|Rutgers (0-0, 0-0 AAC) at Fresno State (0-0, 0-0 MW)|
||Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013
||7:30 p.m. PT
||Fresno, Calif. - Bulldog Stadium (41,031)
||ESPNU | Play-by-Play: Dave Flemming; Analyst:: Mike Bellotti; Sideline: Lewis Johnson
Comcast Ch. 420; DirectTV Ch. 208; Dish Network Ch. 141; AT&T U-Verse Ch. 605 (1605 HD)
||ESPN Radio (940 AM) | Gameday Live (4:30 p.m.), Pregame Show (6:30 p.m.)
Play-by-Play:Paul Loeffler; Analyst: Cameron Worrell; Sideline: Ralph Wood
ESPN Deportes (1600 AM) in Spanish | Play-by-Play: Erwin Higueros; Analyst: Jesse Beltran; Sideline: OcTavio Duarte
||Fresno State Game Notes | Rutgers Game Notes | Mountain West Notes
||Fresno State | Rutgers | MW
Fresno State is set to open its 92nd season of football and second under head coach Tim DeRuyter on Thursday, Aug. 29 when it hosts Rutgers in a game between the reigning co-champions from the Mountain West and American Athletic Conference ... kickoff for the 2013 season opener is set for 7:30 p.m. from Bulldog Stadium and the game is being televised nationally on ESPNU with the broadcast team of Dave Flemming (play-by-play), Mike Bellotti (analyst) and Lewis Johnson (sideline) ... fans can also listen to the game on the official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs, 940 AM ESPN radio, with `Voice of the Bulldogs' Paul Loeffler, former Bulldog and NFL player Cameron Worrell as the analyst and sideline reporter Ralph Wood ... Fresno State will be debuting its new white helmets for the season opener that has been deemed a whiteout. The new white helmets are a part of the new uniform combinations the Bulldogs will roll-out in 2013 ... coming off a 9-4 season and a co-championship, their first conference title in 13 years, the Bulldogs were voted as the preseason favorite to win the West Division in the 2013 MW Preseason Poll ... Fresno State went 6-0 at home in 2012, outscoring opponents by 190 points at Bulldog Stadium while averaging 550.5 yards of total offense at home. ... quarterback Derek Carr returns for his senior season and is coming off the 2012 campaign when he threw for a MW record 4,104 passing yards with 37 touchdowns against seven interceptions ... defensively, the Bulldogs are in year two under coordinator Nick Toth's 3-4 and look to build off year one in the system when they ranked second nationally in passing defense and fifth in turnovers forced with 35.
Fresno State sports the Mountain West's preseason offensive and defensive players of the year in quarterback Derek Carr and safety Derron Smith.
Last season, Rutgers tied for eighth nationally with just 11 sacks allowed. The Bulldog defense ranked ninth in the FBS in 2012 with 40 sacks.
Ready for Year Two
Tim DeRuyter enters his second season as head coach of the Bulldogs. In his first year, all DeRuyter did was lead Fresno State to its first conference championship in 13 years. The Bulldogs went 9-4 overall and 7-1 in league play during their first season as members of the Mountain West and shared the league title with Boise State and San Diego State. DeRuyter set a new school record for wins by a first-year coach and also became just the second Bulldog coach to lead a team to a bowl in his first season at the school.
Fresno State vs. Rutgers - The Series
Thursday's game is just the second-ever meeting between the Bulldogs of Fresno State and Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. The only other game played between the schools came back in the 2008 season opener on Sept. 1 in Piscataway, N.J. Fresno State, which opened up that season ranked No. 25, went all the way across the country to pull off the 24-7 victory. That game at Rutgers is the furthest east the Bulldogs have ever played a game. Ryan Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick of the San Diego Chargers in 2010, ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns to lead Fresno State.
Rutgers enters its second season under head coach Kyle Flood. In his first year, Flood led the Scarlet Knights to a 9-4 overall record while claiming a share of the Big East Conference championship and earning a berth in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Flood looks to replace the production of 13 players who were either drafted or signed by NFL clubs last year, but is armed with depth on the offensive line, a big-play wide receiver in Brandon Coleman (10 touchdown receptions in 2012) and veteran quarterback Gary Nova who threw for 2,695 yards and 22 touchdowns last year. The Scarlet Knights were voted third in the preseason poll in their conference, which is now named the American Athletic Conference.
Fresno State in Season Openers
Fresno State is 53-34-4 (.582) all-time in 91 season openers dating back to 1921. The Bulldogs have won eight out of their last nine season openers and are 22-11 in season openers since 1980. Of those past 33 season openers since 1980, 18 of them have been home games and the Bulldogs won 16 times in those 18 games.
On the Outside Looking In
Fresno State is receiving votes in both major national top 25 polls - one by the Associated Press and the other is the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Bulldogs received 36 votes in the AP poll, which would put them at No. 32, and 62 votes in the coaches poll, which would put them at No. 31. Looking at all non-BCS teams, Fresno State is the second-highest ranked program in the nation, trailing Boise State who came in at No. 19 in both polls. The Bulldogs and Broncos meet on Sept. 20 in Fresno in a game televised nationally on ESPN. The last time the 'Dogs were ranked in an official top 25 poll was in 2008. In some of the other non-official preseason polls, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 25 by USA Today, No. 22 by Athlon Sports and No. 25 by Phil Steele.
West Division Favorites
Fresno State was selected as the favorite to win the West Division in the 2013 Mountain West Preseason Poll that was voted upon by members of the media. Fresno State, which finished its first season of Mountain West play as tri-champions with a 7-1 mark (9-4 overall) in 2012, received 39 of the 41 first-place votes in the West Division.
Preseason Mountain West Honors
In addition to the Mountain West Preseason Poll, the league also announced the 2013 MW Football Preseason All-Conference Team. Fresno State had a league-high seven players named to the team - the most of any school in the conference. Quarterback Derek Carr was named the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season and Derron Smith was named the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Joining Carr on the preseason all-conference team for offense was wide receiver Davante Adams, tight end Marcel Jensen and left tackle Austin Wentworth. Defensively, Smith was joined on the team by defensive lineman Tyeler Davison and cornerback L.J. Jones.
Quarterback Derek Carr is set to enter his final season as a Bulldog, which will be his third year starting under center. After a big junior season when he threw for a MW record 4,104 yards, he was named the league's offensive player of the year and a honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated. Now, Carr is poised to become the best Bulldog of all-time. Here is a look at Carr entering the season:
Was voted the MW Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and is on the watch list for every national award that a QB can be on (full list on Pg. 4).
Owns a career TD-to-INT ratio of 63-16. That is the third-highest ratio of any FBS quarterback returning in 2013. It trails only Alabama's A.J. McCarron (49-to-8) and TCU's Casey Paschall (36-to-8).
Carr's 37 TD passes in 2012 are tied for the most of any returning QB in 2013.
Had a fourth quarter completion percentage of .676 (68-of-97) in 2012. For his career, he has completed 67.6 percent of his passes in the fourth quarter with just three fourth-quarter interceptions in 219 pass attempts.
Holds the Fresno State school record with a career completion percentage of .652.
Needs 3,049 passing yards to break the school's career passing record that Kevin Sweeney has held since 1986. He also needs just 90 yards passing to surpass his brother, David, and move into fourth place on the all-time passing list at Fresno State. David was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2002 NFL Draft.
Needs 29 pass attempts to become the fourth Bulldog with 1,000 or more passes in a career.
Weapons At His Disposal
Carr's numbers are supported by a receiving crew that can stack up against any other in the nation. Among all the passes caught by a wide receiver or tight end in 2012, 77 percent of that production returns this year. Fresno State threw for 325.62 yards per game last season, which ranked 12th nationally. Returning wide outs include starters Davante Adams (102 catches, 14 TDs) and Isaiah Burse (57 receptions, 6 TDs) along with 6-6 tight end Marcel Jensen (20 receptions, 4 TDs). The 'Dogs also get WR Josh Harper back, who missed eight games last season (the last seven with a sports hernia). In 16 career games, Harper has nine touchdown catches and during fall camp he has looked very impressive.
Next In Line
Last season strong safety Phillip Thomas became the first player in school history to be named a unanimous All-American. Now Thomas, who was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, has gone on to the NFL. The next star in line, at least in the secondary, is free safety Derron Smith. Smith enters his junior season as the MW Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. In 2012, he was a first-team All-MW selection and tied for fifth nationally with six interceptions. Between Smith's six picks and Thomas' nation-leading eight, the Bulldog safety's produced 14 interceptions. That was the same number or more than 85 of the 120 FBS teams in the country had last season.
Smith has proven to be a key cog in Fresno State's ability to force turnovers. Last year with a healthy Smith starting all 13 games, the Bulldogs ranked fifth nationally with 35 turnovers. In 2011, a year in which he was granted a medical redshirt after breaking his arm in the third game of the season, Fresno State tied for dead last nationally with only nine turnovers gained. Breaking it down, in Smith's 16 starts over the last two seasons, Fresno State has 39 take-aways. In the 10 games he missed due to injury in 2011, the 'Dogs only produced five take-aways. For his career, Smith has forced two fumbles and intercepted seven passes. He is tied for 11th nationally for the most interceptions among active players.
Fresno State ranked dead last in the nation with only nine turnovers gained in 2011, but in 2012 the Bulldogs were fifth in the FBS with 35 take-aways. The +26 differential from 2011 to 2012 in the turnover department is the largest turnaround registered by any FBS team since the turn of the century. Fresno State tied for 27th nationally in 2012 with 13 fumble recoveries and was third in the FBS with 22 interceptions. Fresno State had eight defensive touchdowns (six on INT returns, two on fumble recoveries) in 2012, which was the second-most of any FBS team.
Keeping the Streak Alive
Fresno State looks to keep its streak alive of consecutive games with an interception. The Bulldogs picked off a pass in each of the final 11 games last year. That is the longest active streak in the nation.
Head coach Tim DeRuyter came to Fresno State with 16 years of experience as a defensive coordinator and helped the Bulldogs drastically improve on that side of the ball. DeRuyter hired Nick Toth, who was the linebackers coach for him when he was the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M, to be the new DC and under his guidance the Bulldogs posted one of their best defensive seasons in recent history.
Fresno State returns 15 starters and 36 letter winners to its 2013 roster. Among the 15 starters, 10 of those players earned All-Mountain West accolades highlighted by five first-team returnees (Davante Adams, Derek Carr, Tyeler Davison, Derron Smith and Austin Wentworth). Of the 15 national awards sponsored by the National College Football Awards Association that have preseason watch lists, Fresno State has a player on the watch list for nine of those 15 awards (see full list on Pg. 4 chart).
Adams Looks to Build Off Monster 2012 Campaign
Davante Adams burst onto the national scene as a redshirt freshman last year when he caught 102 passes for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns. He ranked third nationally in TD catches, ranked eighth in total receptions and was ninth in receiving yardage. In the process, he set new school and Mountain West record for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions by a freshman. Adams was named the 2012 Mountain West Freshman of the Year and a honorable mention All-American by Sports Illustrated. Entering this season, he has already collected second-team preseason All-America honors by CBSSports.com, fourth-team preseason All-America accolades from Phil Steele and was named to the Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.
He and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee are tied for the most TD receptions in 2012 by a returning FBS wide receiver. Though he might be tied there, Adams does have the nation's longest active streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass. He caught at least one TD in eight-straight games to close out the 2012 season, which set a new Mountain West record and tied the Fresno State record for consecutive games with a TD reception. Adams' streak of eight-straight games with a TD is two more than any other player in the nation. Louisville's DeVante Parker enters 2013 with six-straight games with a touchdown catch.
For years Fresno State had run a pro-style offense, but when Tim DeRuyter hired Dave Schramm as the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator in 2012 the team's offense changed to a spread. Fresno State led the Mountain West and ranked 12th nationally in passing (325.6 ypg) and was 17th in scoring (37.9 ppg) last year. The Bulldogs also ranked 16th nationally in total offense at 477.5 yards per game. With a year under their belts, the Bulldogs look for even greater production than they got last season when the team had four games with over 600 yards of offense. The team scored 40 or more points in seven games, one off of tying the school record of eight for 40 point games that was set in 1992.
No Place Like Bulldog Stadium
Fresno State enters its 33rd full season with Bulldog Stadium as its home venue. The 'Dogs have an all-time winning percentage of .776 in their 41,031-seat stadium, including a 56-19 mark at home since 2000. Last season, Fresno State went 6-0 at home and defeated opponents by an average of 31.6 points per game. The Bulldogs averaged 48.8 points per game in their six home games in 2012 along with 550.5 yards of total offense.
Isaiah Burse Closing in NCAA Record
Senior wide receiver Isaiah Burse needs just 15 more kickoff returns to tie the NCAA career record of 141 held by Tyron Carrier from Houston (2008-11). Through his first three seasons, Burse has returned 126 kickoffs for 2,835 yards and is looking for his first touchdown. He currently ranks third in school history with 4,504 all-purpose yards and needs 1,322 more to break that school record. Burse has eclipsed over 1,500 all-purpose yards in each of the last two seasons. Additionally, Burse has 110 career catches for 1,477 yards and nine touchdowns. He needs 15 more catches to move into the top 10 for most receptions in school history. Burse was an honorable mention All-Mountain West selection in 2012 when he ranked third in the league with six touchdown catches.
Fresno State Anchors
Seniors Austin Wentworth and L.J. Jones are the most experienced players on the team in terms of playing experience. Wentworth has made a team-high 30 starts in his career, including 28 consecutive. He is one of 60 players in the FBS that has made 30 or more career starts entering 2013 and one of eight from the Mountain West. Jones has started in 28 consecutive games for the Bulldogs entering this season. Close behind those two is quarterback Derek Carr, with 26 career starts.
Fresno State's helmets this season will feature a JS sticker on them, which is a tribute to former Bulldog coach Jim Sweeney. Sweeney passed away on Feb. 8, 2013 at the age of 83. He is Fresno State's all-time winningest coach, having gone 143-75-3 (.654) in 19 seasons coaching the Bulldogs. Fresno State's field is named after him. There will also be a tribute to coach Sweeney during the game against Rutgers.
The Fresno State and Rutgers campuses are approximately 2,900 miles apart and it would take over 43 hours of driving time to get from one to the other.
Fresno State has played in 12 bowl games over the last 14 seasons. That stretch of bowl appearances is the second best in the Mountain West, only trailing Boise State who has appeared in 13 bowls in the last 14 seasons. Following Fresno State in bowl appearances over the last 14 seasons is: Air Force (8), Hawai'i (8), Nevada (8), Colorado State (7), New Mexico (5), San Diego State (3), Wyoming (3), San Jose State (2), Utah State (2) and UNLV (1).
After going 4-9 in 2011, the Bulldogs flipped that record around and finished 2012 9-4. That five-game improvement was the sixth-best turnaround registered in the FBS in 2012.
Fresno State has an honorary captain program in place under Tim DeRuyter where the program welcomes back former Bulldogs to serve as honorary team captains. The honorary captains for the 2013 season opener are Kevin Jordan, an offensive tackle for the Bulldogs from 1996-00, and Rodney Wright, a wide receiver at Fresno State from 1998-01. Jordan was a second-team All-WAC selection for the Bulldogs in 2000 and is now the executive director for KYJO Enterprises, a non-profit organization in Fresno dedicated to making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth. Wright was a two-time All-WAC selection and is Fresno State's all-time leading receiver with 222 career receptions. He was taken by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
Beginning with the season opener, which is a whiteout in Bulldog Stadium, Fresno State will have some different uniform combinations this season. Traditionally, the Bulldogs have had just the red and white uniforms. To compliment the white uni's, Fresno State got a new all-white helmet that will be worn with the white jersey's against Rutgers for the whtieout (Fresno State normally wears all red at home). The Bulldogs also have black uniforms and a black helmet for the first time in school history, which the 'Dogs will wear on Nov. 2 against Nevada. On homecoming, Oct. 19 vs. UNLV, Fresno State will wear its retro red helmets that feature the Bulldog script. The last time Fresno State's helmets featured the Bulldog script on them was in 1996.