Previewing the Fresno State Bulldogs
Fresno State comes into this game winner of four straight and seven of their last nine games. Their biggest win of the season came in a 32-30 upset of No. 21 Colorado State. In Fresno State's final game of the regular season, the Bulldogs dismantled Louisiana Tech 45-13.
The Bulldogs are led on offense by redshirt freshman quarterback Paul Pinegar (6-4, 214). Pinegar has completed 214 of 372 passes this season for 2,741 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Last time out, Pinegar completed 18 of 27 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns at Louisiana Tech.
Junior Rodney Davis (5-8, 210) leads the rushing attack for the Bulldogs. Davis finished the season as the second leading rusher in the WAC with 1,433 yards on 276 carries. The talented back finished with seven touchdowns. Also a receiving threat, Davis had 18 receptions for 159 yards on the season. Paving the way for Davis is sophomore H-back Stephen Spach (6-4, 240).
The receiving corps will be without it's leading receiver who was ruled academically ineligible for post-season play. Junior Marque Davis (6-0, 185), finished the season with 64 receptions for 956 yards and seven touchdowns. Speedy freshman Jermaine Jamison (6-3, 190) is a major threat as he averaged 17.3 yards on 34 receptions. Jamison finished the season with four touchdowns and will be counted on to take up the slack in Davis' absence. Junior Deandre Gilbert (6-0, 170) finished up a stellar season as he recorded 28 receptions for 386 yards and five touchdowns. At tight end sophomore Duncan Reid (6-6, 215) led the way with 23 receptions for 307 yards. Junior tight end Alec Greco chipped in 15 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Leadership along the offensive front comes from two seniors, center Rodney Michael (6-4, 305) and right tackle Joe Schey (6-6, 330). The other three starters along the offensive line are redshirt freshman left tackle Matt Stevenson (6-7, 280), senior left guard Victor Taifane (6-5, 335), and redshirt freshman right guard Dartagnon Shack (6-2, 309). Taifane is starting in place of academically ineligible junior Fitu Tu'ua (6-5,325). Although helping Fresno State to a 374 yards per game average, the offensive line gave up 29 sacks on the season.
Fresno State runs a traditional 4-3 scheme on defense. Leading the way is a strong front four led by senior nose tackle Jason Stewart (6-1, 285). Stewart recorded 74 total tackles, five tackles for loss, and four sacks on the season. Junior Del Hawkins (6-0, 270) chipped in 32 tackles and two sacks from the other tackle spot. The Bulldogs will be without their sack specialist in senior defensive end Nick Burley (6-4, 250). Burley finished with 71 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks, which resulted in losses of 61 yards but has been ruled academically ineligible for the game. Junior Asa Taylor (6-2, 230) will get the start. Sophomore Claude Sanders (6-3, 230) fills the other end position. Sanders recorded 59 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and five sacks.
Junior middle linebacker Marc Bailey (6-1, 235) leads the linebackers. Bailey had 68 tackles, one interception, and one sack on the season. At outside linebacker junior Bryce McGill (5-11, 210) and freshman Kyle Goodman (6-0, 230) lead the Bulldogs. Goodman is staring in place of senior Sam Williams (6-5, 245) as was ruled academically ineligible.
The leading tackler of the Bulldog defense is senior free safety Cameron Worrell (5-11, 205). One of the better athletes on the team, Worrell recorded 104 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, and five interceptions on the season. At strong safety, the Bulldogs feature redshirt freshman James Sanders (5-11, 200). Sanders will be finishing up his first year as a full-time starter recording 76 tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks, and one interception. Redshirt Freshman Raymond Washington (6-1, 200) and junior Dee Meza (5-9, 185) man the cornerback spots. Washington will get the start in place of senior Demorieux Reneau (6-0, 195) who is academically ineligible.
If the game comes down to the kicking game, the Bulldogs are in good shape with one of the better kickers in the country in senior Asen Asparuhov (6-5, 215). Asparuhov is 40/40 on extra points and 20/26 on field goals this season with his longest being from 52 yards. Senior punter Jason Simpson (6-1, 195) is averaging 41.0 yards per punt this season and has pinned the opposing team inside the twenty on twenty different occasions.
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