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September 16, 2013
The Fresno State Bulldogs kicked off "Red Wave Takeover" week on Monday with coach Tim DeRuyter's weekly press conference. As much as the coaches and players would like to think different, for the fans this week is very different with rival Boise State coming to town.
The Bulldogs recently cracked the top-25 in the USA Today poll for the first time under DeRuyter. With Boise on their minds, the 'Dogs are focused only on their opponent and look at this game as a chance to solidify and earn their respective ranking.
"It's a nice feeling to be ranked in the top-25," DeRuyter said. "I'm not sure it's totally deserved yet, but the great thing about football is you get opportunities to play, nationally it doesn't hurt us but we've got to go out and earn it. I'm excited we're finally in a conference play game with Boise coming in on Friday, it's a nationally televised games which always helps our school's profile and our program's profile, and it's red wave takeover. A lot of things going on this weekend, but none more important than us getting an opportunity to see how we match up with what has been the class of the Mountain West and the WAC before that."
The Broncos star quarterback Joe Southwick has a full year under his belt and is coming off a career performance last week against Air Force. He poses a threat to the Bulldog's pass defense that has struggled early on, where the 'Dogs were ranked No. 4 in the nation in total pass defense last season, they are currently ranked No. 111 giving up 296 passing yards per game.
"I think Southwick is much more poised," DeRuyter said. "He's more comfortable, if you look at his last week he was 27 of 29, you set a school record for completion percentage. He's a guy, who, a year ago was trying to establish himself and didn't have that confidence, but he has that confidence now and he's played well so far this year."
Although the Broncos are not what they once were in the Kellen Moore era, they are still extremely well coached and always come to play. Boise promises to play with an extremely high intensity level and will fly to the ball for all four quarters.
"You notice on the film that they play with a lot of energy," DeRuyter said. "I think they're a very physical football team, not just with their lines but with their skill players too. I think they're very physical in their back end on defense and I think their receivers are also very physical. They present a bunch of challenges that you see on tape."
With the intensity of this rivalry, and the added pressure of the high expectations surrounding the team, along with the thoughts of what this win can do for the program, the 'Dogs run the risk of entering this game with too much excitement if there is such a thing.
"I think there is a possibility our guys could get too fired up, but it's our jobs as coaches to temper that," DeRuyter said. "I know last year since we lost to Boise it's kind of stuck in our guy's craw. With our history over the last ten years within the community there's a lot of feelings towards this game, but one thing I keep reminding our guys is that this team is zero and zero against Boise. Every year is a different year, there's no memory, and our players have to be that way."
Carr's No Stranger to Boise
Entering his final season, with all he has accomplished in his illustrious career, Derek Carr has yet to win a game against the Boise State Broncos. The feeling around town is that this is the year the 'Dogs could end the drought in their Heisman hopeful quarterback's last go around. The pressure of this game is immense, and yet Carr seems unfazed.
"I think the past two years I've thought about the pressure of Boise too much," Carr said. "I think I'm more mature now and just treating this as another game. Being older and going into my 30th start now I've learned how to prepare better mentally for games than I did last year, I used to get all caught up in that stuff, but now it doesn't matter because once you're out there it's just another game."
As Carr has said many times, this season and this game are about more than him, and while a lot of hype surrounds him, the 'Dogs, as a team, are poised for a Cinderella season. With all the predictions of another Mountain West title, this game would put the 'Dogs in the driver seat for home field advantage in the inaugural Mountain West championship game.
"There's no doubt that we would want the Mountain West championship game to be here," Carr said. "We know what we need to do to get that. What we need to do to be successful is just to worry about what we need to do, worry about our job, worry about what our coaches are telling us, and if we get both sides of the ball and special teams focused on that 100% then everything will take care of itself."
Carr seems to be unflappable and sitting comfortably while preparing for what some would say is the most important game of his career to date. Much of Carr's composure is likely to come from not only his experience, but his familiarity with Boise.
"Preparing for Boise is nice," Carr said. "Where against Rutgers you don't have any clue about what's going to happen, I mean you don't know what's going to happen Friday, but you have a better idea of what they're trying to do and what their plan is schematically. I have played against their players so I know how they move, what they like to do, who likes to talk trash, and stuff like that, where as with Rutgers we only knew what we saw on film."
Steven Morehart is a new staff writer for FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @StevenMorehart.
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