Fresno State Football Week 14 Preview


Juan Villa / The Collegian

Fresno State Bulldogs (7-4, 5-2 WAC) at New Mexico State Aggies (4-8, 1-6 WAC)

Game Day: Tonight, 5 p.m., at Aggie Memorial Stadium
Television: ESPN2 (Comcast Channel 33)
Radio: KMJ-AM 580 and KGST-AM 1600 (ESPN Deportes)

Bulldogs’ Three Keys to Victory:
1) Shoot down the air raid! If the Bulldogs can put the pressure on Holbrook and stifle the passing game, then the road to victory will be easy.
2) Air it out Tommy! Brandstater needs to take advantage of a poor Aggie pass defense. He and Marlon Moore should look to have an encore performance.
3) Don’t look too far ahead. While it is really exciting to be back in a bowl game, Fresno State needs to focus on beating New Mexico State. An 8-4 record looks a heck of a lot better than 7-5. If Fresno State plays “Bulldog football,” then this game should be over early.

New Mexico State player to watch: Quarterback Chase Holbrook
Andrew Riggs / The Collegian

In the land of enchantment…
Wins Against: Southeastern Louisiana 35-14, Texas-El Paso 29-24, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 20-17 and Idaho 45-31
Losses to: New Mexico 44-34, Auburn 55-20, Boise State 58-0, Louisiana Tech 22-21, Hawaii 50-13, Nevada 40-38, San Jose State 51-17 and Utah State 35-17
2006 Record: 4-8, 2-6 WAC (7th)
Head Coach: Hal Mumme (Third Season)
Offense: Air raid
Defense: 3-4
Key Players: H-Back Derek DuBois, WR A.J. Harris, LB Dante Floyd
Series Record: Fresno State leads 13-0
Last Meeting: 2006 – Fresno State won 23-18 in Fresno

Fresno State player to watch: Running back Anthony Harding
Juan Villa / The Collegian

Position Match-ups
When Fresno State Runs: Fresno State
Harding has shown the capability to fill the void left by Mathews and Miller.

When New Mexico State Runs: Fresno State
Aggies’ running game is in the bottom third of the conference statistically.

When Fresno State Passes: Fresno State
The Aggies have the second-worst pass defense in the conference and Brandstater is on fire.

When New Mexico State Passes: New Mexico State
The air raid offense is a hard thing to stop, but Fresno State should be able to contain it.

When Fresno State Kicks: Fresno State
Clint Stitser and Kyle Zimmerman need to keep the ball away from DuBois on the kicking teams.

When New Mexico State Kicks: Fresno State
A.J. Jefferson is out with an injury, but Clifton Smith will be itching to take one into the end zone.

Breakdown: Bulldogs

Last weekend’s victory was a big statement for the Fresno State program. The Bulldogs denied a BCS conference team the right to play in a bowl game. For the seniors, it was their final game at Bulldog Stadium, but they all know that there is still a lot to play for.

Last season the Bulldogs barely edged out the Aggies 23-18 at Bulldog Stadium. You can bet Fresno State will be looking to make a statement tonight in Las Cruces.

A bowl berth has already been clinched, but this final regular-season game is a must-win for Fresno State. If the Bulldogs can end the season with an 8-4 record, then they will have taken a step forward in the right direction this season.

Offense:

• What can you say about Tom Brandstater? Last week he was absolutely on fire. Brandstater was 23 of 29 passing for 313 yards and two scores. He also rushed for a score. He might have to do it again tonight if the game turns into a shootout.

• Sophomore running back Anthony Harding was the savior for the running game last weekend. He ran for 115 yards and a touchdown. With Ryan Mathews still recovering from an ankle injury and Lonyae Miller banged up with a bruised quadriceps muscle, Harding will need to be the catalyst for the ground game against the Aggies. Senior Clifton Smith saw limited action Saturday due to a hip injury, but will play tonight.

• The receiving corps has started to come into its own in the last couple of games. Sophomore Marlon Moore had nine catches for 134 yards last week and two scores. Seyi Ajirotutu had five grabs of his own to go with 76 yards. With Bear Pascoe still nursing an ankle injury, reserve tight end Isaac Kinter will need to continue his excellent play.

Defense:

• The Fresno State secondary will be faced with the task of stopping New Mexico State’s offense, which is the second-best passing offense in the conference. The Aggies have passed for 3,992 yards this season, averaging 332.7 yards passing per game.

• The secondary will be without reserve safety Lorne Bell, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury Saturday.

• The key for the Bulldogs defense will be putting the pressure on New Mexico State quarterback Chase Holbrook. The Aggies have allowed 27 sacks this season. If Fresno State can take away the passing game, it will turn into a blowout for the Bulldogs.

Breakdown: Aggies

New Mexico State thought they had a shot at getting to a bowl game this season, but that dream faded fast in the month of November. The Aggies have lost their last four games and find themselves at the bottom tier of the conference standings. Fresno State ended its seven-game losing streak last season with a win over the Aggies, and New Mexico State would like nothing more than to return the favor.

Coach Hal Mumme’s air raid offense has turned more into a crop-duster, as of late. With the Bulldogs coming into town, the Aggies are looking for an upset and the opportunity to end the season on a high note.

Offense:

• New Mexico State’s air raid offense is anchored by junior quarterback Chase Holbrook. He ranks eighth in the NCAA in total offense, averaging 321.9 yards per game. This season he has passed for 3,543 yards, 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

• Holbrook’s favorite target, All-WAC wide receiver Chris Williams, suffered a broken collarbone and is out for the season. Stepping in nicely has been junior A.J. Harris. He owns the school record with 183 career receptions. This season he has totaled 73 catches for 525 yards and two scores.

• H-back Derek DuBois is a versatile target for Holbrook in the air raid offense. He has 55 catches for 708 yards and three touchdowns.

Defense:

• Linebacker Dante Floyd leads the Aggies with 115 total tackles this season. He also has 12 tackles for a loss and four sacks, which also leads the team.

• Freshman defensive back Davon House has been stalwart in the New Mexico State secondary. He has returned four interceptions for 171 yards and broken up five passes.

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