Three Things That Changed the Game: Fresno State

While there are often a large number of plays that decidedly impact a football game, there are almost always two to three things that really shape the game. You know. The big plays. The big stats. The battles within the game that are won or lost. Throughout football season, I will revisit three key happenings from the previous game and talk about the impact they had overall. While the chosen topics may not have ultimately decided the victor, they will always have had a profound impact on the game.

The three things I've chosen for the Fresno State game are:

1. The Rebel Receivers

2. The Rebels stayed turnover-free

3. Ralph Williams' sack of Derek Carr

1. The Rebel Receivers

It's funny to say that the Rebel receivers were the biggest gamechanging factor in a game that saw just eight completions. If you watched the game, you'll understand why I put them here. Completions to receivers went for 46, 40, 22, 13, 6, and 57 yards chornologically. The trio of Ja-Mes Logan (an underrated possession guy), Donte Moncrief (a speedy possession receiver), and Nick Brassell (the speedster) can really make a difference in games. Sure, this came against a Fresno State team with a seemingly porous defense, but it was great to see the receivers go up strong for the ball and come down with it. Nick Brassell also drew a pass interference call on what was certain to be a long touchdown. This group is special, and they're only going to get better with some quarterback stability.

2. The Rebels stayed turnover-free

The Rebel defense forced two turnovers, leading the team to a two possession victory over the Bulldogs, who forced no turnovers. I talked with Whiskey Wednesday moments after the game, and we agreed that Randall Mackey appeared to throwing passes with the intention of keeping the ball in Rebel hands. This resulted in a poor completion percentage (44%), but the ball was regularly thrown at the sideline where only Rebel receivers were in position to make the catch. While this strategy won't work against a team that threatens to score on us every time they touch the ball, it worked against Fresno State. By not turning the ball over, we kept ourselves in good field position (thanks to Tyler Campbell) and ensured that Fresno would generally have to drive a long field in order to score. In a game the Rebels couldn't give away, they didn't.

3. Ralph Williams' sack of David Carr

The Rebels were holding onto a 20-14 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the first half. The Bulldogs had just gotten the ball to the Ole Miss four yard line after a long pass to Jalen Saunders and quick two yard run. On second and goal from the four, Freshman LB Ralph Williams shot throgh the line and sacked Derek Carr for an eleven yard loss. The Bulldogs eventually settled for a 32 yard field goal.... which they missed. a 21-20 Fresno State lead at the end of the half would have forced the Rebs to play quite differently for the remainder of the game. Instead, they were able to continue battling with Fresno for momentum and ultimately put them away.

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