Fresno State Bulldogs

With Haener week-to-week, Tedford confident in Fife to lead ‘Dogs against UConn

Fresno State suffered a series of impactful injuries in the stinging 45-17 loss at USC a couple weeks ago that will continue to affect the team in the coming weeks. 

Bulldogs Head Coach Jeff Tedford said Monday that quarterback Jake Haener, safety Evan Williams and offensive tackle Dontae Bull are all considered week-to-week after being removed from the USC game and will not travel with the team to face UConn on Saturday. 

Haener is dealing with a high ankle sprain, Williams has a knee ligament issue and Bull is out with a groin injury. 

Good news, though, is that Tedford is confident in backup quarterback Logan Fife to take the reins of the offense, especially after he came in after halftime against USC and impressed, going 11-12 with 140 yards. 

Tedford said he has “all the confidence in the world” with Fife. Quarterback Jaylen Henderson is listed as the backup on the depth chart and will receive reps in practice this week, but the plan is to find stability with Fife. 

“It wasn’t too big for him in that environment. Sometimes it can be too big and the game happening too fast, and I didn’t think that was the case at all. He looked very comfortable in there and ran the offense well, managed the clock well – all that kind of thing that the quarterback has to do,” Tedford said of Fife’s performance against USC. 

“He was composed. He had poise, and that’s going to be the thing. He has to understand that, no different than any quarterback in there, you have to let everybody do their job around you. You don’t have to try to do too much, just do your job.” 

Tedford had more praise for Fife, saying he is very competitive with “plenty of arm talent” and the athleticism to extend plays with his feet. 

“I’ve been always impressed with his preparation going into a gameplan,” Tedford said. “He’s a student of the game. He puts a lot of hours in. I think this will be a  big week for him to kind of hone in on being that starter, and again just manage his job I think is really important.” 

Another backup on offense who took advantage of the given opportunities against USC was running back Malik Sherrod. 

Starter Jordan Mims is averaging over 100 rushing yards per game and already has 4 touchdowns on the season, but Sherrod broke off a 32-yard touchdown run against the Trojans and earned Tedford’s confidence. 

“Malik has done an excellent job this year,” Tedford said. “He has really good vision. He’s very quick. In the open field he’s got great speed. He’s been very solid, very dependable. We feel really good about him being a great complement to Jordan in the backfield.” 

Tedford: Don’t underestimate UConn

UConn is off to a 1-4 start to the season, with the only win coming against lower tier FCS opponent Central Connecticut. 

But in typical head football coach fashion, Tedford pointed to the quality of opponents that the Huskies have faced, leading to their losing record. 

UConn lost 31-20 to Utah State, 48-14 to Syracuse, 59-0 and 41-10 against North Carolina State. 

Michigan is currently ranked No. 4, North Carolina State comes in at No. 10 and while Syracuse did not rank in the AP Top 25, the Orange received enough votes to place 30th. 

“Even though they may have been overmatched in some of those games, in some of the situations, they really play hard and they’re really good upfront on both sides of the ball – offensive line, defensive line they do a great job,” Tedford said. 

“They’re an experienced crew. It’s very impressive to watch them play as hard as they play on tape, and it doesn’t matter if they get down, they’re very competitive. I expect to get their best shot, no doubt about it, and we’re going to have to play very very well to have a chance to be successful.”

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.