EUGENE, Ore. (KSEE/KGPE) – The first road game for the Fresno State football team this season is against the Bulldogs’ first ranked opponent in three seasons: No. 11 Oregon.
The last time the Bulldogs played Oregon was in 2012, when Tim DeRuyter was Fresno State’s head coach. DeRuyter will be in the stadium on Saturday, as he is now Oregon’s defensive coordinator.
“Yeah, there are some personal feelings. My wife and I, my family, had a great time in Fresno,” he said earlier this week. “But this game’s not about me, it’s about these guys that are playing for us.”
One of the guys playing for Oregon is Kayvon Thibodeaux. He is a sophomore defensive end who is a preseason all-American, and who is projected by Sports Illustrated to be the first pick in the NFL Draft next year.
“He is as complete a defensive end as I have ever seen,” said Fresno State offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb. “I would imagine if I was one of the top five teams in the NFL I’d probably want that guy on my team.”
Thibodeaux has 12 sacks and 23 1/2 tackles for loss in just 21 career games at Oregon.
“He’s got a high motor. Really good player. He’s long, he’s strong, plays really hard,” said Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener, who was not sacked at all in the season opening win over UConn. “But it is what it is. You gotta go out there and fight and find a way to win.”
It will help if Jake Haener can throw for 300 yards again.
Haener threw for 331 yards in the Bulldogs’ win over the Huskies, his fourth consecutive game throwing for more than 300 yards.
“Very mature in the system, he knows where he wants to go with the ball,” said DeRuyter. “When things break down, he does a really nice job of extending the plays and then hurting people with his feet if you don’t contain him in the pocket. So he presents multiple challenges in the throw game, and then he also can extend things. So we gotta have a plan for that.”
And a plan to stop Ronnie Rivers, who is now Fresno State’s all-time leader in career touchdowns.
“Really impressive young man. Not surprising, he is a legacy of a Bulldog,” said DeRuyter of Rivers. “He runs with a lot of heart. He’s powerful for a guy who’s not real big. Got great feet, vision, can jump cut. One of the things they’re doing a really nice job with him, particularly this year, is getting him out in routes and finding ways to get him touches.”
“This is a big opportunity,” said Rivers. “And just being able to go out there and showcase what you can do against a good team is a great opportunity for everybody.
“So everybody’s excited.”