Sunday, October 25, 2009

Grading the 'Dogs (4-3, 3-1) @ New Mexico State (3-5, 1-3)

FRESNO STATE 34, New Mexico State 3

Quarterbacks: C-
Despite a beautiful 51-yard toss to Jamel Hamler in the second half, it was the worst overall outing of Ryan Colburn's career. The first half was error-laden with a pick in the end zone, another near pick at the goal line and a lost fumble. Colburn finished the first half 4 of 10 for just 58 yards -- just plain not good enough. Especially with Derek Carr waiting on the sideline for an opportunity. Carr completed 4 of 6 passes in just two possessions, good for 57 yards. If the 'Dogs are going to pull the trigger on a QB change, now's the time.

Running Backs: B+
Even facing eight or nine defenders in the box, Ryan Mathews couldn't be stopped. He was held under his yards per carry average, but still managed 6.3 per carry and had 157 yards and two touchdowns, including a 68-yard, hurdling rumble to the end zone. Mathews also got credited with a fumble that wasn't a fumble (and the 'Dogs failed to call for a review). The other running backs were contained -- Robbie Rouse had his least impressive showing with four carries for 15 yards, and Lonyae Miller struggled even more with four carries for two yards. But the lack of a passing threat made things too tough on the backs.

Receivers: B
They were open and they caught the ball when it was catchable. Seyi Ajirotutu had three grabs for 64 yards, while Jamel Hamler had three catches for 63 yards. Hamler got extra reps with Devon Wylie out with injury.

Offensive Line: B-
Two more sacks allowed, and just 4.8 yards per carry as a team (which isn't good for this Bulldogs squad). The o-line played well considering the Aggies were selling out to stop the run, but in his first game back from injury against Cininnati, Joey Bernardi made things tough on Colburn with a couple high snaps.

Defensive Line: A
Havoc. It's what the Bulldogs want to cause every week, and it's exactly what they did cause on Saturday. Everyone on the defensive front was making tackles, getting into the backfield and pressuring the QB. Cornell Banks and Kenny Borg each had sacks and Chase McEntee had two tackles for losses. Wilson Ramos, Matt Akers and Logan Harrell were in on the tackle-for-loss action too. Take away the big run on the Aggies' first possession, and this performance was an A+.

Linebackers: A-
Another big game for big Ben Jacobs (13 tackles, two for losses). And credit Shawn Plummer for stepping up with a sack on an attempted QB scramble and batting a pass away. The only negative was the 70-yard first-quarter run.

Defensive Backs: A+
Can't ask for anything better than holding the starting QB to minus-1 yard passing on four completions. These guys were all over the place and in the receivers' faces. Granted, the Aggies have very little talent, but credit these guys for playing as well as the possibly could. It was A.J. Jefferson's best defensive performance of the year, Desia Dunn is getting stronger as the season goes and Lorne Bell (who also had a pick-six) is back to laying the wood. And how 'bout Phillip Thomas and Zak Hill popping the Aggies' QB as he tried to scramble to the end zone on fourth down. He's gonna feel that for a while.

Special Teams: A+
You're darn right. That's Bulldog Football. A blocked field goal. A Marlon Moore punt return inside the 10-yard line. Another Moore punt return to set up a field goal seconds before halftime. An 88-yard Chastin West punt return for a touchdown -- the Bulldogs' first special teams score of the year. And don't forget Andrew Shapiro booting 4 of 6 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks. Or Kevin Goessling making field goals from 23 and 43 yards -- he's now 9 of 10 on the season.

Coaching: C+
The special teams unit was sure ready, and the defense adjusted after the first series to dominate. But Colburn struggled and the coaches left him in too long. Mathews was the only guy who could move the chains early, yet the 'Dogs passed on third and short, and gave lots of reps to Miller and Rouse in the first quarter when it just wasn't working.

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