Ryan Mathews has been the great story of Fresno State's football season. He's leading the nation in rushing and has consistently broke off huge plays that keep Bulldog fans interested in an otherwise boring offense.
But how much longer can he carry the load? New Mexico State showed that teams will be willing to put eight or nine guys in the box to load up against the run. For most of Saturday's game this strategy was working really well. Going into the fourth quarter Mathews was held to 71 yards on 23 carries.
The main reason for this is Ryan Colburn. While he showed some flashes late, connecting with Chastin West for a long touchdown, he looked anxious and inaccurate for most of the game.
It looks like he hears footsteps and wants to take off and run instead of giving his receiver time to get open. At other times he makes horrible decisions like throwing the ball twice to New Mexico State defenders in the red zone (luckily only one was picked off).
If Fresno State is going to continue their winning streak they will have to be a bit more creative than Pat Hill has allowed. Resurgent Nevada and upstart Idaho could be major hurdles for the 'dogs if they don't bring something new to the field.
The last two games both Derek Carr and Ebahn Feathers have been given a little bit of playing time at the end of large wins. Carr has looked poised out there. He seems to be that special QB that fans are hoping to see.
The combination of Carr and Feathers just may be what Ryan Mathews needs to take some of the pressure off. Make defenses have to gameplan somewhat for the unknown. What will a package with Feathers, Mathews, and Robbie Rouse be capable of? I would love to see them run a pistol against Idaho, especially after seeing Nevada run 70 points against them.
Fresno is going to continue to run about eighty percent of the time. If that is the case then they need to make the defense guess that a couple of those runs may not be up the middle. And they need to see if Carr can come through when they are in a pressure passing situation like Colburn has not been able to.
The Bulldogs are a team of great potential. The future looks bright. Unfortunately that future will probably not have too much more of Ryan Mathews. We need to see just how far they will be go under Carr and Feathers. So why not see the what those two can accomplish while they still have time with one of Fresno's all-time greats?
Utah State comes to Fresno State next Saturday afternoon. After that, it's at Idaho and at Nevada. So if Fresno State is going to make any adjustments this is the week. Just once, I would like to see Pat Hill do something unpredictable. Instead of finish a season with disappointing losses and uninterested fans, it would be great to see the Bulldogs in exciting fashion.
Let's see what the future holds now. Let's see what Carr and Feathers are capable of. And let's send Ryan Mathews off with a celebration instead of a sigh.