'Dogs Host La Tech Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Fresno State and Louisiana Tech meet in pivotal conference game at Bulldog Stadium
Oct. 31, 2011
Game No. 9 - WAC Game No. 4
Fresno State Game Notes | Louisiana Tech Game Notes
Louisiana Tech (4-4, 3-1 WAC) at Fresno State (3-5, 2-1 WAC)
Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 Bulldog Stadium (41,031) Fresno, Calif. 7:30 p.m. PT
Game Day Quick Facts
ESPNU | Play-by-Play: Adam Amin; Analyst: David Diaz-Infante
KMJ (AM 580); Bulldog Live (5:30 p.m.), Countdown to Kickoff (7 p.m.) | Play-by-Play: Paul Loeffler; Analyst: Jordan Christensen; Sideline: Ralph Wood
ESPN Deportes (1600 AM) in Spanish | Play-by-Play: Erwin Higueros; Analyst: Jesse Beltran; Sideline: Jose Salas
INTERNET AUDIO & LIVE STATS: gobulldogs.com
It's the Bulldogs vs. the Bulldogs this weekend at Bulldog Stadium, as Fresno State hosts Louisiana Tech on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in a pivotal conference game ... ESPNU is televising the game with the call of Adam Amin and David Diaz-Infante while the Bulldog Sports Network is broadcasting the game on KMJ 580-AM with Paul Loeffler (play-by-play), Jordan Christensen (analyst) and Ralph Wood (sideline) bringing you the action ... The last three games in the series between Fresno State and La Tech have been decided by a total of 11 points and the `Dogs have won four out of the last five. Fresno State is 6-1 all-time against Louisiana Tech at home ... Robbie Rouse is 16 yards away from registering the 19th 1,000-yard rushing season in Bulldog history. He would become just the fifth Fresno State tailback in school history to have a pair of 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a career ... Fresno State must win four out of its last five games to become bowl eligible and history shows that the `Dogs are more than capable of that. The Bulldogs have won four out of their last five regular season games eight times in the last 14 years, including two seasons where they won their last five ... Fresno State has given up just one sack in its last three games and just six in its last seven. This week the `Dog are going up against the La Tech defense that is tied for second in the WAC in sacks, but is second to last in the league in passing defense, giving up 279.1 yards per game.
The Bulldogs have won four out of the last five over Louisiana Tech and own a 9-3 overall record in the series that started in 1986.
Louisiana Tech is currently in a tie for second play in the WAC with a 3-1 conference record and it has won three-straight games. Fresno State is right behind La Tech with a 2-1 league record, as both teams are still in the hunt for the WAC title.
Robbie Rouse is having one of the most productive seasons in the FBS this year and in Fresno State history. He is 16 yards away from becoming just the fourth Bulldog tailback to have back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and the fifth running back with two 1,000-yard seasons in a career. After rushing for 1,129 yards last year, Rouse ranks No. 9 in the nation this season with 984 rushing yards in eight games. Only six players in the FBS have beat him to 1,000 yards rushing this year. Rouse has rushed 192 times for 984 yards and seven touchdowns this season. His 123.0 yards per game ranks No. 8 in the FBS, his 192 carries are the fifth-most in the nation and he has rushed for over 100 yards in six of eight games this year. Rouse enters the game with 2,592 rushing yards in his career. He only needs 92 yards to surpass Dwayne Wright (2003-04, `06) for fourth place on the school's all-time rushing record list and he needs just 882 yards to break Ron Rivers' program record for most rushing yards in a career. Remember, Rouse is just a junior and has one more season of eligibility remaining.
The good news for Rouse is he is going up against the La Tech defense that he has scorched over his career. In two career games against Louisiana Tech, Rouse has run for 361 yards on 64 carries with one touchdown. Last year, Rouse went for 286 yards on the Bulldogs. He did so on a school record 43 carries and his 286 yards were just nine off the Fresno State single-game rushing record.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Louisiana Tech enters Saturday's game with a 4-4 overall record and 3-1 mark in the WAC. The Bulldogs have won three-straight, including a pair of road victories at Idaho and Utah State. Last weekend, La Tech took down San Jose State at home, 38-28. The Bulldogs score 29 points per game and give up 28, which is the second fewest in the WAC. They also rank No. 3 in the conference in total defense, allowing only 380.2 yards per game. The Bulldog secondary is allowing 279.1 yards per game and 15 touchdowns through the air, but La Tech's 13 interceptions lead the conference. Last week against San Jose State, its secondary picked off four passes, one of which was returned 36 yards for a touchdown by Jay Dudley. The Bulldogs lead the conference with a plus-four turnover margin and they sport the league's best third-down defense, only allowing opponents to convert 29.8 percent of their third downs.
Fresno State vs. La Tech - The Series
Fresno State and Louisiana Tech have played one another every year since 2001 when La Tech joined the WAC and this will be the 13th meeting overall between the two schools. The Fresno State Bulldogs lead the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 9-3 in the series and Fresno State has won six of the seven games played here in Fresno. The recent series has been a tight one between the two schools, as four of the last five games have been decided by one score or less, including the last three games that combined were decided by a total of 11 points. Fresno State has come out on top in four out of the last five tightly contested games. The Fresno State Bulldogs won last year's game in Ruston, 40-34, behind a career-high 286 rushing yards from Robbie Rouse. Fresno State overcame a 14-0 first-quarter deficit in a game that featured three different lead changes. The `Dogs held a 33-28 lead late in the fourth quarter before Rouse put the game away with a 51-yard touchdown run with 2:20 left to play.
Fresno State needs to win four of its final five games to become bowl eligible. Head coach Pat Hill has led the Bulldogs to bowl games in 11 of his 14 seasons and has had the `Dogs in a bowl in 11 out of the last 12 seasons. Hill's teams have always finished strong, as they have won four of the last five games to close out the regular season eight times, including the 2001 and 2004 seasons when Fresno State won its last five games before going "bowling."
A Much Needed Week of Rest
Fresno State is coming off a bye week, which was greatly needed. The Bulldogs went eight-straight weeks before having their one and only bye week of the season, as Fresno State plays 13 games this year. An extremely tough non-conference schedule that saw the `Dogs play the likes of California, No. 10 Nebraska, Ole Miss and No. 5 Boise State had Fresno State a little banged up. However, the Bulldogs are now as healthy has they have been since the season opener and took most of the bye week to rest up. Fresno State practiced on Monday and Tuesday and only conditioned on Wednesday. The team was off on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before returning to practice on Sunday to continue its preparation for Louisiana Tech.
O-Line at Full Strength
For the first time since the first drive of the season opening game against Cal, Fresno State had its entire offensive line together for the Nevada game two weeks ago. Starting center Richard Helepiko went down with an ankle injury on the third play of the Cal game and missed the next four games. In the first quarter against Nebraska on Sept. 10, left guard Matt Hunt went down with an ankle injury and missed the next four games. Leslie Cooper, who has played guard and went over to center when Helepiko was injured, missed the Boise State and Utah State games with an ankle injury. Despite all of the injuries, the line has done a magnificent job opening up holes for running back Robbie Rouse and protecting quarterback Derek Carr. With the entire line back together against Nevada, the Bulldog offense went for a season-high 522 yards, showing what it can do at full strength. The unit has allowed just one sack in the last three games and it ranks third in the WAC, having allowed just 12 total sacks. Since week two of the season, Fresno State has allowed just six total sacks and there have been four games this year when it did not allow a single sack in a game. The unit is led by senior Bryce Harris, who has started in 33-straight games at left tackle.
Zak Hill and Terrance Dennis Leading the Bulldog Secondary
Safeties Zak Hill and Terrance Dennis both set career-highs with 14 and 12 tackles, respectively, in Fresno State's last game at Nevada on Oct. 22. Hill's 14 stops are the most tackles by a Bulldog since Ben Jacobs had 15 tackles at Wisconsin in 2009. Of his 14 tackles, eight of them were solo. Hill doubled his previous career-high in tackles of seven that he recorded the week before the Nevada game against Utah State. Dennis is tied for the team lead with linebacker Travis Brown with 54 tackles, despite playing in just 7-of-8 games this season. It was his second double-digit tackle game this season, as he had 10 tackles at Idaho on Sept. 24. The two safeties have stepped in nicely for Fresno State's two starters that are out for the season with injuries. Phillip Thomas was lost for the season with a broken leg in a non-contact drill three days before the season-opener against Cal and Derron Smith went out for the year with a broken arm in the fourth quarter of the North Dakota game.
Saunders Grabs Sixth TD of Season
Sophomore wide receiver Jalen Saunders grabbed his sixth touchdown reception of the season at Nevada on Oct. 22. He needs just one more TD in the last five games to tie for the most touchdown catches in a season by a Bulldog in the last 10 years. The last Bulldogs with 10 or more touchdown receptions in a season was Rodney Wright (11) and Bernard Berrian (13) in 2001. Saunders has 26 receptions for 600 yards this year. He has six receptions that have gone for over 45 yards, including an 86-yard touchdown catch against North Dakota. He is averaging 23.1 yards per catch, which is the second-highest average in the nation for any receiver with at least 20 receptions.
Carr Having Efficient First Season
Sophomore quarterback Derek Carr has led an efficient offensive attack for the Bulldogs in his first season as the starting quarterback. Carr is throwing for 247.5 yards per game, completes 59.4 percent of his passes and has 15 touchdown passes against just five interceptions. He has thrown 84 consecutive passes without an interception, his last one coming in the third quarter in a loss to No. 5 Boise State on Oct. 7.
Harrell On Verge of Cracking the Top 10
Senior defensive tackle Logan Harrell needs just a half sack to tie Greg Ramsey (1983-86) for the 10th most sacks in school history. Harrell leads the team with five sacks this year and 11.5 tackles for a loss. He is fourth in the WAC in sacks and second in tackles for a loss.
Okpalaugo Continues his Tear
Junior defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo, a former walk-on, has three sacks in his last two games and has recorded 5.5 tackles for a loss in his last three games. He had a sack and two tackles for a loss at Nevada on Oct. 22. In an Oct. 15 win over Utah State, he had 2.5 tackles for a loss and two key second half sacks, one of which he forced a fumble that led to a Fresno State touchdown to put the `Dogs up by 10 late in the fourth quarter. Okpalaugo, who has started 6-of-8 games this season, is second on the team with 8.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks.
Bulldog Offense Stacking Up the Yards
Fresno State has gone for over 400 yards of total offense in 5-of-8 games this season and it has a pair of 500-yard games. Its 522 yards at Nevada on Oct. 22 was a season-high for the team. Fresno State is averaging 391.6 yards per game this season and 28.6 points. The `Dogs average 144.1 yards on the ground and 247.5 through the air with their extremely balanced attack, as 49.3 percent of their plays this year have been rushes and 50.7 percent have been passes.
Knox Surpasses 200 Career Tackles
Senior outside linebacker Kyle Knox recorded the 200th tackle of his career in the Nevada game two weeks ago. He had eight tackles in the game and now stands with 201 career tackles to go along with 25.0 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, two pass breakups and one forced fumble. Knox is fourth on the team with 41 tackles this season and he has five stops behind the line of scrimmage with one sack. He is the most experienced player on the team, as he has played in 43 games and made 35 career starts.
Wylie Nets Second Career 100-Yard Receiving Game
Fifth-year senior wide receiver Devon Wylie caught five passes for 108 yards in the Nevada game two weeks ago. It was the second 100-yard receiving game of his career, the first coming in 2009 at Wisconsin when he had 114 yards on five catches with one 70 yard touchdown reception. Against Nevada, he caught a career-long 71-yard pass on the second play of the second half. It was his second reception this season of 50 or more yards. Wylie has also been very productive for the Bulldogs in the punt return game, where he is averaging 16.3 yards on 26 punt returns with two touchdowns. He ranks No. 5 in the nation in punt return average and his 423 total punt return yards are 85 more than any other player in the nation has. Alabama's Marquis Maze is second in the FBS with 338 yards on 26 returns with one touchdown.
Special Teams Leaders
Linebacker Patrick Su'a and running back Milton Knox are leading the Bulldog kickoff and punt coverage units. Su'a has a team-high 10 tackles on special teams, with nine of his 10 stops coming on kickoffs. There he has had a knack for the big hit and has been delivering about one big blow a game to the opposing kickoff return man. Knox has excelled on both the kickoff and punt coverage units. He only has four special teams tackles, but he also gets downfield to help down punts inside the opposing 20-yard line, which punter Andrew Shapiro has done 16 times this year. Knox is also a blocker on the kickoff return unit and is on the punt return squad, where he is responsible for Fresno State's only blocked punt this year (recorded at Idaho on Sept. 24).
In the first seven games of the season, Fresno State had nine scoring drives of 10 or more plays. In the Nevada game two weeks ago, the Bulldogs had three scoring drives of 10 or more plays. Two of those were a 15-play drive that ate up 6:01 on the clock and a 14-play drive that consumed 6:55. The 15-play drive that Jalen Saunders capped off with a eight-yard touchdown reception is the longest drive in terms of plays this year and the drive that lasted 6:55 is the longest in terms of time on the clock.
Fresno State has 12 scoring drives this season using 10-plus plays and the Bulldog have had seven scoring drives of five minutes or longer.
Robbie Rouse's 65-yard touchdown run at Nevada in Fresno State's last game was a career-long run for the junior. He had a season-high 172 yards rushing on 25 carries with two touchdowns in the game, which was his 10th career 100-yard rushing game.
Fresno State is second in the WAC in red zone offense, scoring on 20 of its 24 opportunities inside the opponents 20-yard line. The Bulldogs have 17 touchdowns and three field goals.
Senior kicker Kevin Goessling made his 58th career field goal on Oct. 22 at Nevada. He needs to make one more to tie Hawai'i's Justin Ayah for the third-most field goals made in WAC history. Goessling is also now 20 points from breaking the school scoring record that is held by Derek Mahoney (1990-93). Mahoney had 364 points in his career and Goessling has 345 going into the Louisiana Tech game.
Goessling has made 29-straight PAT attempts and is 171-of-174 in his career.
Fresno State has created just one turnover in its last four games and the Bulldogs have not intercepted a pass since the second game of the season, when the `Dogs picked off a pair of passes at No. 10 Nebraska.
Junior wide receiver Rashad Evans continues to lead the team with 32 receptions this year. He caught his third touchdown pass of the season at Nevada on Oct. 22 and is averaging 34.5 yards per game.
Jalen Saunders has picked up a first down on 20 of his 26 receptions this season.
Devon Wylie's six-game streak with a punt return of 30 or more yards came to an end at Nevada on Oct. 22.
The Nation's Premiere Team in Blocking Kicks
Marcel Jensen's blocked field goal at Nevada on Oct. 22 was the 100th blocked kick for Fresno State in the last 15 years. Jensen has blocked three kicks this year, as has Cody Wichmann. Tristan Okpalaugo has also blocked a PAT and Milton Knox has blocked one punt this year. The Bulldogs have blocked eight total kicks (PAT/FG/Punts) this season and its 66 blocked kicks since 2002 is by far the most in the nation.