Know Wyoming’s foe: Fresno State Bulldogs
LARAMIE -- Marcus McMaryion, JorgeReyna. Jake Haener.
Those are a few of the quarterbacks who have lined up under center during Jeff Tedford's tenure in California's Central Valley.
Household names? Not necessarily.
Productive? You bet.
Ever heard of Kyle Boller or Aaron Rodgers? Both of those signal callers -- future first-round NFL draft picks -- played for Tedford at Cal. He plucked Rodgers out of Butte Community College in 2003. He inherited Boller.
Tedford has also coached Trent Dilfer, David Carr, Billy Volek, Akili Smith, Joey Harrington, Josh McCown, John Beck and Jake Browning, among many others.
No wonder Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl calls Tedford a "Quarterback whisperer."
Is Mikey Keene the next great QB on that already impressive list?
It certainly appears that way.
"I think he's an excellent quarterback," said Bohl, referring to the 5-foot-11, 198-pound sophomore. "He moves around, he's able to be resourceful."
Keene, who began his career at Central Florida, transferred to Fresno State in the offseason after Haener was selected by New Orleans in the fourth round of last spring's NFL Draft.
The transition has been seamless.
Keane has already thrown for 1,474 yards through five games. He's completing nearly 70% of his passes. The Arizona product has already tossed 14 touchdown passes. He's thrown it to the other team just four times.
For comparison's sake, his best season at UCF came back in 2021. That included 1,730 passing yards and 17 touchdown tosses.
He's nearly there now.
Most importantly, Keene is 5-0 as a starter at Fresno State, including road wins over Power-5 programs Purdue and Arizona State.
What makes him so special?
"His ability to extend the play," said Brian Hendricks, Wyoming's first-year defensive ends coach. "You know, he's got a live arm, but when he extends plays, you know, the longer that play goes, the probability of the defense having success goes way down. He does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and that's where a lot of their explosive plays have come through -- It's through the air. It's coming from his feet, being able to run around and get out of the pocket.
"He does a really good job of stressing the defense. Everyone wants to point the finger and say 'why aren't the DB's covering?' It always starts up front. He stresses those guys up front to keep him in leverage and keep him contained. So, he does a really good job of making defensive line coaches stress. So it'll be a really good opportunity for our guys to play against another good quarterback. He's pretty dang impressive."
Tedford used to just recruit QB's. Now, he's nagging them in the transfer portal, too.
* Head coach: Jeff Tedford (5th year, second stint at Fresno State) 41-18 overall record, 24-9 in MW play
* Offensive coordinator: Pat McCann (1st season); Defensive coordinator: Kevin Coyle (2nd season)
* Record in 2022: 10-4 overall, 7-1 in Mountain West Conference
* Offense in 2023: Average 36.4 ppg, 428.8 ypg (115 rush, 313.8 pass)
* Defense in 2023: Allow 19 ppg, 282 ypg (93.2 rush, 188.8 pass)
* Key Returners - Offense: Mikey Keene (QB - 136-197, 1,474 yds, 14 TD, 4 INT), Elijah Gilliam (RB - 74 rush, 312 yds, 4 TD), Malik Sherrod (RB - 36 rush, 253 yds, 2 TD), Erik Brooks (WR - 34 catch, 485 yds, 4 TD), Jaelen Gill (WR - 28 catch, 331 yds, 5 TD), Jalen Moss (WR - 24 catch, 245 yds, 3 TD)
* Key Returners - Defense: Lavelle Bailey (LB - 32 tackles, 2 PBU, INT, 2 FF), Carlton Johnson (DB - 12 tackles, 4 INT, 4 PBU), Dean Clark (DB - 24 tackles, 2 PBU), Morice Norris Jr. (S - 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 PBU, INT, FF), Devo Bridges (DL - 22 tackles, 0.5 sack), Malachi Langley (LB - 21 tackles), Cam Lockridge (DB - 12 tackles, INT, PBU)
* Overview: Fresno State was supposed to take a step back this season. That was Craig Bohl's hope, anyway. Those things are supposed to happen when you lose the conference's Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Jake Heaner. He threw for nearly 3,000 yards (could've been more if not for an ankle injury early in the season) and tossed 20 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions. That alone, you would think, might cause a bit of a rebuild. The Bulldogs' offense also lost its top running back Jordan Mims (1,370 yards, 18 touchdowns) and both wide receivers, Jalen Moreno-Cropper (84 catch, 1,093 yds, 5 TD) and Nikko Remigio (74 catch, 852 yds, 6 TD). On the other side of the ball, David Perales and his MW leading 11.5 sacks, graduated. Defensive back Evan Williams and his 66 tackles transferred to Oregon. Under Tedford's steady hand, this program continues to thrive. Fresno State, the defending league champion, is off to a 5-0 start. It's ranked No. 24 in the nation. It beat a pair of Power-5 teams -- Purdue and Arizona State -- on the road in non-conference play. A juggernaut? Let's not go that far. Yes, this group has been impressive so far, but as daunting as that early schedule looks on paper, the truth is something entirely different. The teams the 'Dogs have topped so far have a combined record of 6-19. Nevada is winless. Kent State and Arizona State have just one victory. Purdue is 1-3 in West Lafayette and Eastern Washington (2-3) -- an FCS program -- took Fresno State into overtime inside Valley Children's Stadium. Still, Mikey Keene, a UCF transfer, appears to be the real deal under center. Erik Brooks slid right in as the top target on the outside and already has nearly 500 yards receiving. If there's one position group that hasn't caught up to last year's production, it's in the running back room. Elijah Gilliam has just 312 yards on the ground through five games and the Bulldogs rank No. 109 in the FBS in rushing, averaging just 115 yards a night. The other offensive stats -- across the board -- are impressive. But is that a product of the schedule? We'll find out Saturday night under the lights in Laramie.
* Thoughts on Fresno State: "Fresno State has an excellent football team. Coach Tedford, once again, has attracted a great quarterback. They have a lot of weapons offensively. Mikey Keene, I think, he's an excellent quarterback. He moves around and he's able to be resourceful. They have a good group of receivers, particularly Jaelen Gill. I think he is an outstanding receiver. They'll also put him in the backfield at times and do some Wildcat things. He threw a ball, also. They're in the Top 25, which they deserve to be there. You know, we've got the makings, I think, of a heck of a football game. So, our players are excited and our coaches are excited. You know, you get in this time of year, these games are really pivotal. Every conference game is important, but this one has the makings of even some more. You know, it could really benefit you if you win. If you lose this one, it makes it a little bit tougher if you want to accomplish what we want to accomplish." -- Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl
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Here is all you need to know -- and the links -- for Saturday's tilt in Laramie:
WHO: No. 24 Fresno State (5-0, 1-0) at Wyoming��(4-1, 1-0)
WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 7 at 6:00 p.m. MST
WEATHER: High of 69, low 32, sunny, winds at 11 mph
WHERE: War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyo. (29,181 capacity)
RADIO: Cowboy Sports Network
TICKETS: Wyoming Ticket office
BOX SCORE: ESPN
ROSTERS: Wyoming / Fresno State
HISTORY: Fresno State leads series 9-5
BETTING ODDS: Fresno State - 6.5, O/U: 44.5
HEAD COACHES: Craig Bohl / Jeff Tedford
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
Gallery Credit: 7220Sports.com
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players