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?”