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Call Him ‘Jake The Snake’ or ‘The Natural,’ DeBoer Says Haener Plays Friday

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Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener, left, stiff-arms UCLA linebacker Bo Calvert (33) on Saturday. (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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Kalen DeBoer isn’t surprised that quarterback Jake Haener is collecting nicknames at the rate he throws touchdown passes.

“I’m sure there are things I haven’t heard, too. I’m sure ‘Gamer’ (is one). … I’m sure the players got some really good one,” DeBoer said at his weekly news conference. “I don’t know if there’s any big nicknames that the team has for him right now. I’m sure with all the notoriety, he’s going to get some.”

The Fresno State head football coach keeps it simple, opting for “Jake the Snake.”

Pac-12 broadcaster Ted Robinson bestowed Haener with “The Natural” and “Roy Hobbs” after his movie-character-like heroics in Saturday’s 40-37 victory at UCLA, rallying for the winning TD with 14 seconds remaining.

Despite hobbling around with an apparent hip injury, DeBoer expects Haener to play Friday for nationally ranked Fresno State vs. winless UNLV at Bulldog Stadium.

“I think he’ll be fine. I think he’ll be ready to go. Our training staff will do a great job. (It was) a physical football game for a lot of people. Jake, the thing about him, he just keeps getting up,” DeBoer said.

Haener is feeling the wear and tear after four weeks of hits, DeBoer said. He said it wasn’t a specific problem, but if there is, it is in the “hip area.”

“We know and his teammates believe in the toughness he has. I think just thriving in the moment goes along with that, the mentally tough and the physically tough part,” DeBoer said.

Honors for Haener

Haener’s heroics earned him Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors. The late comeback against then-ranked #13 UCLA also earned Haener plenty of online love and memes.

The senior QB leads the nation in passing yards (1,464) and is in the top 10 in completions (106 for 2nd); attempts (144 for 3rd); completion percentage (73.6% for 8th); touchdowns (10, tied for 4th) and QB rating (7th with 180.5).

“He deserves all the recognition and it’s exciting for him, exciting for us to have that come to him and as well as our football team,” DeBoer said.

ESPN analysist Kirk Herbstreit called Haener the top performer of the week.

Even with his successes, DeBoer says his quarterback is still in the meeting rooms well into the night, studying his next opponent.

Fresno State offensive lineman Alex Akingbulu (75) celebrates with the Red Wave after the win over UCLA at the Rose Bowl. (AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

0-3 UNLV Next Opponent

The Bulldogs start Mountain West play with underwhelming UNLV, an 0-3 team that suffered a 48-3 loss to Iowa State last week and also has a loss this year to FCS team Eastern Washington.

DeBoer sounded like head coaches usual do, vowing not to overlook the Rebels. But, he did encourage his team to savor the UCLA victory.

He called the No. 22 ranking in the AP media poll an “expectation.”

“We’re finally getting to the point where we know (what) we need to be and want to be. And so that’s what’s exciting about it for our program and excited for our kids,” DeBoer said.

DeBoer allowed his players to celebrate what offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb called a “legacy win.”

“Not celebrating it for a little bit anyway, to me would be a shame just because the guys work too hard not to embrace it. And embracing it, I think also really puts it … you can now really focus on what’s important and that’s moving forward and moving on to the next,” DeBoer said.

Thanksgiving Game at San Jose State Will Air on FS1

The Mountain West announced on Monday that kickoff for Fresno State’s Thanksgiving Day matchup at San Jose State has been set for 12:30 p.m.

The game will be broadcast on FS1, conference officials said.

Fresno State still awaits two kickoff times: at Wyoming (Oct. 16) and a home game against Nevada (Oct. 23).

David Taub has spent most of his career in journalism behind the scenes working as a TV assignment editor and radio producer. For more than a decade, he has worked in the Fresno market with such stops at KSEE-24, KMJ and Power Talk 96.7. Taub also worked the production and support side of some of TV sports biggest events including the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals and NASCAR to name a few. Taub graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

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