Even though Sacramento State is in the lower-tier Football Championship Subdivision, Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford has nothing but respect for the Bulldogs’ next opponent.
Sacramento State is 2-1 heading into Bulldog Stadium. The loss came against Arizona State in a 19-7 game.
“Arizona State’s no slouch,” Tedford said in his press conference Monday. “I can’t say loud enough how good of a football team Sac State is.”
While the offense has shined in wins against NAIA school Southern Oregon and fellow FCS school Northern Colorado, Sacramento State’s defense has been elite.
Tedford noted that the Hornets are only giving up 12 points a game, praising what they’ve accomplished so far in the season.
“Their defense is just playing lights out,” Tedford said. “I thought they really shut down Arizona State. They really shut down everyone they’ve played. They’re giving up 1.8 yards a rush, which is unheard of. They’ve played really really hard.”
Coming off a bye week, Tedford said the team used the extra week to get back to the fundamentals and to make sure the ‘Dogs are doing a good job with tackling, but there wasn’t any extra evaluation of the first two games of the season.
“That’s in the rear view mirror, those first two games,” Tedford said. “Now it’s moving forward and doing our best to try to be successful.”
Tedford talked about the four-game redshirt rule, which allows players to play in four games and still use the rule to sit out the rest of the season and gain an extra year of eligibility.
With running back Josh Hokit moving back to the position from linebacker after multiple injuries to the group in fall camp, there was talk that he might play in four games and redshirt. But Tedford said Hokit will play the whole season.
“Ronnie [Rivers] and him, they’re our two running backs,” Tedford said. “We need him. We had three running backs really go down in camp… We have a lot of trust in Josh Hokit. He’s a very good player. Made the transition back really easy because he knows the terminology, so we’re going to rely on him a lot this year.”
Here’s more of what Tedford had to say:
On the best thing that came out of the bye week:
“I think getting healthy, No. 1 to give some guys a chance to heal up a little bit and get back to fundamentals and get a jump on Sac State. And over the weekend had a chance to go out and recruit a little bit on Friday and Saturday. But just to try to heal up the bodies. Some heal, some don’t. So it’s just the way football is. But it was a productive week.”
On getting the team focused for Sacramento State:
“Just to make sure we understand that they’re a great football team, and we have to concentrate on us, execution, make sure we’re fundamentally sound. Because it’s going to be a battle. They’ve played really really hard. They do a great job on offense of spreading the ball around. Very efficient with what they do. They’re over 50 percent on third down. They just do a lot of really good things, keep you off balance. Able to run and throw it. Defensively they’ve pretty much shut everybody down. The message is for sure that we’re playing a really really good football team, and we have to play our best if we want to be successful.”
On what Sacramento State has improved on from last year:
“Well they have a whole new coaching staff. It’s a new offense, new defense, so the kids play really really hard. They’re very efficient. [Head coach] Troy Taylor does an excellent job offensively, and the defensive coordinator does an excellent job. You could tell they’re very well coached. They play really really hard, really disciplined. So it’s a different team. You may look at some of their personnel, but it’s a whole different package in all phases of the game.”
On Sacramento State’s run defense:
“They do a lot of movement, but they play really hard. They’re physical. They don’t get out of gaps. They’re just really well coached. They’re very multiple with what they do. So it’s a challenge. And Arizona Stat,e who has a great running back, they pretty much held him to almost nothing. It seems like any yards that they do get against them, it’s because the quarterback scrambles or something. Designed run plays are few and far between of anybody making any yards on them.
On playing six true freshmen so far:
“Every week’s a new experience. I think we have good young kids here, but every week’s a different challenge. Every week’s a different plan. How they fit into the plan. They’ve competed well. Like in anything, you continue to look for growth each and every week of the season to try to improve, try to get better every week. Not just the young guys, but everyone.”
On the four game redshirt rule with the freshmen this year:
“Well it’s always a consideration because the further you go into the season, the more you have to see how many reps they’re getting – is it worth using the four game, what is the depth at their position, those types of things. It’s something that we monitor each week. We look at it. We evaluate it. We’ve only played two so far, so as it gets into the third and fourth, then it becomes really decision time at that point on what we’re going to do with them. But there’s quite a few guys playing right now, quite a few young guys. And so as it gets to the fourth game there will be some decisions to be made.”
On having many freshmen dressing out but not playing yet:
“Guys that are right there that could play at any point, it’s good for them to go through a game experience – be it pregame meal, be it meetings leading up to the game, warmup for the pregame, what a pregame atmosphere looks like, feels like, the focus it takes during the game, whether they play or whether they don’t. But it’s good to go through, especially in nonconference where we don’t have a limitation on how many people we can travel. Things like that. It’s nice to have them involved to feel part of it and to know that if we need them, what the environment feels like, what the tempo, what the mindset needs to be. It’s for that experience as well.”
On Derek Carr becoming the Raiders’ all-time leading passer:
“That’s awesome. Congratulations to Derek. It’s well deserved. Really happy for him. I got a chance a little bit this last week to see him play the game before a week earlier. I thought he played great. Looked like he had great command with what was going on. Very accurate throwing the ball. Looks like he’s having fun playing. So really happy for him, because I know how hard he works at it, how much it means to him. So congratulations to him, well deserved.”
On Saturday being Football Fiesta celebrating Hispanic heritage:
“I think it’s great. It’s obviously a big part of the valley. We appreciate the Hispanic community. It makes up a big portion of our crowd, so we’re very appreciative to them. It’s that we’re able to honor them.
Most important factor for players to keep in mind when playing an FCS school:
“Well, to focus on our execution. It’s no different. FCS, FBS, we don’t look at opponents any differently. I don’t look at this opponent any differently. Because these guys can play with anybody. It’s very obvious they can play with anyone. They can score. They play great defense. So the whole FBS FCS thing to me makes no difference whatsoever. Power Five, Group of Five, none of it ever makes any difference. They get scholarships too. They’re good players, and they’re very well coached. They pose a lot of challenges. In order to be successful, you have to play your best, no matter who you play. That’s going to be very evident this Saturday. We have a lot of respect for Sac State. They’ve done a phenomenal job. Very impressive to watch on tape.”