The Fresno State football roster was built for a spread offense.
It just wasnt running one.
So when first-year coach Tim DeRuyter arrived with blueprints for the spread, his players smiled.
That was something we wanted to do offensively with the weapons we thought we had, senior running back Robbie Rouse said. When he told us that, we were excited.
The Bulldogs (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West) will bring that spread attack to Bronco Stadium on Saturday for a showdown with No. 24 Boise State (4-1, 1-0).
The Bulldogs rank 14th in the nation in passing (315.5 yards per game), 19th in scoring (39.5) and 20th in yards (493.8).
The spread features three or four wide receivers, a running back and sometimes a tight end. It spreads out the defense to the benefit of junior quarterback Derek Carr, who distributes the ball quickly to a deep collection of receivers, and Rouse, a slippery runner.
Former coach Pat Hill, who ran a pro-style offense, recruited in recent years with the idea of incorporating the spread, Carr said.
Im not sure if they knew what they were getting, the new staff, when they came there, Boise State coach Chris Petersen said, but the style they implemented definitely complemented their talent level.
Carr is tied for second in the nation with 18 touchdown passes against just three interceptions. A national-best four receivers have caught at last three TD passes. And Rouse, a two-time 1,000-yard rusher, is on track for the best year of his career with 919 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.
Offensive coordinator Dave Schramm worked with a similar offense at Utah from 2005 to 2011, including one year as offensive coordinator and one year as co-coordinator.
DeRuyter wanted a no-huddle, spread system because of the difficulties he encountered trying to defend those teams.
Im really fortunate weve got some great teachers on our offensive staff, DeRuyter said. Sometimes when theres a change in philosophies theres a time period where kids are questioning whether to buy in or not. Weve been really fortunate here, we have some young men of high character that jumped in with two feet and I think thats probably as big of a reason as any as to why were doing some decent things on offense.
Boise State counters with a defense that has not allowed a touchdown pass to a quarterback this season and has surrendered 20 points to only one opponent New Mexico, with its triple-option offense.
Miami (Ohio) is the only previous opponent ranked in the top 50 in the nation in passing yards.
This is, by far, the best combination of quarterback and receivers, Petersen said. The Miami of Ohio guy was a good thrower, but he didnt have the surrounding talent that these guys have, so that changes things tremendously.
The ingredient that is most apparent in Carrs supporting cast: speed.
The Bulldogs have produced five offensive plays of 50 yards or more this year by five different players.
Freshman wide receiver Davante Adams has 40 catches and five touchdowns, junior Isaiah Burse has 30 catches and four TDs, sophomore Josh Harper has 24 catches and four TDs and senior Rashad Evans has returned from suspension with 14 catches and three TDs in two games.
Rouse is second on the team in receptions, with 33.
Their quarterback is making really good decisions right now, Boise State defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake said. Hes getting the ball out of his hands quickly. Their scheme is hard to deal with they have a really good running game and then they have a quick passing attack.
The Bulldogs hope the changes pay dividends against the Broncos.
Carr was 17-of-30 for 126 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in last years 57-7 loss to Boise State. The Bulldogs only points came from a fourth-quarter punt return.
Carr is eager for a second chance.
Im just excited for this game, he said. This one has been circled forever.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat