It’s game week, Idaho at Fresno State in the season-opener for both teams. Here are the bullet points for the Bulldogs and Vandals:
It has been more than three years now since Jasad Haynes walked on at Fresno State and still he can rattle off every defensive tackle that was ahead of him on the depth chart when he first showed up, which is not all that easy. He was the sixth of seven in fall camp, and there is a lot of life between here and there. But Haynes can do it, rapid fire, one after the other; boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
“Nate Madsen, Ryan Steele, Tyler Puccio, Patrick Belony, Jaleel Carter and then me and Tyler Roberts,” Haynes said. “It still lingers in the back of my head, makes me remember to keep pushing, don’t forget where you came from.”
Haynes, from Clovis North, put in a lot of work to get to Fresno State and then through that list of defensive tackles, which includes some long lost Bulldogs.
He is one of eight former walk-on players in the two-deep for the opener on Saturday against Idaho, along with running backs Josh Hokit and Dejonte O’Neal, centers Micah St. Andrew and Matt Smith, left tackle Nick Aibuedefe, wideout Justin Allen and linebacker George Helmuth.
St. Andrew and Helmuth are starters.
“When I first came there I was a sixth-string walk-on,” Haynes said. “I didn’t think I was going to play and now I finally have an opportunity to start my very first ball game where at Bulldog Stadium. It’s a dream come true.”
Look to the tight end?
It is not as if Bulldogs quarterback Marcus McMaryion needs any more weapons to work with — Fresno State this season returns 95 percent of its rushing yards and 83 percent of its receiving yards from a year ago.
But he could get some in this game anyway with the return of tight end Cam Sutton, who was impressive at the start of fall camp before going down with a leg injury. The play he was injured on, it was a big one. It was a deep route up the sideline and he made a nice adjustment to the ball in the air before coming down with it.
Sutton was back in practice the past few days getting some reps with the No. 1 and No. 2 offense and could give McMaryion another big target.
The junior college transfer is 6-foot-6 and, like starting tight end Jared Rice, has a large catch radius and can get down the field.
“Just got him back and it’s good to have him, but we have to get him up to speed, get him caught up with everything that he missed,” tight ends coach Scott Thompson said. “Hopefully he’ll be able to make a contribution this weekend.”
Fresno State has won its 13 games against FCS competition since 2000, winning those games by an average margin of 28.5 points.
Inside the Vandals
The Vandals’ starters on the offensive line combined have a total of just 37 career starts and 25 of those starts are with players at different positions than they are now listed.
Quick tackle Irving Schuster started three games last season at strong tackle, quick guard Conner Vrba started 11 games last season at center and center Sean Tulette started 11 games last season at quick tackle.
Idaho also will be starting a true freshman at strong tackle, Logan Floyd.
Fresno State, by comparison, has 71 returning starts on its offensive line.
Center Micah St. Andrew has 31 career starts, left guard Christian Cronk has 26 and left tackle Netane Muti has made 14 starts.
- Idaho inside linebackers coach Adam Breske was a graduate assistant at Sioux Falls in 2006 when Bulldogs offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer was leading the Cougars to the first of three NAIA national championships.
- The most points scored by Fresno State in a season opener is 68, a 68-21 victory at New Mexico in 1988. The Bulldogs went 10-2 that year, winning the Big West Conference.
- Put a wrap on 2017 with this: the Bulldogs last season were one of three teams in the FBS to win 10 or more games while playing five opponents that won 10 or more games. The other two were Auburn and Ohio State. Fresno State lost at Alabama (13-1) and at Washington (10-3), won at San Diego State (10-3) and beat Boise State at home and lost to the Broncos (11-3) on the road in the Mountain West championship.
- The Bulldogs are opening their 97th season of college football and their next victory will be No. 600 in program history. Fresno State all-time is 599-423-27.
- DeBoer on the Bulldogs’ state of mind: “We are ready to go. I think the last week and a half, two weeks, have been really good. The guys are dialed in and it’s time to go hit somebody else and see where we’re at. There’s always going to be stuff that we have to fix. I think the guys have had some good urgency trying to make sure we’re paying attention to details and the intensity level is high. But there just comes a point where you have to play football.”