2022 Fresno St. Bulldogs Preview

by Matt Fargo

Fresno St. Bulldogs

2021-22 Season Record 10-3 (6-2 MWC West) - 9-4-0 ATS - 6-7-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 8
Defense - 7

Overview

It has been a roller coaster for Fresno St. since entering the MWC in 2012 as it has had five winning seasons, including four double-digit win campaigns, four losing seasons and a .500 finish during the shortened COVID year. The Bulldogs finished a game out of first place behind San Diego St. in the MWC West Division and advanced to the New Mexico Bowl where they defeated UTEP. Head coach Kalen DeBoer left the program prior to the bowl game as he went to Washington and Fresno St. rehired Jeff Tedford who took two years off from coaching and he was responsible for two of those double-digit victory seasons. He inherits a roster loaded with talent with 15 returning starters that will give San Diego St. another run in the division. The Bulldogs are No. 21 in returning production and have a favorable conference schedule that could get them to a conference championship.

Offense

The offense was fun to watch last season as the Bulldogs finished No. 14 in the country in total yards and No. 28 in scoring offense. Led by quarterback Jake Haener, who has been very efficient the last two seasons, the passing game has taken off and now going into his third season as the starter, the Bulldogs should keep rolling. He threw for 3,810 yards on a 67.5 percent completion rate while tossing 32 touchdowns with nine interceptions, seven coming in two games, and has most everything back around him. His top two receivers in Jalen Cooper and Josh Kelly are back after combining for 1,595 yards and 14 touchdowns so the passing offense that finished No. 9 in the nation will be just as potent. The offensive line is experienced with three starters back along with a key transfer coming in and will look to open holes for Jordan Mims who takes over as the starter after 545 yards last season.

Defense

The defense did its job last season as Fresno St. finished No. 31 overall and No. 21 in points allowed and should be even better this year. The top three tacklers are back as Evan Williams, Malachi Langley and Levelle Bailey combined for 192 tackles during the regular season and will be a force once again. The defensive line is formidable but does have some work to do after losing Arron Mosby, who was second on the team with five sacks, and the run defense has to sustain its presence after finishing No. 24 in the nation in yards allowed with 127.3 ypg, nearly a 90-yard improvement per game from 2020. Langley and Bailey anchor the linebacking corps and the unit gets stronger thanks to the transfer portal. The secondary was the weakness but still finished No. 45 in passing yards allowed and with three starters back, they look to surpass their 11 interceptions from last year.

2022 Season Outlook

Tedford brought a winning culture into the program following a 4-20 combined record in two seasons prior to his arrival and being in better shape in his second stint should keep that going. The No. 18 final AP Poll ranking in 2018 was the highest in program history and they can be better than that team. The Bulldogs open with Cal Poly before squaring off against a pair of Pac 12 opponents, at home against Oregon St. and then at USC with the latter being a game that could make it a special season with a win. They open the MWC season with a tough game at Boise St. but after that, there is only one real roadblock and that is a home game against San Deigo St. that could decide the division in late October. The O/U win total is 8.5 which is big but the over is very attainable as long as Fresno St. can avoid an upset like the one they suffered last season at Hawaii. They are right in the mix again. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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