Fresno State Begins Tedford Era Hosting An FCS Team
How will Fresno State look with its new head coach?
There are three Mountain West games this week, who is our staff taking?
The Fresno State Bulldogs begin anew this year with head coach Jeff Tedford taking over for the fired Tim DeRuyter. While Tedford has made changes to the scheme, there will be some familiarity with Chason Virgil being named the starting quarterback for the season. Virgil is coming off a poor 2016 campaign that saw him benched for a supposed injury, but really felt more like a learning lesson.
Tedford will want to kick things off the right way, a win over Incarnate Word is just the ticket to get boosters giving back to the school as they try to complete a set of renovations that just got way more complicated. The next team the Bulldogs will play are the Alabama Crimson Tide, so Tedford will want to try and put in a respectable performance if only to get the troops ready to play physically again.
For their part, Incarnate Word are coming off a 3-8 campaign that saw them finish 8th in the Southland. The Cardinals have senior Taylor Laird returning as their signal-caller. Laird only completed 53.3% of his passes, so he will need to step up his accuracy if he’s to hold off Sean Brophy.
If Incarnate Word can run Dorland Fields and Desmond Hite while Laird puts up a good game, the Cardinals may be able to steal the win like they mention in their pre-game notes.
WEEK 1: Incarnate Word Hornets (0-0) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (0-0)
WHEN: Saturday, September 2 — 7:00 PM PT
WHERE: Bulldog Stadium; Fresno, CA (41,031)
RADIO: The broadcast can be found in and around Fresno on the Central Valley’s local ESPN Radio affiliates: 940 (in English) and 1600 (in Spanish) AM.
SERIES RECORD: This is the first meeting between the two schools.
WEBSITES: GoBulldogs.com, the official Fresno State athletics website | CardinalAthletics.com.com, the official Incarnate Word athletics website
What to watch – Fresno State
Who wants it more? Both of these programs are coming off of years they’d like to forget. For both schools, the rebuild starts now and it begins with this game. Jeff Tedford has been a media darling for as long as he’s been coaching, but how much has the game changed since Tedford last coached? His hiring of coordinators suggests he’s open to the current model of college football, but everyone wants to know if the wins and respectability will restored through Tedford.
Fresno State may have experience a significant amount of turnover, but they’re also returning a lot of production. Guys like DaMari Scott and KeeSean Johnson have the ability to create. Johnson is coming off a season where he averaged 11.7 yards per catch, but only had 66 receptions for his dazzling 773 yards receiving. If Derrion Grim and Jamire Jordan can find a way to get involved early, this Fresno State team may be an explosive team.
On defense, the ‘Dogs will rely on 7 Malik Forrester and Nathan Madsen on the interior of the line and Tobena Okeke and Robert Stanley on the edges. The switch from a 3-4 to a 4-3 isn’t going to be straight-forward for Fresno State, but they have enough at each position to make it work while Tedford continues to build.
This is a game that Fresno State should win going away. There shouldn’t be much by way of trouble if the Bulldogs are playing up to their potential. That said, this team was bad enough last year that Incarnate Word beating them to start 2017 wouldn’t be the biggest surprise of Week 1.
Having said that, it really is a tune-up game for the Bulldogs and the Cardinals know it. They’re there for a paycheck and Fresno’s there to prove they have it before Alabama.