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Schedule and Odds
Fresno State struggled to do anything on both sides of the football last year and was one of the worst in the MWC in most categories. That led to a 3-9 overall record with two wins in conference play. And so, head coach Tim DeRuyter decided to bring in a couple SEC guys to be his new coordinators. Former Alabama assistant Eric Kiesau comes in to take over the offense while former South Carolina coordinator Lorenzo Ward leads the defense. With a lack of returning talent, this is more of a rebuilding season for the Bulldogs.
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That can be seen at almost every position on the offensive side. A year after using four quarterbacks, Chason Virgil (56 pass attempts) is back to try his hand after getting hurt in just the third game last year. His job is by no means safe, though, with Ford Childress (34 pass attempts) still there and freshman Quentin Davis. The Bulldogs would like to focus on the running game more so this season, but they'll need to find a new back to lead that charge. Dontel James is the favorite to get the most touches with freshman Wesley Hill behind him.
The offensive line also has its issues with three starters gone. The best part of Fresno's offense is at receiver, although that won't matter if the quarterback can't get them the ball. Jamire Jordan (540 yards, 5 TDs), Da'Mari Scott (364 yards, 3 TDs) and KeeSean Johnson (337 yards, 2 TDs) all return in addition to Aaron Peck and tight end Chad Olsen. This group scored 22.3 points per game last year and finished last in the MWC in yards per game, so the only way to go is up.
And the same can be said for the defense that gave up an MWC-worst 38.1 points per game last year. This side of the ball also lacks returning talent, but that shouldn't be a huge deal with Ward bringing in a new 3-4 scheme.
The Bulldogs went out and grabbed some junior college players to fill the major hole at nose tackle, while Nate Madsen moves back out to end. Linebacker is in decent shape with Jeff Camilli still there to go with sophomore Nela Otukolo and outside backer James Bailey. The secondary was probably the best unit of the defense last year and could be the same again. Corners Tyquwan Glass and Daquawn Brown lead the way with seniors filtered through the two-deep in the secondary. Of course, even a small improvement from this defense would still have them as one of the worst in the conference again.
Fresno State has fallen off mightily since DeRuyter's first two seasons and it's going to take a lot for them to get back to a bowl game this year. Their non-conference schedule doesn't help with road games at Nebraska and Toledo to go with a home game against Tulsa. All of those could result in losses, although it's an easier schedule than 2015 when they had one win. Wins will be tough to come by with their last two home games of the year against Hawaii and San Jose State being the best chances. If they want to reach a bowl game, winning at UNLV or upsetting a team like Air Force has to be done.
With so many new faces and an offense that should struggle again, it's hard to see this team reaching six wins.
2016 Fresno State Bulldogs Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Nebraska
Sept. 10 vs. Sacramento State
Sept. 17 at Toledo
Sept. 24 vs. Tulsa
Oct. 1 at UNLV
Oct. 8 at Nevada
Oct. 14 vs. San Diego State
Oct. 22 at Utah State
Oct. 28 vs. Air Force
Nov. 5 at Colorado State
Nov. 19 vs. Hawaii
Nov. 26 vs. San Jose State
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