#47 Fresno State Football 2014 Preview

Fresno State Bulldogs

Overall Rank: #47
#3 Mountain West

Fresno State Team Page#47 Fresno State Football 2014 PreviewBuy Fresno State Football Tickets

Fresno State put together an amazing 2013 season. They started 10-0 with wins over teams like Rutgers, Boise State and San Diego State. Their bid for a perfect regular season ended in a thriller at San Jose State, but the Bulldogs still went to the Mountain West title game and defeated Utah State. After that they suffered their second loss of the season against USC in the Las Vegas Bowl. This will be a very, very different team, but the defense should be able to carry the load while the new look offense adjusts to life without quarterback Derek Carr.

2013 Record: 11-2, 7-1
2013 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. USC (L 20-45)
Coach: Tim DeRuyter (20-6 at Fresno State, 20-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dave Schramm
Defensive Coordinator: Nick Toth

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Josh Quezada, RB, 807 yards
Passing: Brian Burrell, QB, 51 yards
Receiving: Josh Harper, WR, 1,011 yards
Tackles: Karl Mickelsen, LB, 97
Sacks: Ejiro Ederaine, LB, 10.0
Interceptions: Derron Smith, S, 7

Other Key Returnees: RB Marteze Waller, OL Cody Wichmann, LB Kyrie Wilson, S Charles Washington, DL Tyeler Davison

Key Losses: QB Derek Carr, WR Devante Adams, WR Isaiah Burse, TE Marcel Jensen, OL Austin Wentworth, DE Nikko Motta

The Fresno State defense will allow some yards, especially through the air as is so often the case in the MW. However, they do create turnovers in their 3-4 scheme. With all four starting linebackers returning, that will be the strength of the defense this year. Karl Mickelsen and Kyrie Wilson are back to man the middle and those two combined for 183 tackles last season. Ejiro Ederaine and Donavon Lewis will be on the outside. Ederaine tallied 10.0 sacks as a junior, leading the Bulldogs, while Lewis was second on the squad with 5.0. Those four are all quality playmakers. Speaking of playmakers, free safety Derron Smith recorded seven interceptions and was tied for second on the team with 87 tackles. Strong safety Charles Washington recorded 71 tackles and picked off one pass in 2013. The inconsistent play of the cornerbacks was a big reason why this Fresno State team was not particularly impressive in pass defense. Injuries were largely to blame and the pass defense should be much better now. The front three will be led by Tyeler Davison, who will likely slide over to the end spot after playing nose guard last season.

Fresno State ranked first in the country in passing offense, third in total offense and sixth in scoring offense. This is a team that will put up big passing numbers under Coach Tim DeRuyter, but there are some big names to replace. Carr threw for 5,083 yards and 50 touchdowns, with just eight interceptions. Obviously he was a unique quarterback and is not going to be easy to replace. His favorite targets, Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse, are also gone. Adams caught 131 passes for 1,719 yards and 24 touchdowns during his senior season, while Burse added 100 catches for 1,026 yards and six scores. Taking over for Carr will be either Brandon Connette or Brian Burrell. Connette, a transfer from Duke, is a mobile quarterback who adds a different dynamic to the offense. Last year he threw for 1,212 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Blue Devils and rushed for 337 yards and 14 more scores. Amazingly, Fresno State still has a 1,000 yard receiver on the roster despite losing two others. Josh Harper will be the new go-to target, with players like Justin Johnson, Aaron Peck and Greg Watson looking to help fill in the gaps. Expect running backs Josh Quezada and Marteze Waller to do more this year. They did rush for 807 yards and 646 yards, respectively, but the running game has been there as a change of pace and to bleed clock at the end of games. That will not be the case this year.

The Bottom Line:
The offense is going to need some time to figure everything out, but that is not going to be easy with Fresno State’s first three games against USC, Utah and Nebraska. It is possible that the Bulldogs will start 0-3 and lose confidence and momentum right out of the gate. Even if that happens, this is a team that should be able to compete for a West division title with San Diego State and Nevada.

Projected Bowl: Hawaii Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 153.0 (78th in nation, 10th in conference)
Passing Offense: 394.8 (1, 1)
Total Offense: 547.8 (3, 1)
Scoring Offense: 43.4 (6, 1)
Rushing Defense: 148.2 (41, 4)
Pass Defense: 282.6 (117, 12)
Total Defense: 430.8 (95, 5)
Scoring Defense: 30.3 (86, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.2 (48, 5)
Sacks:  3.08 (6, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 0.85 (7, 2)


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