Fresno State Bulldogs

Fresno St. faces toughest MW matchup. Will they have Jake Haener to help?

Don’t expect any major reinforcements this week for Fresno State in what is shaping up to be the toughest Mountain West matchup of the season. 

Quarterback Jake Haener, safety Evan Williams and receiver Josh Kelly have been out for weeks, with Head Coach Jeff Tedford previously labeling their availability as week-to-week. 

When Tedford was asked Monday if he expects them to suit up Saturday against the 4-1 San Jose State Spartans, he gave a grim answer. 

“I don’t believe so,” Tedford said. “Again, like I said, it’s week-to-week. We don’t know. We’ll see what goes on tomorrow.” 

But fans shouldn’t get their hopes up that Haener will return and resurrect a struggling offense this week. 

Tedford later said that backup quarterback Logan Fife will start his third straight game. 

In two games under Fife, the Bulldogs have averaged 16 points and 210 total offensive yards per game. 

Fife threw for 157 yards and 2 interceptions against UConn with a 73 percent completion rate. He followed that up with 134 yards, 2 interceptions and a 56 percent completion rate against Boise State. 

But Tedford said he saw noticeable improvement from Fife from the UConn game to the Boise State game. 

“I noticed this last week, which is probably the most difficult place to play for sure in our conference with the noise and things. You could tell that it’s only his second start in a very difficult environment. For a quarterback, you have to feel the speed of the game with the rush around you and just everything. It seemed like he was getting a little more comfortable last week,” Tedford said. 

“This is a new week and a major challenge against another great defense. But being at home I think will help a little bit as far as there’s a lot to deal with at Boise from the noise, the play clock, everything – they have a great defense obviously. But each time out he’ll get more comfortable and feel the speed of the game.” 

If the ‘Dogs want any hope of taking down the rival Spartans they’ll need Fife to feel confidence, not just comfort, come Saturday. 

San Jose State is fresh off a 40-7 drubbing of UNLV and boasts the No. 3 scoring offense in the Mountain West as well as the conference’s top scoring defense, allowing just 14 points per game. 

The Spartans’ defense has also had 6 interceptions while only giving up 5 touchdowns through the air. 

Maybe, though, the ‘Dogs’ offense will be reinvigorated with Las Vegas Raiders’ standout Davante Adams on site for his jersey retirement. 

“We’ve still got a lot of conference play left. We’ve lost three games in the fourth quarter really, battled hard and got to find a way to finish it. We’ve just got to keep plugging. We have some new guys that are playing that are getting experience every week, so with each game they’re improving,” Tedford said. 

“Really it’s disappointing for the kids, obviously. They’re playing hard. Their effort’s there, but not coming away with any reward is always difficult. It takes resilience, and that’s what we have to have. This is a new week. It doesn’t get any easier. San Jose State’s a great football team, probably playing the best of anybody in the conference right now. It’s going to be a battle. Our kids will have resolve to come practice hard this week, and I look forward to coming home.”

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.