Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter is sticking with Zack Greenlee as his starting quarterback this week against Brigham Young.
The sophomore from Stockton passed for 285 yards and a career-high six touchdowns in a 42-14 victory over Hawaii on Saturday. DeRuyter praised him Sunday and Monday for withstanding defensive pressure.
That effort was more than enough for Greenlee to keep the starting assignment he won after an open competition with Kilton Anderson last week.
The challenge this week is a different level: BYU is giving up only 22.4 points per game and ranks eighth in the FBS with 31 sacks. The Cougars are coming off a 20-16 loss to Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
“We have a tall task ahead of us,” DeRuyter said. “This is probably as big, as veteran a unit that we’ve played all year. Defensively, they are huge up front.”
The Bulldogs will be staring up at Bronson Kaufusi. The senior defensive end stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 280 pounds. He was huge against Missouri, with 10 tackles (eight solo, three for a loss), two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
The Cougars start two more massive men on the defensive front, junior nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (6-2, 300) and senior end Logan Taele (6-2, 293). The three starting linebackers average 232 pounds.
We have a tall task ahead of us.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter on facing BYU on Saturday
And Fresno State figures to see a few more seniors on the field Saturday, since it’s the last home game of the season for BYU.
Even at quarterback, the Cougars have experience. Senior Taysom Hill suffered a season-ending foot injury during the opening win over Nebraska, but 22-year-old freshman (remember, most of the BYU players already have gone on Mormon missions) Tanner Mangum has filled in well, starting with the Hail Mary pass to beat the Cornhuskers.
Mangum is 202 of 323 for 2,442 yards and 16 touchdowns with five interceptions. Fresno State’s four quarterbacks are a combined 165 of 322 for 1,768 yards and 20 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
“Mangum has come in and done a terrific job in relief,” DeRuyter said. “You can’t tell the guy was a backup before. He’s an older guy, not like a kid out of high school. But still, give him credit: he went into the season thinking that he was going to be a backup and they forced him into action early and he has done a terrific job.”
▪ The teams last met in 1998 when both were members of the Western Athletic Conference. Fresno State won that game 31-21 at Bulldog Stadium.
▪ The Bulldogs lead the series 5-4; it’s 2-2 in Provo. The first meeting took place there in 1956 with Fresno State winning 26-13.
▪ DeRuyter says: “The fact that we won on Saturday night, I can’t help but think it gave our guys confidence, and we need that.”
FRESNO STATE (3-7) AT BYU (7-3)
Vitals: Noon Saturday in Provo, Utah
TV: None (online on BYUTV and ESPN3)
Radio: KFIG (AM 940); KGST (AM 1600)