Following the first win of the Kalen DeBoer era last week, the Bulldogs are gearing up for Saturday’s matchup against UNLV – a game they don’t have much business losing.
UNLV is 0-2, having lost both games by a combined 46 points, and – like Fresno State – is in the first year under a new head coach, former Oregon offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo.
Considering Fresno State’s outstanding performance in the 38-17 win over Colorado State, the Bulldogs have the momentum and should have the upper hand, but DeBoer naturally is not thinking along those lines.
“You can throw the records out, and every week is it’s own week,” DeBoer said in his weekly press conference Monday. “I know they’re going to be motivated to try to get this victory and get the first one under their belts as well.”
Fresno State’s focus is on replicating the large jump in performance the ‘Dogs had from Week 1 to Week 2 and finding ways to take that next step. DeBoer thinks another jump of equal magnitude is in the cards in Las Vegas.
“We certainly took a big step Week 1 to Week 2,” DeBoer said. “I feel like another big step can certainly be made – one just as big – because there’s things that we could have done a lot better after watching the film.
“I think the cool thing is our team is excited about that, seeing that there were mistakes made that we can clean up and get better – certainly got a new level of belief, I think, in what we’re doing. Winning always helps that.”
While quarterback Jake Haener completely flipped the script from Week 1 and the defense picked up it’s game as well, the offensive line was the one unit that did not impress to the same level that the rest of the team did.
That’s where Fresno State has the most room to grow in this young season and will be tested by the Rebels. The Bulldogs have already allowed 7 sacks this season. Last year, with all the injuries facing the line, the Bulldogs gave up 23 sacks, and in 2018 opponents only reached the quarterback 12 times.
If the offensive line keeps up this pace, the ‘Dogs will give up 28 sacks in eight games, which would be 42 in a normal 12-game season.
UNLV’s sack numbers don’t jump off the board – 1 sack in Week 1, 3 in Week 2 – but DeBoer has been impressed with the Rebels’ pass rush.
“Defensively they’ll give you some different looks up front, try to lock up some guys, play man-to-man and make you win your one-on-one battles – try to get some pressure on the quarterback,” DeBoer said.
“I thought they’ve done that well at times. Maybe the sack numbers don’t show that, but they’re getting guys in the quarterback’s face right as he’s throwing the football.”
In September the NCAA passed legislation which prohibits all practices and competitions on election day in an effort to promote civic engagement.
For the Bulldogs however, they have been targeting team voter turnout since the summer, DeBoer said.
The team’s unity council met in July and desired to have every single player be registered to vote, and the team was 100% registered within two weeks.
“It’s really cool to see these guys just talking about it walking off the field, guys reminding each other to get out and vote if they haven’t done so,” DeBoer said. “But I know most of the guys have already turned in their ballots.
“It’s just a part of them having a voice. It’s really cool. There’s a lot going on, and football talkies up a lot of their time right now. But life’s happening, and being in the position they’re in, they certainly want to be heard. That’s one of the ways to do so.”
News and Notes
- Sophomore wide receiver Emoryie Edwards – a highly recruited player out of Tulare – has not played this season due to a non-football injury, DeBoer revealed Monday, and has actually not practiced with the Bulldogs yet. DeBoer said: “He’s going to be OK. It’s just a matter of he hasn’t been able to be here or be able to practice with us and therefore get on the football field.”
- When the Bulldogs take the field in Allegiant Stadium – the brand new Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV stadium – they will be in front of live fans for the first time in 2020. Last week Nevada permitted Allegiant Stadium to operate at 3% capacity, which comes to about 2,000 fans in the 65,000-seat stadium. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state health department have not allowed any fans to attend live sporting events, instead leaving Fresno State with about 600 cardboard cutouts in the north end zone stands. DeBoer said: “The cool thing about it is that there will hopefully be some parents that get a chance to see their sons play in person. That’s really what I’m looking at, and we have a limited number of tickets that they’ll get. But at least someone will be able to watch them… Guys will probably enjoy having someone there cheering loud, even if it’s the other team. It’s a different feeling, that’s for sure, playing in a stadium with no one there.”
Photo: Fresno State Athletics