The Fresno State Bulldogs looked quite poised and steady as they hung 28 points on the Colorado State Rams. Perhaps things would have been slightly different if a first half TD for the Rams would have counted, but it was called back on a crack back block penalty, which took what little air the Rams had, out of their effort. The Rams struggled offensively, but seemed to keep pace for awhile through the field position game, but the FSU Bulldogs were able to control the clock (38:55 - 23:05) and push the Rams around, particularly on Defense.
The CSU Rams were incapable of getting anything going on offense. Predictable calls, from predictable play sets were the hallmark of many 3 and outs. The Rams were unable to line up in an obvious power set to get even one yard and the FSU defense simply shut the Rams down. With a lack of physical size, speed or strength advantage, it is a wonder why the Rams continue to try to push teams around in short yardage situations. FSU was able to line up, put everyone in the box and stop the Rams dead in their tracks.
The Bulldogs led in almost all statistical categories: Total yards (408 - 249), Rushing yards (191 - 55), passing yards (217 - 194), first downs (24 - 15), third down conversions (10/21 - 5/14), fourth down conversions (4/6 - 1/3), sacks (4/29 yards - 2/18 yards), fumbles (2 -1). The Rams (5/ 55 yards) did commit less penalties than the Bulldogs (10/112), but having less than half of the opponent's penalties doesn't always equal a win.
Derek Carr led the Bulldogs with 4 touchdowns, 217 yards and no interceptions. He was able to elude the Rams' pass rush for most of the game, but was sacked twice. Robbie Rouse led the rushing attack for FSU with 124 yards on 26 attempts for 4.8 yards a carry. Marteze Waller was second with 32 yards and 6.4 yard a carry average. Rouse also led the FSU receivers with 50 yards, but Devante Adams had 4 receptions for 41 yards including 2 TD catches. Other receivers scoring from Carr were Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper, with one each.
The Rams, led by senior QB MJ McPeek (sacked 4 times) in his first start, scored a lone touchdown late in the game from McPeek to sophomore Charles Lovett. Chris Nwoke led the Rams in Rushing with 68 yards and a 4.5 yards per carry average and Crockett Gilmore led the Rams in receiving yards with 41 yards on four receptions for an average of 10.3 yards a catch. The Rams defense kept them in the game for awhile, but with the anemic offense, the defense was simply left out on the field too long and was exposed by Carr and the FSU offense.
Fresno State, which is now 4 - 2 (2 - 0), plays BSU in Boise on October 13th at 3:30 on the NBC Sports Network. The Bulldogs are in second place in the Mountain west, behind the Nevada Wolf Pack, and seem to have things going both defensively and offensively. New coach Tim DeRuyter seems to have them going in the right direction on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs can beat anyone in the Mountain West on any given Saturday and the next few weeks should be telling, in where the Bulldogs will end up. Only two more wins are needed to make them bowl eligible.
The Rams (1 - 5, 0 - 2), in contrast, won their first game against the CU Buffs, but haven't been able to put it together since. While its true that the Rams lost several of their best players on defense and had their starting QB transfer schools, the lack of production offensively has been crippling, as the defense cannot stay on the field as long as they have asked to be. There is a lack of depth on both sides of the ball, which has been exposed in every game but the first. Coach Jim McElwain has a much bigger rebuilding job than he thought in the beginning. How much of the Rams mostly predictable offense is the product of McElwain as offensive coordinator from the Alabama Crimson Tide and how much is Dave Baldwin, former offensive coordinator for the Utah State Aggies?
One could hear the crowd grown when CSU lined up in the power set in third or fourth and short. The Bulldogs were able to stuff the box full of defenders, sniff out the play and move the line of scrimmage backward into the Ram backfield. On one sack, the Ram's QB didn't even get to finish his drop back before he was sacked. For the hornless Rams to succeed on offense, they are going to have to spread defenses out on these plays and make them respect the pass. If McElwain believes that the Rams will be able to push the line forward to allow the running game to flow between the tackles, he had better take the Rams to the WAC to play NMSU and Idaho or lower echelon Sun Belt teams. The first hint of this was the safety against NDSU, where the Ram offensive line was pushed back into the end zone and the play was blown up because there was literally no where to run. The Rams lack the size, strength and sheer will to push teams back in these scenarios. The Ram's only chance, then, is to become less predictable and create mismatches through deception, rather than trying to dominate teams physically. For homecoming next year, this Ram Alum respectfully requests Jack Graham to reschedule UNC (University of Northern Colorado), which was one of CSU's three wins last year. Everyone deserves a chance for a win on homecoming!