Oct 22, 2019

Bulldog Game Day: San Diego State

The ‘Dogs will need to spread the wealth between all of
the weapons, especially to wide receiver Isaiah Burse,
who led the ‘Dogs with 135 yards last week.
Esteban Cortez / The Collegian

Breakdown: Bulldogs

Fresno State has reached the end of its 13-game season and it hasn’t really turned out the way the ‘Dogs expected. Fresno State is currently 4-8, which is the worst record since 2006. With such a disappointing record, the ‘Dogs were eliminated from bowl contention a couple weeks ago and, the first time since that 2006 season. There is still plenty of left for the ‘Dogs going forward. The most important thing is for a win so they can have something to build off of going into the offseason. The second thing is to get some experience for some of the younger players that are expected to step into leadership roles in the future. Also at stake is the Oil  Can Trophy, which will restart a long-standing rivalry.

On offense, the ‘Dogs will need sophomore quarterback Derek Carr to get the ball in his playmakers’ hands, especially with sophomore Jalen Saunders on the deep ball. Carr will also have running back Robbie Rouse behind him to give him that security blanket in the run game. Another vital part of the offense has to be senior kicker Kevin Goessling, who became the all-time leading scorer in last week’s loss to San Jose State.

The defense will need to contain Ronnie Hillman if it wants the Aztec fans to leave Qualcomm Stadium with a bad taste in their mouths and get their fifth win the season.

Breakdown: Aztecs

This game on Saturday has much more on the line than any other nonconference game that Fresno State and San Diego State have played in this season. There is a prize for the winner of this matchup at Qualcomm Stadium: the right to the Oil Can Trophy.

This matchup also will restart the rivalry between the two schools that have battled it out 50 times in the series.With Fresno State’s impending move to the Mountain West Conference next season, this will give the ‘Dogs a first-hand look of an upcoming conference opponent.

The main focus for Fresno State will be on running back Ronnie Hillman, who is currently one of the top running backs in the nation. He is fourth in yards per game and fifth in total rushing yards. The ‘Dogs won’t be able to just focus on Hillman with senior Ryan Lindley behind center. Lindley has led the Aztecs to two consecutive seven-win seasons with the opportunity for San Diego State to pick up its eighth win on Saturday.

The San Diego State defense could also give Carr and company fits as it employs a 3-3-5 base defense with three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. At the center of this defense is linebacker Miles Burris, who has 17 tackles for loss and six sacks on the season.

Keys to Victory

1. Contain the Hillman

Fresno State faces probably one of the best running backs in the country on Saturday in Ronnie Hillman. He is currently fourth in the country in yards per game with 134.4 and fifth in total rushing yards. Fresno State will need to contain him to leave Qualcomm Stadium with a “W.”

2. Limit the ‘Big Play’

It is week 13 and this is still one the keys to victory because it has been an ongoing problem all year. This will be Fresno State’s final chance to right this problem up before the start of the offseason. San Diego State’s rushing attack will challenge the ‘Dogs.

3. Continue making plays

It’s Carr’s season finale and contining the trend of big-play threats is crucial. Look for Carr to find his top target Jalen Saunders and have  Rouse spell the aerial attack.

Position Matchups

When Fresno State runs:

Advantage – Fresno State

Junior Robbie Rouse could finish the season as one of the top running backs in the country, statistically. Rouse’s big numbers have been aided by his 309 carries on the season.

When San Diego State runs:

Advantage – San Diego State

This could be the Rouse versus Hillman show as both are among the top running backs in the nation. The Fresno State run defense is facing its stiffest test on the ground for the 2011 season.

When Fresno State passes:

Advantage – Fresno State

QB Derek Carr has been a consistent force in the passing game all season and needs to continue that in the final game of his inaugural season as a starter.

When San Diego State passes:

Advantage – San Diego State

Senior Ryan Lindley has had a down year compared to last year, but Fresno State has one of the worst pass defenses in the WAC.

Special teams:

Advantage – Even

Senior Kevin Goessling became the all-time leading scorer in Bulldog history this past Saturday and will try to continue his consistent play against the Aztecs.

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