno State football: O-line seeks consistency after up-and-down first two weeks

After receiving praise for its play in the opener against USC, Fresno State's offensive line got manhandled at Utah.

The Bulldogs gave up seven sacks and saw Utah defenders rack up a total of 13 tackles for loss in last week's 59-27 thumping that dropped Fresno State to 0-2.

Statistically, it matched the line's worst showing in coach Tim DeRuyter's two-plus years at Fresno State. The Bulldogs surrendered similar numbers of negative plays in a 43-10 loss to Southern Methodist at the 2012 Hawaii Bowl.

The position group figures to face another stern test Saturday night when Nebraska (2-0) visits Bulldog Stadium for the 7:30 p.m. home opener.

"Clearly, we've got to get better," DeRuyter said. "I think we've got the right guys in there. But we've got to get better."

A home game should help some after crowd noise led to miscommunication in Utah.

On one sack, quarterback Brian Burrell was taken down after the ball was snapped on the wrong count. A couple of Utah defensive linemen rushed by the right side of the offensive line nearly untouched.

"The crowd was going crazy and when they're loud it's hard to communicate," senior right guard Cody Wichmann said. "Inexcusable, but it's something we can correct. We prepared for it. But things just didn't go our way."

Fresno State's attempt to cut-block Utah defenders on another drive went nowhere as the Utes again corralled Burrell behind the line.

Burrell didn't help matters on a couple of other plays by standing flat-footed in the pocket. He was sacked four times overall.

Brandon Connette was sacked three times. The Bulldogs lost 26 yards on one play after a snap sailed over Connette's head and nearly resulted in a safety.

"We just need to concentrate more, focus on the little things," Wichmann said. "It's not like we're having blown assignments. It was technique and communication that's cost us."

Nebraska has just two sacks but returned seven players from last year's defense that generated 39. The Cornhuskers, however, have played without top defensive end Randy Gregory, out with a knee injury.

Gregory, who had 10.5 sacks last year, is listed as probable for Saturday, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

"The key is we're going to need to be really physical," Wichmann said. "We're going to do our normal stuff, maybe add a couple new plays in. But we're going to stick to our game plan, try to execute it better and just key on our blocking assignments better and we should improve."

  Comments