Fresno State senior running back Marteze Waller and the ground game will go up against Utah State’s stout defense, which has what head coach Tim DeRuyter calls the “best front seven in the conference.” (Darlene Wendels/The Collegian)
In the midst of a four-game losing streak, the Fresno State football team is looking for another chance to flip the script.
The Bulldogs’ next chance will come on Saturday when Utah State visits Bulldog Stadium during Homecoming.
The ‘Dogs return home after a conference road trip that included a 49-23 loss at San Jose State and a 21-7 loss at San Diego State.
“You gotta win at home,” Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter said. “We play typically better at home. We get a buzz off the Red Wave, and we’ll need them this week.”
Utah State is in Year 3 under head coach Matt Wells, who led the Aggies to a 9-5 record in 2013 and a 10-4 record last season.
The Aggies are 2-2 this season, winning both of their home games and losing two on the road to a pair of Pac-12 programs.
Utah State is second in the league in scoring defense, giving up 20.5 points per game and third in the Mountain West in total defense with opponents averaging 323.2 yards of offense.
“They do a lot of things defensively that are similar to what we do,” DeRuyter said. “They like to pressure a lot. I think they’ve got probably the best front seven in the conference that I’ve seen on defense. They’re really stout against the run, and they can put pressure on passers.”
The Aggies’ offense averages 19 points and 328 yards per game.
In last week’s win against Colorado State, the Aggies put up 33 points with 435 offensive yards.
“I’m proud of our guys for the win last Saturday night,” Wells said. “It’s not where we want to be, but a lot closer to putting all three phases together. Our defense played really well, especially against the run. When you gain three turnovers and don’t lose any, it gives you a chance to win.”
Fresno State leads the all-time series with Utah State 17-10-1, including six-straight. The last time the two faced off was in the 2013 Mountain West Conference Championship Game in which Derek Carr led the ‘Dogs to a 24-17 win.
“As I look at [Fresno State] on offense, [quarterback] Zack Greenlee does some really good stuff out on the perimeter. It’s a veteran, physical offensive line. They’ve got some talented wideouts on the edge,” Wells said. “On defense, there are several guys that played against us in the Mountain West championship game several years ago. [Defensive end Todd] Hunt and [linebacker] Kyrie Wilson both had really good games against us.”
Wells and DeRuyter have a relationship that goes back to their coaching days at Navy in the late 1990s.
“[DeRuyter] is a guy that I’ve coached with and have tremendous amount of respect for, as well as his staff,” Wells said. “They will be ready to play, and I know there will be rallying cries in Fresno, and we will get their very best shot. They’re coming off of two road games going into playing at home at Bulldog Stadium, where it’s a tough place to play.”