Fresno State (3-7) at Brigham Young (7-3)
▪ Saturday: Noon PST at LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,725) in Provo, Utah
▪ TV: BYUTV (Comcast 232); webcast on ESPN3
▪ Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)
▪ Kickoff forecast: 34 degrees, sunny
Fresno State’s three keys to victory
1. Protect that QB. Zack Greenlee obviously took a big step forward in the victory at Hawaii, throwing six touchdown passes while absorbing five roughing-the-passer calls and one personal foul. His ability to check protections and handle the pass rush will be tested again this week by BYU, which is tied with Boston College and Florida for eighth in the nation with 31 sacks.
2. Pummel their QB. BYU has a significant advantage within its passing game, with three wide receivers that are at least 6-foot-4. The Bulldogs will have to generate a pass rush to take some pressure off their undersized (in this matchup) cornerbacks, and they could have the opportunity. Record-chasing senior outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine obviously is highly motivated for more tackles for loss, and the Cougars are allowing 2.5 sacks per game.
3. Again, takeaways. Fresno State had four takeaways in its victory at Hawaii, a season high. BYU has been very good at protecting the football, turning it over only 13 times on nine interceptions and four fumbles, and has a plus-4 turnover margin. The Bulldogs need to force a few and take better advantage than they have this season. They have only six touchdowns off 17 turnovers gained.
– Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee
Fresno State player spotlight: Wide receiver Da’Mari Scott
Hometown/high school: Muskegon Heights, Mich./Cathedral-Los Angeles
Last week: Scott became the second Bulldog this season to catch two touchdown passes in a game as Fresno State beat Hawaii 42-14. Tight end Chad Olsen had two in the season opener. Scott’s TDs came in the second quarter and were his only catches of the game.
Why this game is important for Scott: He wants to continue to build on his role with the team. In 32 career games prior to last week’s trip to Honolulu, Scott only had two TD receptions in his career. Scott on the year has 19 catches for 306 yards and three touchdowns. His 16.1 yards per catch this year leads all Bulldogs receivers who have double-digit receptions.
He said it: “I want to go out and help the team win in every game I play. Play as hard as I can and the rest will take care of itself. I’m going to do anything I can and try to have a good game (against BYU) and help us win. They’re a good team and very disciplined and not going to make a lot of mistakes and they’re going to go out there and play hard. We have to be even better and we have to finish strong (in the last two games).”
– Anthony Galaviz, The Fresno Bee
Tailgating: Bulldogs pregame news and notes
Fresno State has not fared very well against Power Five conference opponents the past two-plus seasons, and although BYU is an independent unaffiliated with any conference, it is a bigger, older and more physical team.
The Bulldogs are going to have to stand up to that physicality as best they can if they are to have any chance at back-to-back road victories.
“These guys, they’re a really physical team,” defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. “It’s going to be a bloody game. They’re a well-coached, disciplined football team. They play whistle to whistle. They play with good angles – they’re going to block with good angles, they’re going to be sound, and they’re not going to put themselves in a bad position with the stuff they’re calling.
“They’re going to roll off that ball with some big dudes, some big and experienced guys. Their receivers are big. The only small guy on the team is the quarterback and he’s not small (Tanner Mangum is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds). There’s going to be physicality. We have to match and exceed it. We have to make sure our guys are ready for a street fight. We have to get after it.”
The Cougars’ starting offensive line has four players that go 300 pounds or more. From left tackle across, senior Ryker Mathews (320 pounds), junior Kyle Johnson (303), sophomore Tejan Koroma (290), sophomore Tuni Kanuch (330) and sophomore Ului Lapuaho (330).
Freshmen not created equal – BYU has played 29 freshmen this season, third most in the nation. That includes 16 true freshmen. That does not mean the Cougars are a young team – of those freshmen, 16 have served a two-year church mission. Mangum, the Cougars’ freshman quarterback, is 22 years old.
The Cougars have 81 players on the roster who have served in more than 25 countries and six of the seven continents.
Where there’s a Will – The Bulldogs are likely to be without inside (Will) linebacker Jeff Camilli, who was on the field for one series in the victory at Hawaii, intercepting a pass, but did not finish the game because of an upper body injury.
Camilli is second on the team with 71 tackles in 10 games, including one tackle for loss. The junior had a three-game stretch with 10 or more tackles that started toward the end of September with 11 in a loss to Utah, then 10 in a loss at San Jose State and 14 in a loss at San Diego State.
If Camilli does not start, third-year sophomore Robert Stanley is likely to take his place. Stanley is averaging 2.3 tackles per game and had seven after Camilli went out.
Mr. 3,000 – Senior running back Marteze Waller is inching toward becoming the fifth player in Fresno State history to rush for 3,000 or more yards, but with two games remaining the Bulldogs will have to reverse the declining production of their run game for him to get there.
Waller gained 80 yards on 10 plays in a loss at Air Force, one of them a 64-yard touchdown run. He gained 74 yards on 17 plays in a loss to Nevada. And last week, he gained 27 yards on 13 plays at Hawaii.
With two games remaining, Waller is fifth on the Bulldogs’ career list with 2,949 yards, 51 short of 3,000 and 69 from passing Michael Pittman (3,017 from 1993-97) for fourth place.
Et cetera – Fresno State will be without backup cornerback Anthoula “Tank” Kelly. The redshirt freshman has been suspended for a violation of team rules but not athletic department policy.
▪ Zack Greenlee will start at quarterback for the Bulldogs, but there is a chance redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson also could get back into the game. “Kilton brings a little different dimension to his game, and we wanted him ready and we played him a little in the (Hawaii) game,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “It’ll be a similar situation this week. Zack will be our starter, but we’ll have a package for Kilton, and we’ll go from there.”
▪ BYU, tied for eighth in the nation in sacks, is 26th in tackles for loss at 7.3 per game. Fresno State is allowing 8.2 tackles for loss per game, most in the Mountain West Conference.
▪ The Bulldogs have 27 sacks this season, tied with New Mexico for second in the conference and on target to hit 30 for a fourth consecutive season under DeRuyter and Toth, running their 3-4 defense. Fresno State has not had 30 or more sacks in four consecutive seasons since 2000-03. The Bulldogs have 137 sacks over the past three seasons plus 10 games.
▪ Linebacker Ejiro Ederaine is four tackles for loss away from tying the conference career record of 47.0 set by San Diego State linebacker Miles Burris. Over the next two games, he likely will get a lot of opportunities to top that. In the fourth quarter at Hawaii, when the Bulldogs had a 42-14 lead and a lot of backups in the game, Ederaine went back out for the final few plays. “Our guys were getting tired and, yeah, he wanted go back in there and we were down some guys because of injury,” DeRuyter said. “He’s like, ‘Come on, coach, put me in. They’re throwing it and I’ll get a sack.’ We’re like, ‘All right,’ … the guys were pretty gassed.”
– Robert Kuwada, The Fresno Bee