It’s game week, Idaho at Fresno State in the season-opener for both teams. Here are three things to keep an eye on during the game:
Big man match up – After 31 career starts at right guard, the Bulldogs’ Micah St. Andrew will make his first career start at center — a move offensive line coach Ryan Grubb first took a look at during the spring to build some depth at the position.
Midway through fall camp, it ended up sticking. Good time for it. St. Andrew at 6-foot-3 and 348 pounds is a bigger body than Markus Boyer (6-1 and 300), who moved to right guard from center, and against Idaho will be lining up against a 331-pound nose tackle in redshirt sophomore Rahsaan Crawford. St.
Andrew will have an edge, certainly in experience, and the Bulldogs run game could get off to a solid start against a defensive front that is not particularly big. Last season, Idaho allowed 4.4 yards per rush, ninth in the Sun Belt.
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First of four – Coach Jeff Tedford and the Bulldogs’ staff has been tinkering with ways to work the new NCAA rule — allowing a player to participate in any four games while still retaining a redshirt season — to their advantage .
This, obviously, is Game One and the Bulldogs could have a few freshmen hit the field and provide a few clues how they plan to deploy their freshmen and a few other players.. One, Will linebacker Sherwin King, the Sunnyside High grad, is in the two-deep and is likely to play all season.
Lining up their shots – Fresno State will take some shots down the field, and they could come from the Bulldogs’ X receivers Jamire Jordan or Derrion Grim, the Z’s KeeSean Johnson or Delvon Hardaway or in the slot Michiah Quick or Justin Allen.
Tight end Justin Rice also is a down field threat, and a tough match up for any defense. Will they hit any? It wouldn’t be unheard of – Fresno State last season had 54 pass plays that went for 20 or more yards and six that went for 50-plus, second and tied for second most in the Mountain West Conference.
Idaho returns only five starters from a middling defense and allowed opponents last season to complete 61 percent of their passes. One thing the Vandals didn’t do is let a lot of footballs go flying over their heads. Idaho allowed 30 pass plays of 20 or more yards, tied for the eighth fewest in the FBS.