It’s game week, Idaho at Fresno State in the season-opener for both teams (7 p.m. Saturday, Bulldog Stadium) and The Bee spotlight is on Bulldogs quarterback Marcus McMaryion.
The Bulldogs are harboring big dreams in 2018, many of them tied to the expectation that the offense will be much more efficient and productive with McMaryion in his second season, with a spring, summer and full fall camp under him.
Fresno State won 10 games last season while ranking only eighth in the Mountain West Conference in scoring offense with 27.1 points per game – and two scores came on interception returns by cornerback Jaron Bryant.
The Bulldogs also were ranked just eighth in the conference in third-down conversions at 35.6 percent and red zone touchdown percentage at 54.7 percent.
“It definitely all starts with him and he’s aware of that,” offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer said of McMaryion. “There is probably always someone trying to work harder than you, but I can’t imagine many people who have (worked harder than McMaryion), just watching film, and it isn’t just the last two weeks, it isn’t just the last two months, it literally has been since the last game of last year.
“He has been really diligent about every day making himself better on the field and in the classroom. No doubt about it, and it’s happening.”
McMaryion has a strong offensive line to work with and the weaponry to flip those rankings into the top half of the conference with 95 percent of their rushing yards and 83 percent of their receiving yards back from a year ago.
If that happens, the Bulldogs could be in line for their big season.
McMaryion went into a week of game prep with a sharpness and throwing the football in 7 on 7 and team periods in practice as well as he ever has at Fresno State.
“He has been really consistent,” DeBoer said. “He’s throwing the ball really well. It’s really sharp. It’s coming off his hand really clean and it’s finishing. It’s getting there.
“He has done a really nice job throwing it, and I don’t think he’s over-thinking now. He’s playing and that’s the point we wanted to get him to.”
Get ready for Idaho
Each Fresno State football game week Robert Kuwada will report on keys to the game:
3 things to watch
Need to know
That’s trouble (Something the opponent does that could play well against Fresno State)