Fresno State Football

Minnesota has a massive offensive line. Does that mean big trouble for the Bulldogs?

Coach Tedford assesses Bulldogs’ performance against USC, looks forward to Minnesota

After loss to USC, Fresno State will be facing the Golden Gophers out of the Big Ten for the second straight year, this time at Bulldog Stadium.
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After loss to USC, Fresno State will be facing the Golden Gophers out of the Big Ten for the second straight year, this time at Bulldog Stadium.

The Fresno State Bulldogs get another Power Five opponent this week with Minnesota making a visit to Bulldog Stadium, and one thing stands out on that depth chart.

The Golden Gophers’ offensive line, from left tackle to right, goes 325, 325, 305, 345 and 400 pounds. Not a typo – sophomore Daniel Faalele is listed at 6-foot-9 and 400 pounds.

The expectation, then, no surprise.

“They’re going to lead with the run with that big offensive line,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “They’re a massive offensive line – everybody is over 300 pounds, they have a 400-pound tackle. They’re built for Big Ten football.

“We have our hands full trying to stop the run and trying to get them in long-yardage situation because that’s what they did really well against us last year.”

But is that really big trouble for the Bulldogs’ defensive front?

Fresno State had issues against the run in a 31-23 loss at USC to open the season, allowing 175 yards at 4.9 yards per play.

On first and second down, the Trojans averaged 5.2 and 5.9 yards per play, staying in third-and-short to third-and-manageable much of the game.

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Fresno State defensive tackle Jasad Haynes, left, and defensive end Mykal Walker celebrate a second half sack in a 49-27 victory over Toledo. CRAIG KOHLRUSS Fresno Bee file

But some poor tackling played into it, as much as a disparity in physicality at the line.

That first-down number is bloated by a 14-yard run, the second-down number by runs of 16, 26 and 14 yards; the Trojans’ other 12 second-down runs went for just 2.7 yards per play.

The Bulldogs need to clean that up, tackle better.

Minnesota, which opened with a 28-21 victory at home over a very good FCS team in South Dakota State, didn’t exactly run at will behind that massive line.

The Golden Gophers rushed it 42 times for only 132 yards, 3.1 yards per play. Minnesota had only two runs of 10 or more yards and none of 20-plus. On third-and-short, where that size on the right side of the line plus a 270-pound tight end can be put into play, they gained only 11 yards on four plays and one of those runs went for 9 yards.

“They’re a big group,” Tedford said. “We’re going to have to make sure we keep our pad level down, because they can get some movement.”

Fresno State head football coach Jeff Tedford talks about what impressed him about quarterback Jorge Reyna during his debut as a starter against the Trojans.

Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
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