"That doesn't happen too often. I'm very pleased with the way our run game clicked tonight, especially starting one true freshman (Patrick Junen) at left guard," said Co-Offensive Coordinator Mike Markuson. "Patrick had a bright-eyed look to him. There was no indication in the game his head was swimming much or he was not getting the job done. I'm sure he made some mistakes but we'll get those corrected tomorrow. He was in the meeting room every day this week watching film and he handled things well, but I am proud of all of them.
"We really stressed not letting go of the rope this week and they didn't. They went back to work Sunday and it carried over to the game tonight."
The Rebels gashed the Bulldogs a lot right up the middle, behind RG Logan Clair, C A.J. Hawkins and Junen.
"We watched a lot of film on Fresno and some teams have had some success going right at them," said Mike. "We ran some inside zone blocking and zone read stuff and it worked pretty well. We felt we could run on them and we did.
"As the game wore on, we also started building some confidence on the OL, and that was good to see. We broke a couple of long ones and that pumps up any OL. Nothing against Fresno, but they aren't really as good as what we will see in the next few weeks. We felt we could block them and we did. At the same time, it's good to get some rhythm and confidence going before we hit some of our tougher opponents."
TB Brandon Bolden rushed for 228 yards on just 19 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown. Freshman Jeff Scott ran for 92 yards on 11 carries, including a 55-yard TD.
"Brandon was outstanding. We got him going downhill and he was hitting it hard up in there," Markuson added. "He ran hard. He was determined. He has to do that every week.
"Jeff came in and gave us a boost as well. You like that speed and the ability to get it on the edge."
The Rebels didn't pass much, but they were effective as QB Jeremiah Masoli was 8-12 for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"The way we were running the ball, we didn't need to throw much. I wish we could do that every game," Mike laughed. "We still had a couple of turnovers that we have to clean up - Jeremiah fumbled once and threw an ill-advised interception to give them a short field, but overall he threw the ball very well when we needed a pass play."
The Rebs put up 578 yards on 59 plays, real close to 10 yards a play.
"This is something we can build on and what I liked best of all was that we seemed to be playing with more focus and intensity. We have to keep doing that and building on this some more," Markuson closed.
Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix saw his team shut down the Fresno run game, but they were riddled for 390 yards through the air.
"I am still seeing some improvement and seeing some better execution, but we are still making too many mistakes," said Nix. "We are playing a lot more guys and a lot of them are young. They are going to make mistakes, we just hope they learn from them along the way.
"We need them to learn in a hurry."
Nix was a little down due to losing senior DE Kentrell Lockett, most likely for the year, to a knee injury.
"I told him I was heartbroken for him. I know how hard he has worked to get in this position and that whatever I could do to help him out, I was there for him," Nix stated. "This is a big loss for us. Kentrell is a playmaker and we can't afford to lose playmakers.
"He has not only given us 100%, he's played well and he's been a leader. I'm sick about it."
With Lockett out, the Rebels defensive coaches had to turn more to Gerald Rivers, D.T. Shackelford and even take the redshirt off of freshman Delvin Jones.
"Several guys are definitely going to get an opportunity to play now. Delvin will get more reps, Gerald needs to step up and I think Carlos Thompson - who has a groin injury right now - will get more reps," Tyrone explained. "It's going to require some youth in our defense to step up and become more of a factor.
"Delvin was eager to play. He has a good attitude and he wants to do well. He picked up on what we wanted him to do pretty well. We made a decision Wednesday we were going to try to play him because we thought D.T. was going to be out. Lucky we got him ready because then Kentrell went down. Delvin will get better week-in-and-week-out."
On the Fresno passing game, Nix had several thoughts.
"First of all, that QB - Ryan Colburn - is pretty good and they have some good receivers," said Ty. "They did a nice job. Having said that, we helped them sometimes when we didn't make a tackle or we lost our coverage lanes when he scrambled.
"That's that youth again. Guys have to stay in their areas. In the first game, it was more on the safeties, but we got that addressed pretty good. Tonight, it was more about the corners. We'll have to get that shored up and addressed. We have to get the corners and safeties on the same page. When the QB scrambles, we have to stay with our responsibilities. We don't need them to make a tackle on a QB. All that comes with experience."
The bottom line was that the Rebels, on both sides of the ball, turned it loose and played with more abandon.
CB Tony Grimes also got extensive playing time against the Bulldogs.
"Tony loves to compete. He gave up the first TD, but he came back and competed OK the rest of the way. It's tough in this league to play as a true freshman, but Tony is willing," Nix stated. "He's learning on the run and under fire. He'll be fine in time.
"Tony will make some mistakes, but along the way he'll get better and better."
Yes, they still made mistakes, but they didn't make the tentative, hesitation mistakes they have been making.
"I saw signs of us being more aggressive, on both sides of the ball. I saw more reckless abandon. We were relentless more often and were flying around more," Tyrone stated. "We made them one-dimensional by stopping their run game, but we didn't play the pass as well as I would like.
"If we keep playing with that type of intensity though, we will get those kinks worked out more and more."