Feb 19, 2020

Fresno State Football: Keys to the Game

Nevada at Fresno State
Saturday, Nov. 2 – 7:30 p.m.

Silence the pistol

The Wolf Pack kept the pistol offense under coach Brian Polian after former coach Chris Ault retired last season.

Under Polian, it seems like a different kind of pistol.

Nevada is running the ball less and passing it more on offense. Part of that is due to quarterback Cody Fajardo and injuries that have hampered his running ability. The other part is due to the Wolf Pack’s stable at running back – there is a drop off from last year’s talent, which featured record-setting running back Stefphon Jefferson.

This season, junior Kendall Brock has taken control of the starting spot in the backfield for the Wolf Pack. Brock was part of a 2010 Clovis West High football team that captured the CIF Central Section Division I title en route to a 12-1 finish.

Brock and Fresno State outside linebacker Donavan Lewis were teammates in high school. Brock leads the Wolf Pack’s stable, with a rushing total of 539 yards on 132 carries, averaging 4.1 yards per carry.

An offense that predicates itself on running the ball to open up the play-action game seems to be without the talent it needs to stay balanced and unpredictable. This is similar to previous versions of Nevada’s pistol when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was taking the snaps.

Keep the Carr rolling

San Diego State gave Fresno State resistance on defense, using unconventional blitzes (at some points in the game, the Aztecs’ employed a defensive front with no down linemen), and it showed at halftime in the form of a 7-7 tie.

Fresno State has gotten the ball rolling routinely, scoring on its first opening drive in every game except last week’s.

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr is averaging 369 passing yards per game, has thrown 25 touchdown passes and four interceptions. A monster game would give Carr the school’s all-time record for career passing yardage.

Kevin Sweeney owns the school’s passing record of 10,808 yards that has stood since 1986. Carr, who owns 16 school records, needs 475 passing yards to surpass Sweeney.

Finish strong

Is this going to be another close one? Fresno State is favored to win by 20.5 points.

The Wolf Pack gave San Diego State all it had in a 51-44 overtime loss in San Diego, but its hard to gauge the Wolf Pack’s actual success this year due to skewed levels of competition.

Nevada suffered blowout losses to UCLA and Florida State (both 20th and 3rd in the BCS Standings, respectively), and its three wins this season have come against subpar competition – winless Hawaii, 3-6 UC Davis and 1-7 Air Force.

Fresno State – its performance against San Diego State aside – has gotten off to quick starts on offense.

It should not have problems moving the ball against the Wolf Pack, who allow a league-worst 496 yards per game on offense.

A routine fast start might force Nevada to abandon its run game to try and make Saturday’s “Blackout” game a shootout – a game Fresno State has proven to be good at.

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