Fresno State brings spread offense in matchup with CSU football

Last Saturday, for the first time as a member of the Mountain West, the Fresno State Bulldogs and their high-powered offense scored 52 points in a victory against San Diego State.

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The Bulldogs hope to do the same thing to CSU’s defense this weekend when they come to Fort Collins Saturday night.

Fresno State is led by quarterback Derek Carr, younger brother of NFL quarterback David Carr, who has amassed 1,599 yards through five games this season, 536 of which came against San Diego State last week.

“He’s doing a really good job of leading our guys,” Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said of Carr. “(He’s) doing a nice job of understanding what we’re trying to get done offensively, reading what the defense is giving us and distributing the ball very very well.”

Carr has been able to run Fresno State’s offense so effectively by spreading the defense out and getting multiple receivers in the offense opportunities to catch the ball.

The Bulldogs have three different receivers this season who have over 300 yards receiving on the year and six different receivers with at least 100 yards receiving.

“When you spread people out. … sometimes you get a pretty good athlete out in space versus somebody who may be a half a step slower,” DeRuyter said. “And when you don’t have guys right next to each other (like) in a traditional offense where if somebody misses, the next guy is right there to make up for him, you spread people out, you get more one-on-one’s where if one guy misses, it can be an explosive play.”

Plays that go for big gains have become a hallmark of the the Fresno State offense this season as the Bulldogs rank No. 15 nationally in terms of total yards per game.

“I don’t think it’s an offense that you say I’m gonna totally shut down,” CSU coach Jim McElwain said. “I think the key is don’t allow the explosive plays, make sure we’re tackling fundamentally sound, keep the ball in front of you and make them earn it.”

Fresno State at first glance appears to be a pass-first offense, the polar opposite of the Rams’ opponent last week, Air Force, which ran CSU out of Colorado Springs.

But the Bulldogs’ offense can be successful in the ground game too, as evidenced by their 288-yard team rushing performance in a win against CU-Boulder three weeks ago.

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Fresno State was led in that game by a 144 yard, 2 touchdown game from running back Robbie Rouse, reminding opponents that the Bulldogs have weapons all over the field that can give any defense fits trying to account for.

“Their offense is so explosive because of the players that they have, the quarterback that they have, that we’ll see on Sunday someday, and that running back.” McElwain said. “So if you load the box, you better tackle them otherwise they’re gone.”

Football Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.