How Fresno State Can Beat Nevada
Here is what the Bulldogs must do to beat the Wolf Pack
Fresno State opens up league play vs. Nevada
The Bulldogs are off to another tepid start in non-conference play. They’re starting Mountain West play with Nevada and the Bulldogs have a chance to do some serious damage. All that is standing in their way are the Nevada Wolfpack. This isn’t a game that is on the national radar, Nevada enters at 0-4, Fresno State enters at 0-2 on the year. Both of these teams need a win if they’re going to have any hope of competing for a Mountain West crown. As poorly as both of these teams are playing, Saturday starts a new season for both of them.
While Fresno isn’t having a strong start to their season, they’ll have a number of things going for them against the Wolfpack. For starters, the ‘Pack are No. 112 in the nation in total scoring defense, giving up 35.8 points per game. Nevada are also tied for No. 91 in the nation for sacks allowed, giving up 2.5 per game. By comparison, Fresno State, despite playing Alabama and Washington, are tied at No. 14 in the nation for sacks allowed. The ‘Dogs only allow a single sack per game.
Fresno are also packing an awful passing defense, which could work against them if Ty Gangi can get Nevada’s Air-Raid offense woking. For their part, Fresno is packing the nation’s 65th-ranked scoring offense. Going along with Nevada’s 112th-ranked scoring defense is the nation’s 112th-ranked (asymmetrical) scoring offense. They’re scoring just under 20 points per game and the Bulldogs are putting up 30.7 points per game.
Fresno can win if they decide on a quarterback and stick with them. I’ve opined for some time now that Chason Virgil is too undersized to give Fresno the vaunted offense they imagined with his skill-set coming out of high school. Freshman running back Ronnie Rivers put up 118 yards and a touchdown on just 28 carries. The fact that he’s a freshman and has gone against ‘Bama and Washington should have stunted his overall yardage, but he’s got a robust 4.2 yards per attempt average.
Marcus McMaryion has 235 yards and two touchdowns while having been relegated to split duties and mop up, but Virgil’s lack of growth is giving head coach Jeff Tedford something to consider as the team moves forward. It seems very likely he will get the nod against Nevada and will likely provide a more stabilizing force under center. This Fresno State offense may not peak against Nevada, but optics and statistics suggest McMaryion is the future. The last coaching staff juggled during the out-of-conference schedule, but chose a quarterback as they entered into conference play.
If McMaryion finds his groove and Rivers establishes himself as a dominant runner early on, this Nevada team doesn’t look like they’re up for any meaningful competition. They may suprise, but Fresno has the tools to run riot over the ‘Pack and people will be expecting Tedford to assert some sort of authority in his tenure. Fresno brought him in to change the culture of losing, but Incarnate Word isn’t the type of big game they expected Tedford to hunt.
Now the Bulldogs have the chance to kick off Mountain West play with a thorough hiding of the Wolfpack. They can and they should beat Nevada. If Jeffrey Allison plays anywhere near the level he’s been playing, Rivers runs like the frosh talent he is, and the ‘Dogs continue to get production from receivers KeeSean Johnson and Da’Mari Scott, then this game ought not have a problem clearing the line of -9. This is their chance to come together for Fresno and in conference. Tedford should have them more than up to the task.