Fresno State football preview for 2016, including keys to success for the Bulldogs, best players and season prediction.
What You Need To Know About Fresno State’s Offense
The attack went nowhere, finishing 121st in the nation with 315 yards per game. Scoring points, at times, was like pulling teeth.
Step One under new offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau is to ramp up the offensive line play. The team needs to replace three starters while finding some semblance of quality depth.
The quarterback situation needs to find the right guy to help get the more powerful attack going, and the thin running back corps needs to establish a decent rotation.
Key To The Fresno State Offense
Do the Bulldogs have the offensive linemen and the running backs to start powering the ball a bit more? New offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau will try to grind out the offense to settle things down. But the top two backs from last year are gone and the line needs bodies and options. Dejonte O’Neal is the best running back option, but he might end up at slot receiver – the team needs more backs. More than anything else, they need the line to be able to blast away.
What You Need To Know About Fresno State’s Defense
It’s up to new defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward to bring more of a pass rush and more big plays.
Can he instantly help the defense that finished 101st in the nation come up with the right combination on the inside?
There’s size on the interior, but there needs to be more experience and more attacking into the backfield.
The linebacking corps has potential and the secondary returns experienced, but overall the Bulldogs have to come up with more game-changing plays after going through way too many long droughts without takeaways.
Key To The Fresno State Defense
New defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward will mess around with the line to add more size and toughness on the inside. There’s bulk, but will Nathan Madsen move from the nose to the end? Can the 300-plus pounders hold up against the run after being crushed throughout last year? The Bulldogs were consistently lousy against anyone who tried running and stayed with it, and now that should change with the mixture of options up front.
Fresno State Football Will Be Far Better If …
The offense can score in the red zone. The team just isn’t good enough to whiff on its shots inside the 20, and last year it turned out to be a massive problem at times. First, the Bulldogs must get into scoring position. The 2013 team got in the red zone 71 times. The 2014 offense got there 55 times. Last year’s offense? 33.
Best Offensive Player
WR Jamire Jordan – The offense as a whole might have been a disappointment – to put it nicely – but Jordan was a bright spot for the future, coming up with a team-leading 46 catches for 540 yards and five touchdowns. He might not have been a deep threat, but he didn’t get a whole bunch of help from the quarterbacks. Even so, he was steady throughout the season, good for around three grabs a game. While he might be a thin target, the talent is there to do even more.
Best Defensive Player
LB Jeff Camilli – Built like a middle linebacker, the 6-2, 255-pounder can play inside or out, working his way into the lineup at times in his first few years before starring last season. The team’s leading returning tackler can rush the pass and can pop a little bit, but he’s not all that flashy. If he gets help from better play from the line to leave him free to roam, he should put up all-star numbers.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Chason Virgil – Or Ford Childress, or Kilton Anderson. Injuries and inconsistencies proved to be a major problem for the Bulldog quarterbacks last season, but there’s talent on the roster. Can Virgil stay in one piece? He got hurt early last season after being named the starter against Utah. A runner as well as a playmaker with his arm, he has the skills to do what the offense needs. Childress – a West Virginia transfer – got hurt last year, too, and Anderson struggled when he got his chances.
Fresno State’s Season Will Be A Success If …
The Bulldogs go bowling. A winning season would be terrific, but getting to six wins and a post-season appearance would be enough of a jump up after the disastrous 3-9 campaign. With a few tweaks and a relatively healthy run, there’s no reason the Bulldogs can’t win at home against Sacramento State, Tulsa, Hawaii and San Jose State – that beats 2015 right there. Take care of UNLV on the road and come up with an upset – at least what might appear to be an upset on the road against a Utah State, Nevada or Colorado State – and don’t make a mistake at home, and there it is.
Oct. 1 at UNLV – It’s the Mountain West opener and Fresno State needs it. The Bulldogs start a run of three conference games on the road in four weeks, and the home date against San Diego State is a doozy. Lose this, and they’ll for sure be underdogs in every game up until the home date against Hawaii – they might be even with a win over the Rebels. At the very least, a victory would be a strong way to start the conference slate.
Fun Stats From 2015
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:48 – Fresno State 27:12
– Rushing Yards: Opponents 2,816 – Fresno State 1,642
– Fourth Down Conversions: Opponents 14-of-24 (58%) – Fresno State 9-of-29 (31%)
Prediction For 2016
What’s going to happen to Fresno State football this season? Check out what the final record is going to be …