After Colorado takes on Colorado State in their season opener and welcome Sacramento State to Boulder, they will travel to Fresno, California for their first road game of the year against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Starting off the season 3-0 is unfamiliar territory for Colorado football fans and it would be a huge step towards Colorado's optimistic goal of making a bowl this season.
Just like Colorado State, Fresno State is starting off this year with a new system and a new coach. Tim DeRuyter is taking over the helm at Fresno State after a disappointing 4-9 season from former head coach, Pat Hill. Prior to Fresno State, De Ruyter was an interim head coach at Texas A&M and he brings with him a defensive system that has been successful in the past, which will be key for Fresno State. Along with their new coach, Fresno State is heading to a new conference, the Mountain West.
Offense: The pro-style offense is no longer and the spread is in full force for the Fresno State Bulldogs. Dave Schramm, formerly of the Utah Utes, will install the new offense and it should only improve Derek Carr's numbers. Carr, the brother of former #1 overall pick David Carr, threw for over 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns last year and should post just as good or better numbers this year. When Carr isn't throwing he can hand off to Robbie Rouse, a shifty, fast running back who can also catch out of the backfield. With the spread comes more passing, yet the loss of their leading wide receiver, Jalen Saunders, who transferred to Oklahoma, will be an issue. Fresno State will need Rashad Evans, Isiah Burse, and Josh Harper to step up for Carr to continue his success from last year. The Bulldog's offensive line returns mostly intact, with their only issue being depth. Most importantly, Fresno State will only go as far as their ability to adjust to the spread takes them. The defense was horrible last year, thus the Fresno State offense must outscore opponents to win.
Defense: Fresno State didn't have a defense last year; they allowed 35.2 points per game and 435.9 yards, ranking 100th in total defense. Colorado will once again see the 3-4 against Fresno State, as they undergo the same change as Colorado State. The defense was so atrocious last year that it should be very easy to improve, and they do have some promising players in the linebacking corps in Travis Brown and Jeremiah Toma. The defensive line and secondary are weak, but look for this defense to get constant pressure on the quarterback considering when DeRuyter was at Texas A&M, he turned a defense at the bottom of the Big 12 into one that led the nation in sacks.
Outlook: Unlike Colorado's first road game last year, it's doubtful it'll be a blowout; however, for the youngest team in Division I, road games are always a challenge. Fresno State has the edge at multiple positions offensively and they'll be itching to get back on their home field after what should be a difficult battle with the Oregon Ducks up in Eugene. The Buffaloes need to take advantage of their non-conference schedule and a win against Fresno State would send the fans of Colorado into delirium with a record of 3-0 (provided they beat CSU and SSU, of course).