#104 Fresno State Football 2016 Preview

Fresno State Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #104
#10 Mountain West
The Coach Tim DeRuyter era at Fresno State has gone south quickly. After a couple of great seasons in 2012 and 2013, the following two years have been tough for Bulldog fans to swallow. This year could be difficult too with a young and thin roster. However, unlike many other programs, Fresno State has a patient athletic department and as long as DeRuyter can do enough this year to keep his job, the program will start to be dangerous again in 2017 and beyond.
2015 Record: 3-9, 2-6
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: Tim DeRuyter (29-23 at Fresno State, 30-23 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eric Kiesau
Defensive Coordinator: Lorenzo Ward
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kilton Anderson, QB, 211 yards
Passing: Kilton Anderson, QB, 817 yards
Receiving: Jamire Jordon, WR, 540 yards
Tackles: Jeff Camilli, LB, 76
Sacks: Justin Green, LB, 3.0
Interceptions: Tyquwan Glass, DB, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR KeeSean Johnson, WR Da’Mari Scott
Key Losses: RB Marteze Waller, QB Zack Greenlee, LB Ejiro Ederaine, LB Kyrie Wilson, DB Shannon Edwards, DE Claudell Louis, K/P Garrett Swanson
For the most part, it was the Fresno State defense that played well enough to keep the Bulldogs in a few games here and there and allowed them to beat Abilene Christian, UNLV and Hawaii. More specifically, it was the pass rush that was impressive. Unfortunately, the run defense was terrible, so the opposition could very easily avoid the dangerous pass rushing by running the ball. Regardless, look for players like Nathan Madsen, Nela Otukolo and Brandon Hughes to continue to get into the backfield. The key for the defense will be what new coordinator Lorenzo Ward can get out of the rest of the group. They have to find a way to stop the run and Fresno State wants to simplify the playbook and get to the ball faster. It sounds all well and good, but Coach DeRuyter will have to rely quite heavily on a handful of junior college transfers and talented, yet inexperienced freshmen to fill pretty big roles. The secondary is not in great shape either, especially considering they were not tested all that often last year. Both starting safeties are gone and players like Dalen Jones will be asked to emerge as leaders. With Jamal Ellis and Tyquwan Glass back at the cornerback spots, this could be a pretty good pass defense as long as the front four can get to the quarterback and the front seven as a whole can stop the run enough to force the opposition to throw every once in a while.
Because of extremely inconsistent quarterback play, the Fresno State offense was rarely a threat last year. In the win against Hawaii, Zack Greenlee had the team’s only good game at the quarterback position. He was inconsistent the rest of the time, as were Kilton Anderson, Chason Virgil and Ford Childress. Virgil, a 6-1 freshman, will likely head into the fall with the job to lose, but we’ve been down this road before. Last year it was Greenlee who was supposed to lead the way, but he looked bad against Abilene Christian in the opener. Virgil played a lot against Ole Miss in game two, but got hurt and missed the rest of the year and then everybody else got their shots. From an outsider’s point of view, it almost seems like Virgil is the favorite only because we did not see him play bad as much last year compared to Anderson and Childress. And that’s not a good sign. The ground game is going to suffer without Marteze Waller and three starting offensive linemen, so this is a group that is going to have to pass the ball.
The Bottom Line:
Reaching six wins will be tough for this team. Non-conference home games against Sacramento State and Tulsa are winnable, but there is a tough stretch of Mountain West games before the Bulldogs end at home against Hawaii and San Jose State. Fresno State should feel pretty good if they can get to their bye week at 4-6 and take their chances beating Hawaii and San Jose State at home, but that would involve beating a pretty even Tulsa team and pulling off a couple of upsets in MW play. Four or five total wins is a more likely scenario and the big question then is whether or not that is enough for Coach DeRuyter to keep his job.
Projected Bowl: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 136.8 (104th in nation, 11th in conference)
Passing Offense: 178.3 (107, 8)
Total Offense: 315.2 (121, 12)
Scoring Offense: 22.3 (107, 10)
Rushing Defense: 234.7 (116, 11)
Pass Defense: 211.5 (49, 9)
Total Defense: 446.2 (101, 10)
Scoring Defense: 38.1 (118, 12)
Turnover Margin: -0.25 (87, 9)
Sacks: 2.33 (43, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 2.25 (75, 7)