Scouting report: Gophers vs. Fresno State
6:30 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium (FS1, 100.3-FM)
A look at the Bulldogs
Fresno State went from 1-11 to 10-4 in coach Jeff Tedford’s first season, and the Bulldogs have designs on the Mountain West title and the New Year’s Six bowl berth that goes to the top Group of Five team. Last season, Fresno won eight of its final nine regular season games, lost to Boise State in the MWC title game that was a rematch of the Bulldogs’ victory a week earlier and beat Houston in the Hawaii Bowl. This fall, the Bulldogs got off to a quick start, hammering lowly Idaho 79-13 on the strength of seven rushing touchdowns, two blocked field goal attempts for TDs and an interception return for a TD. The Bulldogs (1-0) are receiving votes in both top 25 polls this week; the Gophers (1-0) are not.
Who to watch: Marcus McMaryion, QB
The transfer from Oregon State, who went 9-2 as a starter last year, was efficient in the opener, completing 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards. His ability to extend plays concerns Gophers coach P.J. Fleck. “When he runs he will kill you, but he is not designing everything in their offense around him running,’’ he said. “When he’s at his most dangerous is when he’s in the pocket and on the run. He can make people miss in the open field. He can take it to the house.’’
From the coach: Jeff Tedford
Tedford, who coached Cal to eight bowl games in 11 years in Berkeley, sees the need for his defense to confuse the Gophers with multiple looks. Pressuring freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad is important for the Bulldogs, too. “They’re very good up front. They’re big, physical offensive linemen who not only are bruisers in the run game, but they’re really efficient in pass protection,’’ Tedford said. “We’re going to have to do our best to try to get at the quarterback somehow, some way. That’s always key: Make sure we’re mixing things up a bit to keep them off-balance. You can’t just line up in the same front every single down and think you’re going to win those battles.’’