Fresno State senior running back Marteze Waller picks up yards after contact during the Oct. 10 Homecoming game against Utah State at Bulldog Stadium. (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
With a winless conference record and a five-game losing streak, the Fresno State football team is sitting at the bottom of the West Division in the Mountain West Conference.
The Bulldogs (1-5, 0-3) hope to break the losing streak this weekend when they host UNLV in their only Friday game of the season.
“The fact that the players are not having success is killing every one of us,” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “As coaches we have to be accountable. Either we have to get the players coached up or find guys who will do it.”
After making his first start in Saturday’s 56-14 loss against Utah State, redshirt freshman quarterback Kilton Anderson is expected to start Friday against UNLV.
Anderson finished Saturday’s game with 10 completions, 112 passing yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
“I do think [Anderson] will improve, and he’ll do a much better job of running our offense,” DeRuyter said. “[Anderson] is a high-energy guy. He’ll continue to calm down and process all of it. He’s good at communicating.”
The ‘Dogs started the season with sophomore Zack Greenlee, but have started three other quarterbacks since then, making them the only FBS team that has started four different signal callers this season.
“Greenlee wasn’t performing at the level he needed to,” DeRuyter said. “We gave him a few chances and thought it was time to give [Anderson] a shot.”
UNLV (2-4, 1-1) is in its first season under head coach Tony Sanchez. The Rebels are averaging 28.3 points per game, but also allowing 26.8 points per contest.
The Rebels’ defense has collected 10 interceptions, but the offense has thrown seven.
Last weekend, the Rebels lost at home in overtime against San Jose State. But the Rebels didn’t spend much time feeling down about the loss.
Win or lose, they give themselves 24 hours to forget the previous game and to start focusing on the next game.
“Coach gives us a 24-hour rule,” UNLV defensive back Blake Richmond said. “That’s with a win or loss, so it gets out of our system pretty quick.”
The teams are hoping to take advantage of Friday’s game, which will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
“You’re recruiting across the country, especially in the West and Southwest, and we can tell people to tune in and watch it on national TV. It’s a big deal,” Sanchez said. “At the same time you get money. That helps the athletic department, helps the football program. The more opportunities we have, the better it is for everybody.”
Although he’s excited for the national TV exposure, Sanchez said he prefers not to have a Friday game.
“[Friday] is a special night around the country, and it should be reserved for high school football,” he said. “Saturday is what you want to do because it doesn’t impact their educational week. But every once in awhile you have to step outside of the box, as long as you’re not doing it all the time.”
For the ‘Dogs, Friday’s game will be another chance to prove that there is still hope in Fresno.
“Our guys come out every week with a resolve to get better,” DeRuyter said. “Our coaches are pouring through tape – finding ways to teach things better, to scheme things, to give our guys an advantage on game day nights.”