COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- All Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett needs to know about Fresno State is its motto, coined by coach Pat Hill. "I expect them to come and play hard because their motto is 'Anybody, Anytime, Anywhere," Bennett said.
The Bulldogs (1-0) visit Kyle Field on Saturday, a steep upgrade in competition for the No. 23 Aggies (1-0) after they eased past Montana State 38-7 in their opener.
A&M has won 10 of 11 nonconference home games under Franchione, now in his fifth season. But the Bulldogs have made a name for themselves challenging perennial powerhouses on their home fields. They lost at LSU (38-6) and Boise State (45-21) last season, but battled top-ranked Southern California to the wire at the Coliseum in 2005, losing 50-42. "These are tough trips, but we look forward to that," said Hill, in his 12th season. "This is a building block. If we want to be one of those special kind of teams and get our name back out there among the national names and media, we've got to go to Texas A&M and win."
The Bulldogs are 10-19 against teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences since Hill became the coach. In 2004, Fresno State won at Washington (35-16) and at Kansas State (45-21). "I remember watching the Kansas State film a couple years ago before we played K-State, and Fresno beat them and there weren't any frills in that game," A&M coach Dennis Franchione said. "It was power and a good rhythm throwing game and good solid defense and a solid kicking game. That's the way they win football games. This will be a hard game."
The Bulldogs' defense smothered Sacramento State in a 24-3 victory last week, allowing 100 yards, just 41 rushing. That should scare the Aggies after their offensive line looked shaky in the opener, despite bringing back four starters from last season. Stephen McGee went 10-for-20 for 112 yards, but he was often under pressure. The Aggies were also beaten in a statistic they usually dominate, losing time of possession by nearly 12 minutes. A&M led the nation in possession time last season.
The Aggies returned most of the starters from the nation's 18th-best offense (398 yards per game), but they didn't display much firepower in the opener. Running back Mike Goodson said Texas A&M was careful not to show too much of that potential too early. "We've got more stuff," Goodson said. "We just didn't want to pull it all out."
First, Texas A&M has to nail down the basics. The Aggies didn't commit any turnovers, but they went without a first down on five possessions. Receivers dropped five passes. "That's just a bad formula," Franchione said. "Gosh, it's great we scored 38 points. We snapped the ball 58 times and scored 38 points. It is pretty hard to be disappointed in that, but I would have liked to have seen those other five drives have a little bit more consistency to them. Even if we don't get any points out of them, we snap the ball another 12, 15 times in the game."
The Aggies' defense is still adjusting to the 4-2-5 alignment implemented by coordinator Gary Darnell before last season. They kept things simple Saturday, but Montana State receivers repeatedly outmuscled Texas A&M defensive backs for catches.
The Bobcats finished with 304 passing yards. The Bulldogs gained 475 yards in their opener but lost three fumbles and failed to convert touchdowns on two trips inside the 20-yard line. "If we just take care of the football and not make a couple of silly penalties, the only difference in that game would've been the score," Hill said. "We wiped 21 points off the board and gave them three by our mistakes. That's the thing we've got to learn from. In a tough game at College Station, we make three turnovers, we're not going to have success."