The Bulldogs take the business against Cal Poly in a dominant fashion
Fresno state did business on Saturday, rebounding from the almost heartbreaking upheaval in Oregon a week before it blew up Cal Poly 63-10.
Any concerns that the Bulldogs would face a hangover following the loss to one of the nation’s top teams last week were dismissed midway through the second quarter when quarterback Jake Haener and the offense turned on. reached their rhythm and never stopped.
Starting with a two-yard rushing touchdown by Haener on a read zone late in the first quarter, the Bulldogs went on to find the end zone in each of their next seven practices.
Obviously, Oregon’s level of competition at Cal Poly was drastically different, but the Bulldogs did what they were supposed to do in the convincing victory.
It was not a repeat of the 2019 Sacramento State game, the last time Fresno State faced a lower-level Football Championship Division (FCS) opponent. Two years ago, the Bulldogs had just suffered two very close losses to USC and Minnesota before regrouping to beat Sacramento State 34-20.
As the Bulldogs beat Sacramento State by two touchdowns, the game was tied at 20 midway through the fourth quarter before the ‘Dogs finally pulled out in a game that realistically shouldn’t have been. to be competitive.
Fresno State didn’t make the same mistake against the Mustangs, giving hope and confidence the ‘Dogs get their second chance against the Pac-12 next week at UCLA.
Much of that confidence will come from the back of Haener, who continued his strong start to the season with 380 passing yards and 4 touchdowns in the air.
Wide receiver Josh Kelly only had 3 receptions, but he led the team with 127 receiving yards and found the end zone twice. Receivers Zane Pope and Jalen Cropper followed for 95 and 70 yards, respectively, with one touchdown each.
The game of the game came on a double pass where Haener hit Cropper on a side pass – which looked like a screen. Cropper, who also played as a quarterback in high school, put his feet up and hit Kelly for a 51-yard touchdown.
âIt was pretty impressive, actually,â head coach Kalen DeBoer said after the game. “He went from reading to reading and came back to where he started with some pressure to his face.”
Just as the offense shone, the defense continued to show a better appearance compared to last year as Cal Poly only managed to gain 274 yards of total attack, including 53 rushing yards on 35 attempts.
âWhen you can do that with your defensive front, it’s going to set you up for a lot of good things,â DeBoer said. âIt’s just going to be something, this physical strength that we want to have, it’s just going to continue to carry us throughout the season. ”
Does the 2021 team have the constitution of a special team?
If there was anything to criticize about Fresno State’s performance, it would be the fact that the Bulldogs again got off to a somewhat slow start as they kicked off their first two possessions.
Haener admitted the problem has lasted for three games and cannot continue if the Bulldogs want to beat UCLA next week.
“Early next week I want to challenge the guys, and I’m going to talk to all the guys on offense – we have to start faster and we have to put the ball in the end zone on first or second possession,” Haener said. . âBecause you start giving the other team a bit more of the ball, you just give them more chances. I would like to see us start faster and go from there.
Haener showed leadership and didn’t blame any of his teammates, instead saying it was his job to improve first and foremost.
âIt starts with me,â Haener said. âI have to be better at the start of the game. Just get the ball out of my hand, hand it over to the guys who are good with the ball in their hands, and start the attack. It starts with me and being able to move the unit up and down the field, so I have to do a better job and take ownership and do a better job to be in the game.
It’s the kind of leadership and attitude that makes DeBoer think this 2021 squad could move forward.
DeBoer listened as Haener was responsible for the slow starts. When the head coach stepped onto the podium, he congratulated his quarterback for setting the standard.
âI think that says a lot about the kind of leadership we have on this team, because it’s not just him,â DeBoer said. âThere are other guys as well. All the guys who didn’t play as well as they could have made mistakes, they admit it. When you have a culture where ownership is there and it’s player-driven, that’s when you can have a special team, and I think that’s what we’re about to do. to do.
Much of it has to do with mental toughness, said DeBoer, who was certainly challenged last week as the Bulldogs left a lead over Oregon.
âWe don’t have a glassy look in our eyes when things aren’t going well. We just got back to work, and I know that’s what our guys are going to do again this week, âDeBoer said. âThey are motivated because we know what we are capable of doing, what we are capable of becoming. The word “potential” is a scary word. The words ‘maybe’ are scary, but I know this team is going to get the job done and we’ll be pretty good because of the character we have.
Photo: Fresno State Athletics