What We Learned Against Sacramento State

Now two games into the season, and things are no clearer. Here is some thoughts on what the Red Wave learned from last nights home game against Sacramento State.

On paper Fresno State dominated the game, in reality it was no where near a dominate performance. The final score Fresno State 31 Sacramento State 3. A score which most of the fan base expected by halftime. Instead the Bulldogs went in at the half with a score of 10 - 3. It wasn’t until the 4th quarter that the bulldogs were able to get separation on the scoreboard. Unlike the Nebraska game which left me with some answers, this game left me scratching my head.

I know what you’re thinking, the Bulldogs played a vanilla offense this week vs a lower tier football program. I agree, but there’s a fine line between a vanilla offense and a sloppy ineffective one. The Bulldogs came into this game with a mentality to get the running game going which resulted in a three and out on the Bulldogs first series. Not exactly the start they were looking for.

So what did we learn from this game. If you ask most fans, the game at times was far from entertaining. Sacramento State came into this with a chip on their shoulder, and rightfully so. For three quarters the Hornets defense went toe to toe with the Bulldogs offense. Last week the offensive line looked like it held pretty well against a Nebraska team. This week the offensive line looked confused and out of sorts. Sacramento State controlled the line and at times were in the backfield quickly and often. The offensive line just looked confused and disorganized, something that just can’t happen next week against a very good Toledo team.

The problems that the offensive line had added to the ineffectiveness of the run game early on. Last week the running game was pretty much non existent so the Bulldogs wanted to establish the run. Unfortunately the struggles with the running game continued early on in the first quarter. By the end of the game Fresno State was able to rush for 229 yards once the offensive line made their adjustments. Dontel James finished the night with 121 of those yards with one touchdown.

Now for the passing game. Last week the receivers struggled to catch the balls once it hit them in the hands. This week they did a much better job of hauling in the passes. Jamire Jordan finished the night with 100 yards receiving. Chason Virgil passed for a career-best 274 yards and two touchdowns but did not look sharp. It's very obvious that Virgil will go growing pains this season. The good news for Virgil is that from 25 yards and under he’s very accurate. The bad news is that anything beyond that he struggles. With an offense that's predicated on stretching the field this could be a problem this season.


Virgil’s issues how ever can be fixed. At times when throwing longer passes he failed to set his feet which at often times resulted in inaccurate passes, something that can be corrected as the season goes on. The deep pass however may be harder to fix. Virgil has yet to hit a deep pass in two games missing wide open players. Virgil has overthrown his receivers by an average of at least five yards. In order for this offense find success this season Virgil must become more consistent with his deep ball.

Now the defense which again kept the Bulldogs in the game until the offense was able to figure things out. The bad news was that it took the defense shutting down Sacramento State for four quarters to do so. Tyquwan Glass continues to show that he’s the leader of this defense and the defensive line stepped up to slow down the Hornets run game.

Final thoughts, Fresno State may have come out on top on the scoreboard but it wasn’t pretty. If the Bulldogs continue to struggle with getting the offense going early in games, It could be another long season.

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