Remember the days that Fresno State used to be one of the hotbeds for offensive innovation on the West Coast? I'm asking you because I don't really remember. That happened like a decade and a half ago. But I remember Fresno having some pretty tight offenses that were tough to stop. This was back in the heyday of the West Coast offense, when some quarterbacks proved they could handle the system and really put overmatched defenses to their knees.
It's sad how far the Bulldogs have fallen since those glory days; they're just struggling to keep up with conference expansion, much less offensive innovation. Take these "keys to stopping Oregon", which sounds like the key to the door to finding the Architect of the Matrix.
"The number one thing is getting lined up," Toth said. "You look at people who have fared poorly against (Oregon), they're not lined up. They're snapping the ball and on defense guys are looking to the sideline, they don't have their hand on the ground, they're not where they need to be, so half of it is getting where you want to be and getting lined up.
"It's getting lined up and finishing plays, that's the key. Once you get lined up, you've got half the battle, but then you have to go play well. This week we're just going to work the heck out of hustling to alignment and stressing them early and finishing every play in practice."
Man, he makes it sound so easy. It's almost like he's talking about the most basic elements of stopping any offense. Although I do like the part about "playing well"; for a second I thought "playing poorly on D" was the magic formula to stopping the Ducks (at least you get the ball back quick). Because Fresno is really good at playing poorly on D; they gave up 6.37 yards per play last season to teams that included New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech; everyone who is returning isn't really worth considering as a defensive playmaker as opposed to a guy filling a position.
It's all false bravado. Just like this game is just false bravado. Oregon has a routine non-conference schedule, and nothing in this game dissuades us of another six to seven touchdown rout. A quick win in the back pocket for the Ducks and it's onto next week.
SB Nation snippets
And called upon they will be. Oregon is again expected to put the game away in the first half and is favored to win by 34 points. In addition to that Fresno State plans to run a no huddle, spread offense in hopes of keeping up with Oregon, which will invariably lead to more reps for both the Oregon offense and defense. Oregon will be rotating about 25 players on defense all year and the soft non-conference schedule provides a great opportunity to get everyone in sync and playing with the same degree of intensity and focus, regardless of the points on the scoreboard.
Stop explosive plays. Last year the Fresno State Bulldogs was the 9th best offense in terms of explosive plays according to Football Outsiders FEI rating. Oregon was rated fourth. Fresno State is also running a no huddle hurry up and is trying to match Oregon's speed. With no huddle hurry-up offenses there is a snowball effect once defenses get caught on their heels.
Create their own explosive plays. Fresno State was ranked 114th in limiting explosive plays on defense. 114th! Get the ball to De'Anthony, or Barner, or Mariota. You know what, just get the ball to somebody in space.