BULL­DOGS

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports -

di­na­tor Bert Watts said.

Fresno State slipped a bit last sea­son, rank­ing fifth in the Moun­tain West in rush­ing de­fense. But it still al­lowed only 3.7 yards per play and only eight rush­ing touch­downs, which were the fewest in the con­fer­ence and tied for sec­ond-fewest in the na­tion.

In 2017, the Bull­dogs were sec­ond in the con­fer­ence against the run.

“That group and their abil­ity to do a lot of things, that’s the cen­ter point of the run game,” Watts said. “That’s it, man. As we look at what our best 11 is, it’s not al­ways ex­actly how you have it schemat­i­cally Day One, so some­times you have to think of some cre­ative ways to get your best 11 guys out there.”

They will take that though the sum­mer and into fall camp, maybe deep into fall camp. But it all spins off the Bull­dogs’ tal­ent and depth at the tackle po­si­tions.

Iakopo made big strides to­ward the end of last sea­son and ended up lead­ing the group with 37 to­tal tack­les. McCoy, the Roo­sevelt High grad, is a Power Five con­fer­ence trans­fer from Washington. Atkins has started 14 games over the past two sea­sons, and in 2018 was tied with Haynes with 4.5 tack­les for loss in lead­ing the group.

“We’re pretty dy­namic with all of the fronts that we play,” de­fen­sive line coach Will Ple­mons said. “We can carry all of those big de­fen­sive tackle bod­ies, at least three of them at a time. But then if we play a four-man front we can ro­tate them and keep them fresh, and that’s a big deal to keep ath­letic guys fresh and keep pound­ing an of­fen­sive line through­out a game where you don’t wear out.

“You can play them and put the next mon­ster in there. We’re go­ing to go through this and then we’re go­ing to take a look at it, we’re go­ing to keep eval­u­at­ing. What’s best for us? What’s our best fit?”

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