Despite the messy performance Saturday, the Bulldogs picked up their first win of the season, and head coach Jeff Tedford saw enough positives in their performance to instill confidence moving forward.
“It seems like a lot of people want to point out some negative things, but there’s a lot of really good things,” Tedford said in his press conference Monday. “It’s not perfect by any means. You always have to improve, but there are a lot of good things.”
Those positives started with quarterback Jorge Reyna. The QB completed two-thirds of his passes to go along with 312 passing yards and two touchdowns. And the receivers dropped five passes
“Jorge’s playing well, and really pleased with it,” Tedford said. “It’s not going to be perfect, no game is. So I don’t know what the big deal is about Jorge. Jorge is doing a really good job.”
Just like in the post-game press conference, Tedford praised punter Blake Cusick for pinning all three punts inside Sacramento State’s 10-yard line.
Running back Josh Hokit’s physical performance in the fourth quarter that propelled the ‘Dogs to their final two touchdowns wasn’t unexpected. It was exactly what the coaches knew Hokit could do.
“When you’re running through tackles and you’re making plays like that, it gets everybody fired up,” Tedford said. “Obviously we needed it at that point to be able to put long drives together and hang onto the football, convert, and then knock it into the end zone. He always plays that way though. That’s what we know of Josh, of how physical he plays and how hard he competes.”
Besides the blown coverage that allowed a Sacramento State touchdown pass in the middle of the field, Tedford thought the defense played well, especially in the third quarter. In the end, the ‘Dogs held Sacramento State to 12 rushing yards all game.
Overall, the offense scored 34 points on a team that was only allowing 12 points per game, and Tedford noted the ‘Dogs would’ve had more than 40 if not for a pair of missed field goals. Despite the missed field goals, there won’t be a kicker-controversy – no change at the position.
“Cesar will be our kicker,” Tedford said. “He hit all those balls solid, just a little right. You see it on Sundays too. Those guys get paid a lot of money to do that, and it happens on Sunday too. It wasn’t like he was shanking balls. He hit them solid. He pushed them a little bit right. We’ll correct that with some fundamentals.”
The other sore spot Saturday was Ronnie Rivers’ uncharacteristic fumbles. Coming into the game, Rivers only fumbled three times in the previous 25 games. Although he had two against Sacramento State, Tedford isn’t worried.
One of the fumbles came when Rivers was stuck in a pile and couldn’t get to the ground. Tedford thought the refs should have blown the play dead before the fumble due to forward progress.
“Sometimes it’s the nemesis of a back that gets stood up in a pile where you can’t go down,” Tedford said. “You can’t protect yourself to get down on the ground, and that’s what happened on that play. There was no way he could go down because they were holding him up and he wasn’t going anywhere. But he has not been a notorious fumbler by any means, so there’s no reason to press the panic button and all of a sudden he’s a fumbler.”
News and Notes
- Injury report: Left tackle Dontae Bull and defensive tackle Jasad Haynes are day-to-day, Tedford said. Cornerback Chris Gaston, who got injured against Minnesota, will miss several games, though Tedford doesn’t think he’ll miss the rest of the season. Deshawn Ruffin, Gaston’s replacement, got injured against Sacramento State and is currently being evaluated to see how serious it is, Tedford said.
- Reyna is No. 16 in the nation in total offense with 325 yards per game.
- Tedford has coached a game at New Mexico State once before back in 2005. He led Cal to a 41-13 win. Although he doesn’t remember what the atmosphere of Aggie Memorial Stadium was like, he remembers the locker room situation: “I remember we had a tent outside the locker room that we dressed in. That’s about all I remember. So the visiting locker room must not be that big or something. I don’t really know.”
- Fresno State and New Mexico State were in the WAC together from 2005-11 and used to play regularly. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 17-1. The Aggies won the last matchup 48-45 in 2011, which was Pat Hill’s last season as head coach of the Bulldogs.