The Bulldogs, after suffering a tough loss to Tulsa last week, will return home for their first conference matchup against San Diego State.
Head coach Tim DeRuyter will continue to stick to his philosophy of physicality and fanaticism, which he preaches in both the team’s offense and defense.
“During this last weekend we felt that we missed our opportunity to win a game against a really quality opponent on the road. In all three phases we didn’t get it done,” DeRuyter said.
“We have a standard we’re trying to play to. It’s a teaching of a process for our players and also for our coaches.”
With Homecoming weekend just two days away, the Bulldogs won’t be relaxing. They will be busily studying film against Tulsa and preparing to face San Diego State’s potent offense.
“We’re excited that we have San Diego State coming to Bulldog Stadium. Another quality opponent,” DeRuyter said.
Fresno State’s defense and special teams will be the primary focus that DeRuyter, the coaches and the players will work on. The game plan for stopping the Aztec’s offense is by continuing to bring speed and physicality.
“Takeaways happen when you’re running to the ball; when you’re being physical and aggressive,” Toth said.
“We’re (the defense) working on running our butts to the ball,” defensive coordinator Nick Toth said.
San Diego State brings a passing attack in senior quarterback Ryan Katz who is a transfer from Oregon State. Katz who is a skilled player has passed for 797 yards and has seven touchdowns on the season.
“The quarterback has a really good arm and can make plays on the field. And they have two types of running backs. They also have some real athletic receivers too.” DeRuyter said.
The Aztecs also bring a dynamic rushing duo in running backs Adam Muema and Walter Kazee. Muema leads San Diego State’s offense in rushing, netting 456 yards along with four touchdowns. Kazee is also a formidable offensive weapon, rushing for 332 yards and five touchdowns.
“Offensively, they’re a very balanced team. They’re going to start with the run. Andy Ludwig, their offensive coordinator, a familiar name around here, did a great job here. He has done a great job at San Diego State. They got two excellent running backs,” DeRuyter said.
The Aztecs bring speed and toughness to their defense. Junior defensive back Nat Berhe leads San Diego State with 22 solo tackles and one fumble recovery. The Aztecs in their first four games have won the takeaway battle as well. This could cause potential problems for the Bulldogs’ offense.
“They present a ton of problems because schematically they do some different things. They’re a pressure-base defense. They create a lot of havoc,” DeRuyter said.
This week’s preparation for the game against San Diego State has the ’Dogs focusing on winning the takeaway battle again. Safety Phillip Thomas, defensive back Derron Smith and the Bulldogs’ defense will continue to practice coverage drills.
“We want to stop the run first and make them get in third down situations. And then get some turnovers off that,” said defensive back Derron Smith.
DeRuyter’s plan for winning the takeaway battle has been consistent from the start of the season. He has implemented his mantra in everything he’s taught and instilled into the team’s offensive and defensive schemes.
“Hey, if we can get to 20, we’ll be making progress. But we can’t have multiple turnover games like we did Saturday,” DeRuyter said.
Fresno State will begin its first Mountain West Conference game against the Aztecs at Bulldog Stadium this Saturday. However, the run for the MWC championship begins for the ’Dogs and they will look to start off on a strong foot.
DeRuyter said, “We talked about it on Saturday after the (Tulsa) game. We reminded our guys that our number one goal starts this week and we’re undefeated in the league. Our slate is clean and we have a very good team in San Diego coming in.”