Fresno State has played with a different right tackle in each of its past three football games, starting with sophomore Syrus Tuitele, who held down that spot in the first seven games before getting banged up in a 38-7 victory at New Mexico.
Tuitele could be back Friday when the Bulldogs play at Boise State with their No. 23 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings and lead in the West Division of the Mountain West on the line. But they also could play one of the two backups, and midweek all three were getting practice reps and in play to start.
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That is a rough way to go into a matchup against the Broncos, who have three of the best pass rushers in the conference. In a victory over BYU last week, Boise State racked up seven sacks — the most it has had in a game since 2014.
Boise State also had five sacks against both Troy and Wyoming, and four against San Diego State — and none of those teams drop back to pass all that much.
The Cowboys and Aztecs are ranked 10th and 11th in the Mountain West in pass attempts per game, putting it up just 22.9 and 23.0 times a game. Troy is seventh in the Sun Belt, throwing the ball 26.3 times a game.
The majority of those Boise State sacks have come from Curtis Weaver (7.5), Jabril Frazier (5.5) and Durrant Miles (4.5), edge players who bring power and speed to rank in the top 10 in the conference.
The list of Mountain West sack leaders:
- Curtis Weaver (Boise State) 7.5
- Kaimana Padello (Hawaii) 7.0
- Tipa Galeai (Utah State) 6.5
- Malik Reed (Nevada) 6.0
- Korey Rush (Nevada) 6.0
- Rhashaun Epting (New Mexico) 5.5
- Jabril Frazier (Boise State) 5.5
- Kyahva Tezino (San Diego State) 5.5
- Durrant Miles (Boise State) 4.5
- Garrett Crall (Wyoming) 4.5
“Very productive,” Fresno State offensive line coach Ryan Grubb said of the Broncos. “Last year I think they all were really productive guys as well. Maybe a little bigger, a little faster, a little stronger this year with another year under their belt.”
Frazier definitely has moved up coming off a 2017 season where he had six sacks in 14 games.
“I’ve really been impressed with No. 8 (Frazier) off the edge,” Grubb said. “As far as physicality, I thought he brought a different element to his game this year where he’s able to really get into bigger tackles and actually walk them back down into the B gap.”
Fresno State is leading the conference in sacks allowed, only 5.0 while attempting 32.3 passes per game. Air Force is second with 7.0 sacks allowed, and the Falcons have attempted only 15.2 passes per game.
Boise State is leading the Mountain West in sacks with 31.0, seven more than any other team in the conference.
It is a crucial matchup for the Bulldogs, who are rolling up an average of 431.3 yards and 40.4 points through their first nine games.