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Fresno State

College Football

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Fresno State has the pieces to improve from last year’s miserable campaign, winning one game with none of those coming in conference play. The Bulldogs brought in new head coach Jeff Tedford, who spent a decade leading Cal before heading to various spots in various leagues and most recently was the assistant for Washington. Tedford has an experienced quarterback and 16 returning starters to work with, so improvement is expected.

Sophomore Chase Virgil won’t blow anyone away after completing 51.6% of his passes for 13 TDs and 10 INTs last year, but he won the position in the spring and has talent around him. A lot of that comes in the receiving corps with KeeSean Johnson (773 yards, 6 TDs) and Jamire Jordan (713 yards) still around. Dontel James (697 yards, 5 TDs) leads a backfield that has numerous pieces with sophomore Josh Hokit expected to see more time. Maybe the best news is that the line will feature four returning starters, which should help for a more pro-based offense. This group scored only 17.7 points per game a year ago so they won’t be destroying opponents anytime soon, but they should be better in all facets.

The Fresno State defense wasn’t terrible last year, and was technically the strong suit of the team allowing 30.9 points per game. Moving to a 4-3 defense, the hope is that the Bulldogs can stop the ground game after getting gashed for close to 250 rushing yards per contest. The line is loaded with seniors and experience so that could go a long way, and it’s the same at linebacker with a couple returning starters in Robert Stanley and James Bailey. The secondary was considered good last season mainly because most offenses attacked them on the ground. If the Bulldogs can improve as a whole, there’s no reason this team can’t win a few more games with the offense expected to be a notch better, as well.

The early season will be rough with trips to Alabama and Washington, but Fresno has chances in early MWC play to grab a couple wins with Nevada and New Mexico coming to town along with a trip to SJSU in the middle of those. Without a win in any of those games, it could be another long season for the Bulldogs because the second half of the schedule picks up in conference play to go with a game against BYU. There are opportunities for wins early in the year to go with ones against UNLV and Hawaii, but a bowl game will be too big of a leap for this team coming off a one-win season.

Tedford turned things around in his first season at Cal, but this is a different situation. Four or five wins are on the table, but Virgil is still a work in progress at quarterback and the defense can’t be relied upon just yet to take over games in a conference full of experienced quarterbacks and solid running games. The Bulldogs have the worst odds to win the conference at +6600 (as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook).


2017 Fresno State Bulldogs Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Incarnate Word
Sept. 9 at Alabama

Sept. 16 at Washington
Sept. 30 vs. Nevada

Oct. 7 at San Jose State
Oct. 14 vs. New Mexico
Oct. 21 at San Diego State

Oct. 28 vs. UNLV
Nov. 4 vs. BYU
Nov. 11 at Hawaii
Nov. 18 at Wyoming
Nov. 25 vs. Boise State

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