FRESNO — Idaho defensive coordinator Mark Criner will be reeling through film this week showing three different Fresno State quarterbacks: starter Tom Brandstater, and gimmick quarterbacks Clifton Smith and Tim Lang. The Bulldogs will be doing the same.
Vandals quarterback Brian Nooy — a fifth-year senior — started his first college game Saturday against San Jose State in place of injured starter Nathan Enderle. The Vandals mixed things up against the Spartans, subbing in freshman quarterback Quin Ashley for spurts to provide a running threat via the option.
First-year Idaho coach Robb Akey, formerly defensive coordinator at Washington State, said the quarterback shifts significantly affect defensive blitz schemes and coverage packages. Ideally, they create offensive scoring opportunities. “It’s a hell of an advantage,” Akey said. “I hope it can tone down some of what defenses do, their aggressiveness towards things. They have to make sure they’re going to be assignment correct.”
That Ashley-styled Idaho twist at quarterback also helps take pressure off Nooy, who threw for 68 yards on 8-of-15 passing in the Vandals’ 28-20 loss Saturday. Nooy threw two interceptions, on the last two drives of the game, and no touchdowns. Akey on Monday said he would not hesitate to throw the ball, even though the Vandals rushed 43 times for 183 yards and a touchdown Saturday. “I’m not afraid (to throw the ball) and never will be,” Akey said. “Unfortunately, some of the throws we did have early didn’t get delivered.”
Fresno State coach Pat Hill compared playing against Nooy to that of playing against Nevada backup Colin Kaepernick in the Bulldogs’ 49-41 win Saturday.
Kaepernick — who played up Highway 99 at Turlock’s Pitman High School — came into the game for injured quarterback Nick Graziano and the Bulldogs didn’t know what to expect. This week, however, they have the advantage of at least one Nooy game tape and a week to analyze that film.
“We didn’t really understand how fast (Kaepernick) was,” Hill said. “We don’t know enough about (Nooy) yet. There aren’t many snaps of him. But we’ll spend a lot of time (watching film) today and tonight. It always seems when a new quarterback comes in, the team rallies around the new quarterback. Like they really rallied around the kid from Nevada.”
WAC honors: Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews and kickoff returner A.J. Jefferson received Western Athletic Conference players of the week awards Monday.
Mathews rushed 14 times for 171 yards and three touchdowns against Nevada on Saturday, helping the offense reignite after a sluggish performance vs. Louisiana Tech the previous week.
Jefferson returned three kicks for 108 yards, giving the Bulldogs solid field position. They scored touchdowns on each drive. Jefferson's highlight of the day, though, also was the game-changing play of the day. He recovered and returned a blocked field goal 40 yards for a touchdown. The score gave the Bulldogs a 28-13 advantage before halftime.