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UCLA Football Preview: Don’t Sleep on the Fresno State Offense

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The Fresno State Bulldogs have a very good offensive line. Will the Bruins be able to breakthrough defensively?

Fresno State v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Fresno State Bulldogs come into this season after a rejuvenated first season under head coach Jeff Tedford. They’re coming off of a heart-breaking defeat against the Minnesota Golden Gophers and will be looking to flip the script against the UCLA Bruins this Saturday at the Rose Bowl. Here’s how they look offensively.

Offensive Line

Fresno State’s offensive line is a seasoned group of players which has only allowed one sack so far this season. They’ll stack up with redshirt sophomore Micah St. Andrew at center, and redshirt sophomore Netane Muti and senior Christian Cronk anchoring the left side. On the right side, Fresno State will stack up with JC transfer Markus Boyer and sophomore Syrus Tuitele. Ever since offensive line coach Ryan Grubb took over, he has turned this Bulldogs offensive line into a machine. The Bruins defensive line better be up for the challenge because these guys aren’t pushovers.

Quarterback

The Bulldogs will go with senior Marcus McMaryion as their signal caller. His career at Fresno State has been very up and down, but he was pretty reliable last season. He threw for 2726 yards with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, while averaging 7.7 yards per attempt. UCLA’s secondary will provide a big test for the senior QB. it will be interesting to see if they play it conservative on the road.

Running Backs

Fresno State already has 4 players with 10+ carries so far this year. However, they’ll likely start with sophomore Jordan Mims in the backfield. He’s turned 19 carries this season into 77 yards and three touchdowns. He’s averaging a modest 4.1 yards per carry so far. Don’t be shocked if we see the Bulldogs use Mims in the passing game as well since he’s caught two passes in each of their first two games. Senior Dejonte O’Neal has definitely been the most impressive back for Fresno State this season, though. He’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry (10 carries) including one touchdown. Standing at just 5’7” tall, he’s very elusive and can sneak in between the tackles very well. These two will likely shoulder the load for Fresno State.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends

The guy to watch out for is senior receiver KeeSean Johnson. Johnson has the speed and ability to catch just about any football thrown his way. He’s hauled in 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. More impressively, though, is the fact that he’s averaging 17.3 yards per catch. He had a strong 2017 campaign where he caught 77 passes for 1013 yards and 8 touchdowns. He leads the Bulldogs in receptions. So, expect to see a lot of KeeSean Johnson in this one.

The other receiver to keep your eyes peeled for is tight end Jared Rice. He’s not going to blow you away with his speed, but his 6’5” frame is very difficult to guard against. While he’s only hauled in 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown this season, he can impact the game in more than one way. He’s an excellent run blocker and his versatility to block and also run routes is very valuable to Fresno State’s aerial attack.

Thoughts

The Fresno State Bulldogs should not be taken lightly. Although their offensive numbers might not pop off the screen, they have a bevy of big guys who like to get physical. Their offensive line is very good. If UCLA gets manhandled by this offensive line, we could be looking at an 0-3 start.