Utah will welcome Fresno State to Rice-Eccles Stadium for an afternoon showdown on Saturday. The Bulldogs are the defending Mountain West Conference champions but have lost some key contributors from last year's squad, including star quarterback Derek Carr.
What will Fresno State have in store for the Utes come Saturday?
In preparation for the contest, the Deseret News caught up with Robert Kuwada, who covers the Bulldogs for the Fresno Bee, to find out.
DN: Fresno State played a two-quarterback system last week against USC, should Utah expect to see that on Saturday?
A: I think it will probably go like it did last week. One of them will start and the starter, whoever it is, will get the first quarter and the other guy will get the second quarter and depending on how that goes, they will adjust from there.
They need one of them to step up and kind of win that job. They weren’t able to do it last week. (Fresno State coaches) will just grab him and run with it.
DN: Utah gave up 179 yards rushing to Idaho State; should the Utes be concerned with any Fresno State running back?
A: I would expect Marteze Waller to have the same type of game that he had against USC (Waller ran for 97 yards and two touchdowns in the game). He’s a solid back and runs the ball hard. (Fresno State) blocked a lot better than some people thought they might last week against USC, and I would expect (Waller) to get the majority of the carries. The guy he competed with, or split time with last year, (Joshua) Quezada is still a bit banged up, and I don’t know how much he’ll play. Waller proved that he can carry the bulk, so I would think they would give that to him.
The other in the equation is Dontel James. They might try and get him on track a little more. He’s bigger, faster than Waller, same type of runner, but different physically.
DN: Fresno State offensive coordinator Dave Schramm spent seven seasons with Utah. Do you think this game will be special for him?
A: You know I really don’t. He coached like three or four different positions (at Utah), he was a coordinator, then he split the coordinator, then he wasn’t the coordinator. I mean if he was the offensive coordinator the whole time, I think it might be a little bit different. Obviously he was there during some pretty good runs, but yeah, I don’t think it’s any different for him than anyone else going back there.
DN: How does Fresno State view Utah as a program?
A: No question they are viewed as a Pac-12 program. Utah’s department budget is about $20 million more, so Fresno recognizes there is a deficit there. They have been in the Pac-12 longer than Fresno has been in the Mountain West. Utah’s obviously a step up from where Fresno is right now.
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DN: Fresno is playing Utah in between games against USC and Nebraska, does a game against the Utes generate the same amount of hype among the fans as games against those schools?
A: Any other year I think it would (generate the hype), but this year when you have at USC, at Utah, against Nebraska, of those three if you put them in a pecking order, it’d be USC, Nebraska and then Utah. From a fans' standpoint and from a program standpoint, I don’t think Utah is at the same level as the other two, but do recognize it’s an opportunity for Fresno State to compete against a better program, better players and things like that.