This was an interesting game, and one I was glad I attended in person. I predicted the Fresno St. Bulldogs to defeat Weber State by a final score of 48-21. While I got the spread right, the points were off with Fresno State winning 37-10, and how they got them was slightly different than expected.
Key penalties aided Weber State; I was shocked at the number of roughing the passer calls. Carr completed 20 of 25 passes for 298 yards and 2 TDs and an outlandish 206.5 QB rating, and Rouse ran for 123 yards and 2 TDs. Mike Hoke was 25/32 for 202 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT for Weber State, whose run game was utterly shut down. While the score indicates a bit of a blowout, the reality is it could have been much more of one.
After forcing a punt from Weber State, Fresno State began the game with an 8-play, 97-yard drive that ended in a 27 yard Derek Carr TD pass to Davante Adams. They stopped the Wildcats cold on their next drive, and scored again on a Robbie Rouse TD run. They forced a third punt and drove again for a TD, also ran in by Rouse. At this point Carr had not had a single incompletion. Then Weber State drove down the field and got on the board with a FG. They forced the Bulldogs to punt and were in turn forced to punt. Fresno State answered with a field goal, and the game went to halftime at 24-3.
Weber State forced the Bulldogs to punt on their opening drive of the second half, then drove down the field and scored. Both offenses stagnated after that until Sean Alston picked off a Mike Hoke pass in Weber State territory to the 38 in the middle of the 4th quarter. Fresno State immediately scored on another Carr pass to Adams for 38 yards, then forced a punt and sealed the game with a 10 play, 69-yard drive culminating in a Milton Knox TD run.
Various miscellaneous notes:
Three of Fresno State's starting WRs were out this game, as were 5 other players. Senior WR Rashad Evans was ruled ineligible per NCAA regulations for this particular game. Sophomore WR Josh Harper was out with a hamstring injury. Sophomore WR Victor Dean was suspended for one game for violating an undisclosed athletic department policy, as was CB Davon Dunn and LB Ibe Nduke. S Terrance Dennis is ineligible for the next 3 games and WR AJ Johnson for the season. Dean, Dunn, Nduke, and Evans are all back next week for Oregon, as is Evans.
Isaiah Burse received little to no hype during camp, but performed well in this game (6 catches 86 yards), making a spectacular fingertip catch in the first quarter. Freshman Davante Adams looked stellar (7 catches, 118 yards, 2 TDs) but could have had even gaudier stats; he got flagged for offensive pass interference on what would have been a 25-yard TD in the second quarter, and he dropped a pass inside Weber State's 10 in the 4th quarter that could have easily been turned into a TD; it would have been a 23 yard catch. The dropped pass didn't count in the grand scheme of things, as Fresno State scored that drive, but was still noticeable. Mark my words, Adams will be a star. I didn't really notice the absence of the 3 missing WRs until I got home. Fresno State is going to be absurdly deep at WR this year, even backup QB Greg Watson got a few snaps at the WR position and hauled in a catch for 32 yards.
Mike Hoke is a good, solid QB and could probably start for many FBS schools. He took relatively good care of the ball except for one pick, was smart and accurate, and gave Fresno State fits trying to corral him on scrambles. The same can't be said for the rest of Weber State's offense. They could do nothing on the ground. Their run game was their bread and butter last year (200+ YPG) but they got 67 yards on 29 carries.
Hustle play of the game goes to Weber State punter Tony Epperson. When the ball was snapped over his head in the first quarter, he ran it down, weaved his way between two would-be punt blockers, and got a respectable punt off. Thereafter Weber State's long snapper compensated by essentially rolling the ball backwards (I'm not joking here).
I was pleased that Robbie Rouse's reps were kept reasonable. By the workload he got last season you'd think he was the only competent RB on the roster. True freshman Marteze Waller (5 rushes, 28 yards) and senior Milton Knox (6 rushes, 42 yards, 1 TD) chipped in to give Rouse a break on the last two drives of the game. Waller has evidently passed senior Michael Harris for 3rd on the depth chart; watch out for him next year.
Carr was spectacular. I only saw one true bad throw, an overthrow on a deep pass. He's also a threat to run. He's not a true dual-threat QB like Brett Smith or Cody Fajardo, but he is FAST when he does tuck it and run.
A huge plus for the 'Dogs: NO INJURIES. Not a one. Injuries killed them last year.
If not for bonehead penalties from Fresno State this would have been an absolute boat-race. Several times the Bulldogs had Weber State stopped and kept their drive alive with a roughing the passer or late hit.
This was what I refer to as a "tuneup game". Fresno State got an opponent good enough to challenge them and show them what they need to work on, but not good enough to really scare them. Next week at Oregon will be a huge test.