ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Coach: Tim DeRuyter, third year, 20-6.
Last year: 11-2 overall, 6-1 in the MWC, tied for first in West Division. Defeated Utah State 24-17 for conference championship, lost 45-20 to USC in Las Vegas Bowl
Predicted 2014 finish: 1st in West Division
Preseason All-Conference: OL Cody Wichman, DL Tyeler Davison, LB Ejiro Ediraine, S Derron Smith (Def. Player of Year).
Starters/lettermen returning: 16/37
Returning statistical leaders: QB Brian Burrell, 7-12, 51 yards, no TDs; RB Josh Quezada, 155-807, 6 TDs; WR Josh Harper, 79-1,011, 13 TDs: LB Karl Mickelsen 97 tackles.
Notable: It’s the power of TV. Starting with their Sept. 26 game at New Mexico, the Bulldogs play four consecutive games on Friday nights. … Harper caught 10 passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ 69-28 rout of New Mexico in November. If that sounds like a lot, consider that Davante Adams, now with the Green Bay Packers, caught nine passes for 246 yards and four TDs in that game. … Fresno State is using a drone with an attached camera to help videotape its practices, the Fresno Bee reported.
Quotable: “The best thing right now is that we have a chip on our shoulder. That’s a dangerous thing, I think, for our Fresno State football team that’s won two championships. They’re angry, and I think that’s good” – defensive coordinator Nick Toth, regarding a Bulldogs defense that ranked 86th nationally in points allowed per game (30.3).
Outlook: DeRuyter took over a basically healthy program from Pat Hill in 2012, revamped the offense and the results have been little short of spectacular. The Bulldogs lose a two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year in QB Derek Carr and a prolific wide receiver in Adams, yet once again are picked to win the West Division.
Aug. 30: at USC
Sept. 6: at Utah
Sept. 13: Nebraska
Sept. 20: Southern Utah
Sept. 26: at New Mexico
Oct. 3: San Diego State
Oct. 10: at UNLV
Oct. 17: Boise State
Nov. 1: at Wyoming
Nov. 8: San Jose State
Nov. 22: at Nevada
Nov. 29: Hawaii
– Rick Wright
First in a series on Mountain West teams. Saturday: San Diego State