Cal Poly

Eastern Washington, Fresno State rely on pass; similarities stop there for Cal Poly football team

Cal Poly football defensive coordinator Josh Brown called Eastern Washington “the best offensive team we’ve played all year.”

That’s high praise coming into today’s 12:40 p.m. kickoff between the Mustangs and Eagles, but wait, what about a certain FBS team fixing to crash the BCS bowl picture?

Fresno State, 9-0 and ranked 16th in the AP poll, ranks fifth in the FBS in total offense, averaging 546.6 yards per game. After this week’s bye, the Bulldogs have games against New Mexico and San Jose State before a potential rematch with Boise State in the Mountain West Conference Championship game. 

The Bulldogs beat Cal Poly 41-25 in the second week of the season.  A 3-0 run to end the year could land Fresno State in the Fiesta Bowl. 

But Eastern Washington presents a more well-rounded defensive challenge, Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh said. 

“Fresno State, no offense, is somewhat one-dimensional,” Walsh said, saying the Bulldogs have more of a finesse running attack while the Eagles can utilize a power running game. 

The statistics show a lot of similarity.

Like Fresno State in the FBS, Eastern Washington is ranked fourth in the FCS in passing, averaging 350.4 yards to the Bulldogs’ 384. The Eagles are complementing that with 185.5 yards on the ground. Fresno State averages 162.6.

Eastern Washington has been more efficient in the passing game. Sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams leads the FCS in passing efficiency at 192.2. Fresno State senior Derek Carr, though he passes for about 40 more yards per game, has an efficiency rating of 152.3. 

Adams has also run for nearly 400 more yards this season. 

And while Fresno State runs a no-huddle four-receiver spread, Eastern Washington typically lines up in more power formations.

“Eastern Washington is more of a pro-style attack,” Walsh said. “They have a special quarterback, no question — so does Fresno —   but the balance they have at offense, and the escapability of their quarterback is an incredible advantage for them. 

“You can’t just say you’re going to play them throwing the football because they can run the football equally well.”