Jackson Moore - Scout

Upcomming two-game road trip is make or break for 2016 Fresno State Bulldogs

Many have written off this year's Fresno State team, but BarkBoard.com takes a look at why the next two games are what will truly make or break the 2016 Bulldogs.

Fresno State Head Coach Tim DeRuyter’s message on Monday was one of confidence, that he has a capable team, and hope, that the young team is close to turning the corner - and he may have a point.

Though we cut DeRuyter zero slack for being a fifth-year coach with the a young and undeveloped team, perhaps the 2016 Bulldogs have been written off too soon. In the context of the last three seasons it is understandable as to why so many red wavers stayed home last Saturday. The 2016 team can still prove they are different, but only have two weeks to realistically do it.

The 22 starters on this Fresno State team have an average of 3.09 years spent in the program. That means the majority of the contributors on this team do not know success, unless you count the few who were a part of the 2014 team made the Mountain West Championship Game with a final record of 6-8. They are led by an almost entirely new group of coaches that were not even around for last year's 3-9 year.http://www.scout.com/college/fresno-state/story/1711901-insider-practice...

The vibe from many at practice this week was of newfound confidence over the team's close loss to Tulsa, rather than hanging heads - or as DeRuyter put is "disappointment but not discouragement."

“When something good happens to our team and we find a way to break through this thing, our guys are ready to explode,” DeRuyter told the media on Monday. “I think we will.”

Often times young teams simply don’t know how to win - they don’t have that killer instinct to knock out the opponent they lead by 31 points, and don’t know how to respond after being punched in the mouth on the road. If you watched Rodney Terry’s early Fresno State men’s basketball teams now turned into conference championships, you know what we’re talking about.http://www.scout.com/college/fresno-state/story/1711539-jamire-jordan-lo...

“We’re all growing up, it’s about time,” Fresno State sophomore receiver Jamire Jordan told BarkBoard.com “Me and KeeSean [Johnson], they threw us into the fire. You can kind of see it now, we’re maturing, we’re getting better with the system, the play calling. We’re knowing what everyone is doing on the field so it’s all starting to come together for me and him.

“With a young team, to get everybody jump started, that one win could be the one that starts it up. You never know what could happen."

But the ‘Dogs realistically only have two weeks to get that season-changing win. It’s a really small window and in early October too. A winnable game at UNLV became even more winnable this week when the Rebels’ starting quarterback Johnny Stanton was declared out with injury for this weekend’s game. UNLV is also one of only two FBS opponents that the ‘Dogs have defeated in their last 17 attempts as well, meaning the young Bulldogs know they are capable of winning Saturday.

Nevada will likely be a step up in competition the following week, but is also a winnable matchup. If the bulldogs are as close to breaking out as DeRuyter and others say, a win at UNLV could boost the team toward a second win against the Wolf Pack. That would make for a return of red wavers hungry for an upset over San Diego State on national television. With three winnable games in November, the 'Dogs could go bowling in this scenario.

Alternatively, there is no turning back if the Bulldogs drop both of these games. At 1-5 they would face a likely-ranked SDSU team at home on a Friday night when Central Valley football fans may head to Central vs Clovis High rather than Bulldog Stadium. After certainly falling to 1-6, the ‘Dogs face two more opponents that they will likely be big underdogs to - at Utah State and home versus Air Force on another Friday night. In this scenario the Bulldogs would likely be eliminated from bowl contention before November and host two of the emptiest home games ever to close the season versus Hawaii and San Jose State.

The Red Wave would not accept anything other than a change at that point.

So if you're pessimistic about the Bulldogs’ 1-3 start or if you’ve totally tuned out, we challenge you to stick it out for two more weeks. If DeRuyter and the 2016 Bulldogs can live up to their word, the dark days will already be behind them.


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