Monday, November 2, 2009

Grading the 'Dogs (5-3, 4-1) vs. Utah State (2-6, 1-3)

Quarterbacks: C+
Ryan Colburn's hot and cold periods aren't helping the 'Dogs. He started the game on fire, ended the first half with three head-scratching plays and an interception, rebounded in the second half and then disappeared the final 10 minutes or so. 1 TD, 1 pick. Average at best.

Running Backs: A
Eight yards per carry for Ryan Mathews. 185 yards total. Two touchdowns. A 46-yard scamper. Mathews was the reason Fresno State won, and his big-play ability was on display all day, the Bulldogs just didn't give it to him enough in the first quarter (he was supposedly hurting a bit). But just one carry for Lonyae Miller and none for Robbie Rouse? That's hard to figure out, especially considering Mathews was sidelined for a couple short stretches.

Receivers: B
In our game preview on Friday, we said Seyi Ajirotutu had developed into a big-time college wideout -- a statement that proved prophetic with his 7 catches for 124 yards and a clutch 18-yard TD on third and long. Jamel Hamler was a playmaker for the second straight week with 5 grabs for 53 yards, again seeing an increased role because of Devon Wylie's injury. But Chastin West's third-down drop of an easy catch on a quick slant hurt bad in the first half. And Marlon Moore disappeared again.

Offensive Line: A
The 'Dogs dominated in the trenches and you don't have to take our word for it. Utah State coach Gary Andersen said the same in this week's WAC teleconference. The 'Dogs averaged 7 yards per carry as a team, and Colburn was protected well all day -- no sacks allowed.

Defensive Line: C+
At times, it was like watching a Pop Warner game where the really fast kid literally runs circles around the other kids. The defensive front was in Diondre Borel's face all game, but he just ran away, behind and around them and made plays. Logan Harrell had the game's only sack, but Utah State had allowed 20 sacks on the year. Credit Cornell Banks (3 tackles) and this group for stuffing the run up the middle for the most part, and credit Chris Carter for 10 tackles and 3.5 tackles for losses.

Linebackers: C
Still confused why the 'Dogs leave three linebackers on the field so often instead of putting more speed out there with an extra defensive back? These guys were in a tough predicament, but struggled in pass coverage in the first half, and had trouble consistently sticking to their option assignments.

Defensive Backs: C
Becoming more and more impressed with Isaiah Green as he's getting more opportunities to play. He had the only pass breakup of the game. After three straight standout performances by Desia Dunn, he got burned early by Stanley Morrison. Lack of aggression in the secondary was a big reason why 'Dogs weren't stopping drives in first half.

Special Teams: C+
Give tons of credit to Kevin Goessling for nailing a 50-yard field goal -- his second straight 50-plus-yarder in as many years against Utah State. But A.J. Jefferson fumbling a kick return away just before halftime almost cost the 'Dogs the ballgame. Robert Malone's punt that was downed at the 1-yard line in crunch time was definitely a game-changer.

Coaching: C
Credit this staff for amping the 'Dogs up at halftime and spurring a second-half shutout of the Aggies, but first-half playcalling was confusing and it took too long to make defensive adjustments. No matter how many were stacked in the box, Aggies couldn't stop the run, so why did the 'Dogs go away from it so early? Make 'em prove they can stop it first.

***Photo courtesy of Juan Villa.

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