After Saturday’s 45-0 scalding of UConn, are the Bulldogs really that good, or is UConn really that bad?
Perhaps a little of both. Fresno State’s passing game lit up the Huskies’ defense. And, you might as well call them UCnn, because there was no “o” in their game.
The next assignment is at 1th-ranked Oregon, a perennial Pac-12 powerhouse (Saturday, 11 a.m. Pac-12 Network).
“That’s what you play for. You want to be tested and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Fresno State head coach Kalen DeBoer said.
A One-Week Head Start
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal called Fresno State an “impressive football team.” The two-time reigning Pac-12 champion will be opening its season.
“The ability to get a game under their belts, which is always different no matter how much you try to simulate it,” Cristobal told Duck Territory. “At the same time, when you don’t have a game you can sit and watch. The way we’ve done camp, I feel like our bodies are ready to go. I don’t foresee any issues there. Honestly, I’d rather play, play as much as possible and play as many guys as possible. I think there’s always an advantage with that. But, you don’t lean on that. You take advantage of the time we have.”
DeBoer said it was a benefit to have a one-week head start.
“We got our feet underneath us. Now we know what it feels like. That game speed, it’s going to be ramped up another level just because we’re facing a top tier team in the country,” DeBoer said.
A Familiar Face on Oregon Staff
Oregon’s first-year defensive coordinator is a familiar name — Tim DeRuyter, the Fresno State head coach from 2012-2016.
“He’s a great guy,” DeBoer said. “He is someone I sought out. I sent him some pictures of what’s on the wall, told him thank-you for everything he’s done for this program. You know, you don’t win two championships by accident.”
Fresno State offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb says they’ve watched films of prior DeRuyter teams, including his teams at Fresno State.
A 45-0 Blowout of UConn
With the first-ever before-noon kickoff at Bulldog Stadium, both teams’ offenses slept in. Fortunately, thanks to a beautiful sack-strip-scoop-score by DE Arron Mosby, the Bulldogs were already on the board.
Just as the clock struck noon, QB Jake Haener found WR Ty Jones for a 9-yard TD. Like Haener, Jones is also a transfer from the Univ. of Washington.
And, from there, it was no looking back. RB Ronnie Rivers set the school’s all-time touchdown record with a 61-yard reception — River’s 45th running and receiving in his college career. Haener followed with an 86-yard pass and score by Jalen Cropper.
“It was just an overwhelming feeling, great accomplishment, and none of this could be done without my teammates. So all the props and all the glory goes to them,” Rivers said after the game.
“We started a little slow, but it wasn’t anything where I saw anything in any guy’s eyes like what’s going on? It’s just a matter of, hey, someone just is going to make a play. And once we make that one big play, we’ll be off and running,” DeBoer said.
Haener finished his day with 331 yards passing and 3 TDs, but left earlier than the Red Wave or DeBoer hoped for. He was taken off the field and spent significant time in the medical tent.
It was later revealed that Haener suffered from heat-related issues and not a knee problem as initially feared. Haener was one of many players on both teams who went down in the heat.
Some reports put the on-field temperature at 120 degrees.
Hot weather should not be a problem on Saturday. The projected kickoff temperature at Autzen Stadium in Eugene is around 70 degrees.