Special team plays, good defense and smart quarterbacking. Fresno State head football coach Jeff Tedford would be hard pressed to ask much more from his team in their season opening demolition of the Idaho Vandals 79-13.
The ‘Dogs seemed intent on getting their second-year, senior quarterback Marcus McMaryion comfortable early by mixing up the play calling.
A mix of short throws, perimeter runs and bruising rushes up the middle had the Vandals defense on their heels early and often.
It was a sight that Bulldogs fans were looking for from McMaryion. Fans were expecting a huge step forward after a very solid season in 2017, leading the ‘Dogs to one of the greatest turnarounds from one season to the next in college football history.
McMaryion completed 19 of 26 pass attempts for 207 yards and zero touchdowns.
But, it’s not as if the Bulldogs really needed McMaryion to be good. Not with a veteran defense lead by the likes of Tank Kelly, Jaron Bryant and a host of others.
In the first half alone, the ‘Dogs blocked two field goals, both returned for touchdowns. Bryant returned both blocks, and the defense returned an interception for a touchdown, all while allowing only 13 points.
Bryant said that during preparation for the game, the team identified a weakness in Idaho’s field goal unit.
“[Defensive coordinator Bert] Watts talked about it all week. If we rush one person off the edge, the end guy is going to step out and create that hole and that is what happened tonight,” Bryant said.
Tedford attributed this success to his team’s tireless efforts on plays that typically don’t result in scores, but when executed properly can have immense impact on the outcome of games.
“We don’t take field goals off. It’s not a play off, it’s a chance to make a play. That effort gave us two big plays tonight,” Tedford said. “Those type of plays just reinforce the effort you need to get it done.”
Admittedly, the Bulldogs could have won this game even if they didn’t even trot their offense out onto the field.
But, the offense did come out on the field, and that was just fine with sophomore running back Jordan Mims. Midway through the third quarter, Mims already halved his touchdown total of six from the entire 2017 season.
Mims said that this type of performance will not be uncommon “as long as our line and our quarterbacks are doing their job.”
On the night, Mims rushed nine times for 36 yards along with the three trips to the endzone.
Halfway through the third quarter and the game well in hand; 58-12 type of well in hand, Tedford appeared to attempt to literally call off the Dogs by inserting redshirt junior Jorge Reyna in at quarterback to replace McMaryion.
Reyna foiled that plan. He threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Derrion Grim and the rout continued without missing a beat.
The offense, whether they needed to or not, racked up 486 yards and an unholy 6.7 yards gained per play.
Time will tell if the Bulldogs can carry the momentum to their next game. The ‘Dogs will hit the road against the University of Minnesota on Sept. 8.
The Golden Gophers defeated New Mexico State 48-10 on Saturday. This sets up a matchup of two teams coming off of dominant victories.