Fresno State receiver Isaiah Burse added to watch list for Paul Hornung Award

Fresno State receiver Isaiah Burse, who is three receptions short of reaching 100 for his caeer and also returns kickoffs for the Bulldogs, was added to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which goes to the most versatile player in college football.

Burse is averaging 115.3 all-purpose yards per game and is tied for fifth in the Mountain West Conference with 44 receptions and 517 receiving yards. He has scored five touchdowns, one rushing and four receiving.

The junior also has returned 18 kickoffs for an average of 22.6 yards and eight punts for an average of 10.2 yards.


Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas has numbers that stack up well against anyone

Manti Te’o is a pretty good football player and the linebacker at Notre Dame has been the focus of a lot of attention this season, gaining a strong foothold in the Heisman Trophy race after recording 11 tackles, one sack and one interception last week in a solid road victory at No. 8 Oklahoma.

He is having a tremendous season, has a great back story.

But he isn’t necessarily the most productive defensive player in the bowl subdivision – or even at his position. Te’o has been in on 80 tackles, tied for 19th in the nation. But there are a few players out there with pretty good numbers including, Fresno State points out, Bulldogs’ safety Phillip Thomas, who on Monday was selected as one of 15 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award.

How do Te’o and Thomas compare at this point in the season?

Tackles – Te’o 80, Thomas 55

Tackles for loss – Thomas 7.0 for minus-30 yards, Te’o 4.5 for minus-14

Sacks – Thomas 3.0 for minus-19 yards, Teo 1.0 for minus-9

QB hurries – Te’o 4, Thomas 1

Interceptions – Thomas 7, Te’o 5

Touchdowns – Thomas 3, Te’o 0

Pass Breakups – Thomas 4, Te’o 3

Fumble recoveries – Te’o 2, Thomas 1

Forced fumbles – Thomas 3, Te’o 0

Georgia has a pretty good linebacker in Jarvis Jones, too, and is well ahead of Te’o in several important statistical categories.

Jones already has 14 tackles for loss for a minus-84 yards, 8.5 sacks for a minus-69 yards, 15 quarterback hurries and five forced fumbles.



‘Dogs having to refile flight plans more often, as defenses scheme to slow them down

At the end of the game, the Fresno State Bulldogs had 49 points on the scoreboard, 600 yards of total offense on the stat sheet and a road victory at New Mexico.

But counting back from there and often in large chunks – the Bulldogs produced 19 plays of 10 yards or more and seven of 20 or more against the Lobos, including an 89-yard scoring pass from quarterback Derek Carr to Davante Adams – there is trouble brewing.

On its first drive, Fresno State was three-and-out, losing 11 yards. On its second, New Mexico picked off a Carr pass that ricocheted off his intended receiver and returned it for a touchdown. The Bulldogs then punted and turned over the ball on downs and punted again, their first five series against producing no points and 68 yards.

And what turned it around are adjustments Carr said the Bulldogs will have to make more often in the final third of the season as they get new and different looks from opposing defenses, basically revising their flight plan when on the sidelines.

‘’We knew going into the game that whatever blitz they showed, that’s kind of what they’re going to stick with,’’ Carr said. ‘’But I was talking to my brother (David) about it. Teams his senior year, whatever they did on film, they didn’t do it when they played him and that’s kind of what they did.

‘’That’s what teams are starting to do to us, and it says a lot about the weapons that we have. We saw things on film, and this is not the first time we’ve seen this, but we see things on film and they come out and do something totally different. It took us a little bit to get used to, but we knew once we saw what coverage they were going to play that we could rely on that and attack it.

‘’(Offensive coordinator Dave Schramm) did a great job of figuring it out and drawing up some stuff on the sideline and really game-planning it that way.’’

Once dialed in, Fresno State scored touchdowns on seven of its next nine possessions and the Bulldogs efficiently sliced up that defense.

They went 77 yards in six plays and one minute, 22 seconds, to score their first touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Carr to Victor Dean, and only one of their touchdown drives took more than three minutes off the game clock.

It was 72 yards in 2:43, and 35 yards in 2:11, and 84 yards in 52 seconds; scoring pass to Adams, scoring pass to tight end Marcel Jensen, another scoring pass to Adams.

They were gone, wiping out a 21-0 first quarter deficit in a quarter and a half of football.

Schramm credited the Bulldogs’ defense for continually getting stops and giving them opportunities to right things, but communication between the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator, Carr and assistant Phil Earley in the press box is instrumental in identifying coverages and putting together a plan of attack.

‘’Phil is upstairs and he sees everything and Derek is great,’’ Schramm said. ‘’When I’m on the sidelines I’m looking at certain things and Derek sees it. I’ve got to make sure No. 1 he’s seeing the same things I am and in talking to Phil, it’s ‘OK, what is that safety doing? OK, this is what they’re trying to do.’ Is it bracket coverage? Are they just playing two over the top of one? What are they doing?

‘’They were doing some different stuff coverage-wise than they had shown all year and obviously we hadn’t prepared for it. Once we figured out what they were doing – it was unique; it was not something that was very conventional – so it just takes a while to say, OK, this is what they’re trying to do, so this is what we’re going to do. We attacked them with a tempo drive and got them on their heels a bit and from there, we just had to catch up. The thing that was great was our guys, they hung in there, they didn’t panic, they understood that we were going to get it figured out.

‘’After we figured out what they were doing it was, OK, this is the plan and here we go.’’

Carr figures the Bulldogs will be at it again on Saturday against Hawaii, again in two weeks at Nevada and in the final game of the regular season against the Air Force.

‘’That’s one thing I was talking to my brother about, because I wanted to get his input – how do you really get ready for that? And he tells me, you’ve seen all the coverages, you’ve seen all the blitzes, just maybe that team hasn’t run it,’’ said the Bulldogs’ quarterback, who has thrown for 2,766 yards and 26 touchdowns, second and tied for second in the bowl subdivision, in his first nine games working with Schramm and the new up-tempo spread offense.

‘’You get used to seeing something on film and then, bam, they hit you with something else, quote-unquote, a left hook out of nowhere. He told me just play it smart, get a feel for what they’re doing, but at the same time just play your game. You’ve seen the coverages, so don’t let it surprise you.’’


Career milestones will set the Bulldogs’ Robbie Rouse apart

Robbie Rouse already has set a Fresno State record for career rushing yards and is one of the most prolific running backs in school history. He holds or has a share of eight schools records, and on Saturday against Hawaii will become the first Bulldogs’ back to put together three 1,000-yard seasons.

He is sitting on 999 yards. ‘’I think he’ll get it,’’ Coach Tim DeRuyter joked.

But Rouse also is close to two career milestones that will be a separator years down the line when debating the merits of Fresno State running backs – with 96 receptions he is four short of 100 and he is just 155 all-purpose yards from joining Bernard Berrian as the only Bulldogs to top 5,000.

With 49 receptions just this season, Rouse already has more than Ryan Mathews (19) had in his Fresno State career and almost as many as Ron Rivers (56) and Dwayne Wright (51) had in theirs; Mathews, Rivers and Wright ranking third, fifth and second on the Bulldogs’ career rushing list.

‘’He’s done a great job,’’ offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said. ‘’It was one of the aspects I wanted to gain, to show people we have a back and you don’t have to just worry about him I the run game he’s going to catch the ball out of the backfield. We’ve designed some things to get him the ball, some screens and things like that, but a lot of times they’re just check downs.

‘’That guy in the open field, in space, when they’re covering our receivers down the field, that’s critical for us. That’s been a great aspect to the offense so far this year.

‘’We’re seeing some teams that want to drop eight guys and play a lot more pass defense, but they always have to know where he is. I mean, you can drop it down to him and a 2-yard pass can turn into a 25-yard play just because he’s so good with the ball in his hands.’’

Hawaii figures to be the Road Warriors by the time they get to Fresno

Hawaii will be playing a back-to-back road game on Saturday at Fresno State, and the Warriors’ record in those scheduling situations has never been very good.

Already this season, they lost at San Diego State 52-14 in the second of consecutive road games. Last year, they lost at Nevada-Las Vegas 40-20 the week after losing at Washington. In 2010, they lost at Colorado 31-13 the week after a road win at Army.

They have not won the second of back-to-back road games since beating a New Mexico State team in 2008 that went 3-9.

But it is even more challenging this year for Coach Norm Chow – Hawaii, unlike an overwhelming majority of college football teams, is taking commercial rather than charter flights. The Warriors travel itinerary this week starts after practice and meetings on Thursday, when they fly to Los Angeles. They will spend Thursday night in a hotel there, before taking buses on Friday over the Grapevine and up 99 to Fresno. After the game on Saturday they will bus back to Los Angeles and again spend the night in a hotel before catching a flight home on Sunday morning.

They had the same schedule, but more travel, last week when playing at Colorado State.

‘’The tough part is, it’s a commercial flight,’’ Chow said. ‘’When we’re on commercial flights, we’re sitting next to a family that’s going to Disneyland for the weekend, that kind of deal. The big guys sit back in coach and it’s just tough. But we’re used to it. Our guys, we don’t make excuses. Our guys are used to it and they handle themselves properly. We just have to do it that way.’’

The Warriors’ coach isn’t making excuses, but the travel does take a toll.

‘’I think it takes a tremendous toll,’’ Chow said. ‘’Again, no excuses. But it’s five hours, and we spent a lot of time talking to some people, sleep psychologists, over the summer and they claim that for every time zone you cross it takes a day to recover and we go across three time zones before we even land, and then we go to another one when we went to Fort Collins, Colo.’’

Fresno State won’t hold back end Andy Jennings; if he’s healthy, he plays against Hawaii

Andy Jennings made it through only a couple of plays at New Mexico before reinjuring a right foot that kept him off the practice field the through the middle of last week.

But the junior defensive end intends to be a go again on Saturday when Fresno State plays Hawaii at Bulldog Stadium, and there is no thought to holding him back with a game at Nevada and against the Air Force to close out the season – Hawaii is 1-6 and 0-4 in the conference while the Wolf Pack is 6-3 and 3-2 and the Falcons are 5-3 and at 4-1 in the MWC tied for second with the Bulldogs and San Diego State.

“We’re planning on Andy playing and Andy told me (Monday), ‘I’m planning on playing, coach.’ And I told him, ‘We’re planning on playing you,’ ” defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. ”We’re not worried about the opponent. If he can play, he’ll play.

”We’re not going to save him for anything- you don’t get enough opportunities. The kid works 12 months a year for these (games). If he is 70 percent and he can go, he’s going to go. I’m not going to save anybody. Unless he tells me, ‘I can’t go,’ he’s going to play. There’s no thought of saving him for the next week.’’

VIDEO: Fresno State left tackle Austin Wentworth

The Fresno State Bulldogs made some personnel changes in their offensive line last week, leading in to a 49-32 victory at New Mexico. Freshman Alex Fifita went in at the right guard, while Cody Wichmann moved inside to the right guard from tackle.

After a slow start, the Bulldogs ended up churning out 600 yards of offense and Coach Tim DeRuyter said they are likely to use the same lineup this week in a Mountain West Conference match up against Hawaii.

Left tackle Austin Wentworth discussed the changes and the Bulldogs’ line play at their weekly press conference.

VIDEO: Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter

Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter recapped a 49-32 victory at New Mexico at his weekly press conference and answered some questions about Hawaii, which visits Bulldog Stadium on Saturday in a Mountain West Conference game.

The Bulldogs hold some significant advantages over Hawaii, which is 1-6 in its first season under Coach Norm Chow.

A quick comparison of some key stats:

Fresno State, 37.6 ppg
Hawaii, 21.7 ppg

Total offense:
Fresno State, 475.4 ypg
Hawaii, 302.4 ypg

Scoring defense:
Fresno State, 22.9 ppg
Hawaii, 42.3 ppg

Total defense:
Fresno State, 333.7 ypg
Hawaii, 410.9 ypg

Fresno State QB Derek Carr is Mountain West Conference player of the week

Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr has been selected as the Mountain West Conference offensive player of the week, after throwing for 416 yards and four touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 49-32 victory at New Mexico.

Carr completed 31 of 44 passes (70.4 percent) in leading the Bulldogs back from a 21-0 deficit, outscoring the Lobos 35-8 in the second half.

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‘Dogs o-line appears set with the freshman Alex Fifita at right tackle

Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter said on Sunday that he was pleased with the play of Alex Fifita in the Bulldogs’ 49-32 victory at New Mexico, the first start college start for the 6-foot-4, 290-pound true freshman.

Fifita started at right tackle, with Cody Wichmann moving inside to right guard.

‘’I was really pleased with how Alex Fifita competed,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’For a true freshman coming in, he gave us a really, really good effort. Now, assignment-wise we’ve got to continue to work with him, as you’d expect for a true freshman. But I think he’s got a great future there and what it allows us to do when he’s there is put Cody into his more natural position, which is guard.’’

If guard James Le’au returns to practice this week after sitting out the victory at New Mexico with a slight ankle injury, DeRuyter said there will be some competition on the offensive line. Whether that competition is at the right guard between Wichmann and Le’au, or at right tackle between Wichmann and Fifita, remains to be seen.

But the Bulldogs are likely to stick with the same combination on Saturday when they play Hawaii in a Mountain West Conference game.

‘’I anticipate it will be the one we just played with on Saturday,’’ De Ruyter said.