Recapping the Bulldogs’ 52-10 loss at BYU.
Players of the game
BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum: After a 2 for 6 start, the 22-year-old freshman was solidly efficient, finishing 24 of 37 for 336 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Nine players had receptions.
Cougars defensive lineman Bronson Kaufusi: The 6-foot-8, 280-pound man-mountain led BYU’s punishing defense with three sacks and four tackles for a loss overall.
BYU defensive back Kai Nacua: The junior from Las Vegas had the big defensive play, picking off a Zack Greenlee pass and returning it 32 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. He added a second interception in the fourth quarter that set up the Cougars’ final score.
Play of the game
Second quarter, Fresno State second-and-10 at the Bulldogs’ 15: It was still a game at that point, with the Fresno State defense hanging in and holding BYU to 10 points. But a Cougars punt pinned the Bulldogs inside their 20, and after Marteze Waller was stopped for no gain, trouble loomed. Greenlee’s second-down pass went way off target, was picked off by Nacua and returned for a 32-yard touchdown and a 16-3 lead with 7:21 to go until halftime.
Numbers of the game
6: Touchdowns against Fresno State this season on a pick-6 or a fumble return
52: Consecutive points scored by BYU after Bulldogs took 3-0 lead in first quarter
37.5: Completion percentage for the Bulldogs, including 34.1 by Greenlee
11: Tackles for loss by the Cougars, the plays coming from seven players
3.5: Yards per play for the Bulldogs on 78 plays
7.1: Yards per play for BYU on 73 plays
5: Games this season Fresno State has had less than 300 yards, the most going back to 2000
36: Points for the Cougars on five trips into the red zone
16: Losses over past season-plus for Bulldogs, most since 15 in 1978-79
6 p.m. Nov. 28 vs. Colorado State at Bulldog Stadium: The Rams played spoiler, eliminating New Mexico from the conference’s Mountain Division title chase with a 28-21 win Saturday in Albuquerque, N.M. Nick Stevens was 16 of 23 for 264 yards and a touchdown, Izzy Matthews ran in from a yard out with 8:41 to go for the deciding touchdown and Kevin Pierre-Louis picked off a pass to end a final threat as Colorado State (6-5, 4-3) became bowl-eligible. Air Force clinched the outright Mountain Division title.
In throwing six touchdown passes in Fresno State’s victory at Hawaii, Greenlee put together the best passing efficiency rating for a Fresno State starting quarterback since 2013 – when future Oakland Raiders star Derek Carr was last lighting up scoreboards around the Mountain West Conference.
Greenlee completed 20 of 35 passes for 285 yards with those six touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating was 182.11.
But in the loss at BYU, the third-year sophomore went from the best to the worst.
Greenlee completed 14 of 41 passes (34.1 percent) for 125 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions and was replaced in the fourth quarter. His passer rating was 45.12.
The bottom five …
▪ 45.12 – Zack Greenlee at BYU in 2015
▪ 48.48 – Brian Burrell vs. Rice in 2014 Hawaii Bowl
▪ 68.89 – Kilton Anderson at Air Force in 2015
▪ 72.63 – Greenlee vs. Wyoming in 2014
▪ 76.59 – Chason Virgil vs. Utah in 2015
Just short – Waller has been inching closer to 3,000 career rushing yards, gaining 74 yards in a loss to Nevada and 27 in the victory over Hawaii. The senior running back almost got there on Saturday – he was at 50 yards on 17 plays before tackled for a loss of three on his 18th carry of the day.
Waller finished with 47 yards and will go into the Bulldogs’ final game of the season against Colorado State with 2,996 rushing yards. He trails Robbie Rouse (4,647 yards), Ron Rivers (3,473), Ryan Mathews (3,280) and Michael Pittman (3,017) on the Bulldogs’ career list.
If he gets back there, it will not have been easy. Waller had 17 carries against the Wolf Pack and 13 against Hawaii, and almost half of them went for less than three yards – 14, including three for losses. Against the Cougars, Waller was held to less than two yards on 11 of his 18 carries and hit for a loss on four.
Fresno State averaged just 2.8 yards on 30 rushing plays, the third time this season it has gained less than 3.0 yards per rush. The Bulldogs gained only 0.55 yards per play in a loss at San Diego State and 1.95 the following week in a loss to Utah State.
Ederaine nears mark – At game’s end, senior linebacker Ejiro Ederaine was three tackles for loss short of equaling the Mountain West career record.
Now he’s 2 1/2 . A late statistical change, following a film review, added an assist to Ederaine’s total.
The conference record is 47, held by San Diego State’s Miles Burris (2008-11).
“Whatever the number is, I’m going to get it. I don’t care if it comes down to the last play of the fourth quarter” next Saturday against Colorado State, Ederaine said. “That number has been on my mind. It’s something I want to do for my teammates and my family.”
Final goal – Junior cornerback Jamal Ellis had one goal remaining: Send the senior class out as winners in next week’s season finale against Colorado State.
“This next game is Senior Night, and we just want to send the seniors out the right way,” Ellis said. “We have a good chance to win this game if we prepare right and come out and play hard.”
Climate change – The game-time temperature of 38 degrees at LaVell Edwards Stadium was “only” 43 degrees cooler than last week’s 81 at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii.
Still, that didn’t prevent many Bulldogs from wearing short sleeves.
Kaufusi’d – The Bulldogs had a difficult time blocking Bronson Kaufusi, the Cougars’ 6-foot-8, 280-pound defensive end. The senior had five tackles with four tackles for a loss (three of them sacks), a pass breakup and also blocked a 37-yard field-goal attempt by Kody Kroening at the end of the first half.
Et cetera – Inside linebacker Jeff Camilli was held out, replaced in the starting lineup by Robert Stanley. Stanley was credited with two tackles in the game. The Bulldogs’ top three tacklers were defensive backs – cornerback Jamal Ellis and strong safety Charles Washington both had eight tackles – seven solo – and corner Tyquwan Glass had seven tackles – six solo.
▪ BYU forced three turnovers and turned each one into a touchdown. Fresno State forced two turnovers and didn’t turn either one into points. The Bulldogs this season have forced 19 turnovers, but scored following only nine of them with six touchdowns and three field goals.
▪ The Bulldogs were without their top two tight ends in Chad Olsen and Kyle Riddering, both out with shoulder injuries. David Tangipa was their only healthy player at the position.
▪ Fresno State forced BYU into a third-down play only 11 times in the game – the Cougars were 4 of 11 (36.4 percent). Only once this season have the Bulldogs defended fewer third-down plays – San Jose State ran 10 in its 49-23 victory.
▪ Fresno State went into the game with 25 drives this season into the red zone, tied with Hawaii for the fewest in the Mountain West. The Bulldogs got there three times against BYU, but were able to score only three points. They have only 14 touchdowns from those possessions this season, fewest in the conference.