The quarterback position between these two teams is tough to assess due to the uncertainty of who will be the starting quarterback for Fresno State. However it doesn't matter who starts for the Bulldogs, Jeff Rowe of Nevada will have the edge here. Many remember Rowe as the guy who single handedly ruined Fresno State's season last year by dissecting our defense with the spread formation that killed the Bulldogs. With respect to Fresno State the contrast in both styles of play at the quarterback position make the evaluation of the qb spot interesting to say the least. If Hill chooses Norton we have a mobile quarterback who will be able to evade trouble to make the throws needed to win the game. However, Brandstater is a pocket quarterback who has a cannon for an arm and can throw the deep ball better than most quarterbacks we have seen at Fresno State. Norton seems to have the better accuracy on the short passes which to me are the more important plays due to the fact they are done far more than the deep ball in Pat Hill's pro style offense.
If Brandstater is our starter he will have plenty of time to throw as our offensive line showed during the scrimmage. But because Brandstater has only thrown thirteen passes in college and Norton has thrown zero Fresno is left with two inexperienced qb's to lead them to victory. Rowe has poise and knows how to run his offense seeing that he is a senior at Nevada. Nevada will roll Rowe out to his left and right to create more time for him as he will look to hit receivers who run crosses over the middle of the field. The key to stopping Rowe will be to pressure him early and often. When he rolls out Fresno needs to send a corner or have a linebacker blitz him to force him to throw the ball early. If Rowe is put in uncomfortable positions he will make mistakes as his 2 to 1 td to int ratio tells us.
Whether Brandstater or Norton takes the reigns for Fresno State they will both have to avoid doing what Pinegar did so well: turning the ball over. We cannot afford to allow an offense like Nevada's extra chances with the ball. As explosive as Rowe can be, if his chances are limited on offense he will not be able to produce like he hopes to. In order to stop Rowe the defense must perform much like they did against Toledo last year. The defensive line needs to hit Rowe early and often even if it is just to remind him that they are there. If Fresno State can put pressure on Rowe constantly forcing him to run more than he would like to and the Bulldogs qb can refrain from making that unnecessary thrown then the Bulldogs will send Navada home with their first loss of the season.
QB Advantage - Nevada
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