Changes are ahead at Fresno State after Jeff Tedford resigned for health reasons following a 4-8 campaign.
New head coach Kalen DeBoer brings a bit of a different approach after serving as offensive coordinator at Indiana, Fresno State and Eastern Michigan the last few years. The Bulldogs are expected to get back to a bowl with an over/under of 6 wins and +2500 odds to win the MWC.
The biggest thing for DeBoer will be deciding his starting quarterback. Washington transfer Jake Haener has the leg up, but he has no collegiate experience. At the least, the rushing attack should get the offense to near last year’s levels of 386 yards and 30 points per game.
Most of the pieces are back from a group that averaged 4.9 yards per carry including the majority of linemen who received starts. If they can stay healthy, the line could be a strong suit for the team.
Either way, running back will be loaded because Ronnie Rivers (899 yards, 13 TDs) gets some help in the backfield as Jordan Mims is back from injury and sophomore Jevon Bigelow will get carries between the tackles.
Rivers was also one of the top receivers with 43 receptions last season and top wideout Zane Pope (529 yards) joins him. The passing game will have its issues with a new quarterback, but the rushing attack should be set.
Defensively, FSU is hoping to return to relevance after a down 2019 that saw them give up 419.8 yards and 30.1 points per game. That’s where new coordinator William Inge enters the picture after serving various roles at Indiana the past few years, most recently Special Teams Coordinator.
This group was one of the best in the country a couple seasons ago and a few of those players are still around, though moving to a 4-2-5 scheme could lead to growing pains.
Middle linebacker Justin Rice (112) is the best of the bunch and should again be set for huge numbers alongside Arron Mosby. The line and secondary have a few more questions.
There’s hope for tackle Kevin Atkins, but he and the other upperclassmen on the line need to do more. The secondary is a bit younger, at least at safety, while junior corners Chris Gaston and Wylan Free provide decent experience.
The lack of an offseason didn’t help the inexperienced quarterbacks, but Fresno State has a favorable early schedule that should lead to some wins. While there are games at Colorado and Texas A&M, home matchups against Idaho State and NMSU make up for them.
Their MWC schedule also isn’t too bad as they avoid both Boise State and Wyoming. Because of schedule, the Bulldogs have a decent chance to hit six wins and make a bowl.
Quarterback could be an issue, but the offense isn’t expected to change much under DeBoer, mainly because he kept offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb. If the line can stay healthy, the ground game may be all they need to make a bowl.
2020 Fresno State Bulldogs Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Idaho State
Sept. 12 at Colorado
Sept. 26 vs. Air Force
Oct. 3 at Colorado State
Oct. 10 at Texas A&M
Oct. 17 vs. New Mexico State
Oct. 24 at Nevada
Oct. 31 vs. Hawai’i
Nov. 7 at UNLV
Nov. 14 at Utah State
Nov. 21 vs. San Diego State
Nov. 28 vs. San Jose State