Not too long after the dispiriting loss to Minnesota ended in double overtime with an interception in the end zone, Jorge Reyna and Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State quarterbacks present and past, looked at one another and could only shake their heads.
“We both were like, ‘Damn, dude, twice in two weeks …’“ Reyna said Tuesday. “But it’s part of the position. If I make the throw I’m glorified. If I don’t make the throw I’m the villain. I know what I signed up for and I have to accept that responsibility.”
Three days after that loss to the Golden Gophers and 10 after a loss at USC in which Reyna had a pass intercepted in the end zone with 1:45 to play and in a one-score game, the Bulldogs quarterback was working with that. Two weeks in a row, a late pick and a loss, is not part of the normal curriculum in quarterback class.
That 24-hour rule, where a team and its players celebrate a win or evaluate a loss for one day and then move on to the next game, was getting stretched a bit, though.
Reyna said he was about 95% of the way there. “Some of it lingers,” he said. “It hurts. This one stings, a lot, back-to-back like that …
“I reevaluate the situation. I go back to the same spot and I revisit it. I made those throws probably 10 or 15 more times and make sure I perfect it so I can at least somewhat wash it out of my mind. I have to learn from it, hold it dear to my heart and make sure I don’t make the same mistake again.”
The 0-2 Bulldogs are on a bye this week and will practice just twice. They were on the field for about 90 minutes Tuesday and will have a full practice Thursday.
This probably is a good time for a break – Fresno State next plays on Sept. 21, a home game against FCS Sacramento State at Bulldog Stadium.
“I have another opportunity to fight,” Reyna said.
Coach Jeff Tedford was not available for media interviews on Tuesday, but his message didn’t figure to be any different than it was after the loss to Minnesota, only his second at Bulldog Stadium in two-plus seasons at his alma mater.
Tedford said then about Reyna, “He is crushed by what happened, obviously. But, not one play was a difference in that game. There were a lot of plays to be made out there. It is a team effort. We win as a team and we lose as a team. There is no laying blame on any one person at all. We are going to stick together as a family and we are going to go back to work.”
At 0-2, there still have been positives for the Bulldogs and their first-year starting quarterback.
Of the 12 FBS teams that have played two Power Five opponents the Bulldogs rank third in scoring offense at 29.0 points per game behind only Clemson (38.0) and Hawaii (38.0). Fresno State has passed for an average of 272.0 yards per game, second in that group behind only Hawaii (428.5). Reyna also is a solid sixth in passing efficiency rating, and three of the five quarterbacks ranked ahead of him are returning starters.
Reyna, at least on Tuesday, was not quite ready to buy into a silver lining.
“Many people have been saying that to me, but at the end of the day, as a quarterback, the ball is in your hand,” Reyna said. “It’s in your court …
“Whatever happens before those plays doesn’t really matter. We still had the opportunity to seal the deal and win, but didn’t come through.”