Fresno State Bulldogs · Sports

Quick turnaround gives ‘Dogs chance to bury Week 1 disappointment

Saturday’s 15-point loss to Hawaii obviously did not go according to plan, but with a short week on the calendar, the Bulldogs do not have any time to worry about their regrets in Week 1. 

Instead, Fresno State is getting ready to host Colorado State on Thursday, condensing the practice schedule and taking advantage of the opportunity to get right back on the field and leave the opening-loss in the dust. 

“Just really super happy with how our guys are responding right now,” said head coach Kalen DeBoer after practice Monday. “No one with their heads down – heads held high and coming out with the right attitude, just get better. 

“You’re always interested in how your team responds. We know we’ve got to be better than what we were Saturday. We certainly know that that can be the case, just make sure we’re all pushing in the right direction, pushing together, and today was a great indication of how bad this team really wants to have success.” 

Saturday’s loss was full of turnovers, inconsistency from the offensive and defensive lines and an inability to force stops on third down (Hawaii was 11-16 on third down). In other words, Fresno State failed to execute. 

That is the focus for this short week that consists of practices on only Monday and Tuesday. DeBoer said the word of the week is ‘execute.’

The only spot where the Bulldogs consistently executed against Hawaii was on special teams, outside of a botched extra point. The punt team pinned the Warriors down inside the 10-yard line twice, the Bulldogs forced and recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff and Ronnie Rivers averaged 18.5 yards on his two punt returns. 

Offensively and defensively, however, the Bulldogs had trouble all night putting together consecutive plays together, which is the focus behind the word ‘execute.’ 

“Stringing plays together, being more consistent, is a big piece, and that just comes through good execution,” DeBoer said. “That’s why that’s our word for the week.” 

Whether or not Fresno State finds some consistency remains to be seen, but DeBoer and the Bulldogs have a very similar challenge against Colorado State compared to what they just faced in Hawaii. 

After Saturday’s loss, DeBoer commented on the challenge of facing a team with a new head coach in Week 1. Fresno State’s coaching staff had no film on this current Hawaii squad. 

It’s the same situation this week. Even though Week 1 is in the books, Colorado State still has not played its first game under new head coach Steve Addazio because the scheduled opener against New Mexico was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. 

“We have a good idea just based on who the coordinators are and the style of football they played at their different universities – gives us a good start,” DeBoer said. “It’s a little bit more of a challenge, but I just think if we play our game and we take this next step and improve, we’re going to be in a good position. That’s what we’re doing right now.” 

News and Notes

  • The first touchdown of the season was scored by Ronnie Rivers, his 29th career rushing touchdown. That score moved him ahead of his father – Ron Rivers – on the all-time Fresno State rushing touchdowns list. Rivers is now tied in fourth place with Bryson Sumlin, Michael Pittman and Dean Philpott. 
  • Wide receiver Jalen Cropper only touched the ball twice Saturday, neither of which came on a fly sweep after he found success with that play last season. If Fresno State wants to beat Colorado State, DeBoer and Co. will have to find a way to get the ball in Cropper’s hands more often. Cropper reportedly had a minor foot injury last week, but he was a full participant in practice Monday. DeBoer said: “We want to get him involved more. The overall number of snaps may be limited, but when he’s in there we want to get him more involved than what we did. He’s an explosive player. Certainly when you look and talk as a staff on Sunday, that’s one of the guys that needs to always make sure he was part of the plan and that plan was executed. That’s certainly something we talked about Sunday and as a summary of the game on Saturday.” 
  • Linebacker Arron Mosby saw limited time against Hawaii due to an injury, DeBoer confirmed Monday. The plan was to have Mosby play through an injury through the season, but when the Mountain West initially postponed the season to the spring, DeBoer and staff decided to address the injury – and then the season was moved to October. DeBoer said: “It was a matter of timing and a decision that we had made based on the information we thought of when we were going to play a season. He really just started practicing last week and has come along and took a few snaps, but there was nothing else besides that.” 
  • If any Bulldogs fans want to see a change at QB following Jake Haener’s performance Saturday, it doesn’t sound like that’s on the table. DeBoer said: “You’ve just got to go back to your fundamentals of the concepts and your read progressions and all that. I think for a little bit in the game it got away from him. We’ve got to reel him back in… He knows he’s got better football ahead of him, and we certainly do too. He’s a strong kid.” 
  • Colorado State has its own Justin Rice situation on hand. Rice – the Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year – transferred to Arkansas State after the conference initially postponed the season. Colorado State wide receiver Warren Jackson – the conference preseason offensive player of the year – left the team after the initial postponement to work on his NFL Draft stock and will not play for the Rams this season. That’s excellent news for the ‘Dogs, considering Jackson torched Fresno State last season with 178 receiving yards and 1 touchdown.

Photo: Fresno State Athletics

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.