Fresno State spring practice report: Smith out, Dean back in doghouse

Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter talks with receiver Victor Dean during a game last season. (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/THE FRESNO BEE)

The Bulldogs went through their final football practice of the spring Friday, a short workout in helmets and shorts. With the spring game on Saturday, they were on the field for about 75 minutes.

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Wide out Victor Dean, who has had some maturity issues in his time at Fresno State, has done a little backsliding over the past week or so. He was held out of practice and afterward had to barrel-roll the length of the field, which can’t be a whole lot of fun.

‘’Victor has got some things he has to take care of,’’ coach Tim DeRuyter said. ‘’Right now he’s not being very accountable, so he has to earn his trust back. He’s slipping right now.’’

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Free safety Derron Smith also did not practice. He was out with a sprained right ankle, suffered playing pickup basketball on Thursday night. He had the foot and ankle in a protective boot.

Smith will not participate in the spring game.

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Center Patrick Kim, who suffered a stinger in a non-contact period last week, was back with the team but was limited to some light conditioning work.

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The backup quarterbacks had another spotty day throwing the football in 7 on 7 – they ran third down as well as red zone 7 on 7 periods.

Brian Burrell, who has been dealing with a bruised right (throwing) shoulder, did some light throwing in individuals, but did not take any reps in the 7 on 7.

DeRuyter said there is nothing wrong structurally in the shoulder, but the time missed obviously has set the JC transfer from Bakersfield back a bit in the competition to backup Derek Carr.

With the backups where they are, Incoming freshman Zack Greenlee will definitely get a look, but with any player making the jump from high school to Division I football they will have to wait and see how much he can digest and take on day to day.

‘’He’s a smart guy. He works at it,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’I think he’s got a lot of natural tools, but he also understands what it is to be a quarterback and be that leader and understand coverages and protections and get you in the right play. We’ll find out this summer. It’s one thing to sit in a room when it’s 72 degrees and there’s no wind blowing and getting on the board and doing it, it’s another when you’ve got guys running at you. We’ll figure that part out this summer and see if he’s ready.’’

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Some of the questions the Bulldogs had going into the spring in the offensive line remain unresolved, but there were some positives. At center, where they are trying to find a replacement for Richard Helepiko, Lars Bramer held in with the No. 1 line and, more importantly at this point, was able to hold weight throughout the spring. Mike Saenz, a guard last year, also seems to have found a position.

‘’He flashed more than he had been at guard,’’ offensive line coach Cameron Norcross said of Saenz. ‘’He’s always going to get help there and it might be a position that overall he’s better playing. Once we moved him out of guard, he did some nice things. He still has to do some things in the weight room – we all do – but he did a good job and got better.’’

Norcross on Bramer: ‘’I think Lars held his weight pretty good. He maybe dropped a couple of pounds. But he was in the 290s and I think he’s still there. He might be in the high 280s now. But he held it pretty well and the weight he’s going to gain in the summer, now that’s he’s done it and now that he’s there, the weight he’s going to gain in the summer is going to be good weight and that’s going to be harder to knock off. To me, guys that add a bunch of weight fast, that comes off fast, too. It’s not necessarily good muscle weight, but when he adds it slowly, that’ll hang on to him.’’

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Defensive coordinator Nick Toth wanted to get nose guard Tyeler Davison some work at end this spring, plans that were hurt a bit when backup nose guard Maurice Poyadue missed a couple of days with an ankle injury and with end Andy Jennings missing time on Friday because of a class conflict.

But they come out of the spring pleased with the progress Davison made playing outside.

‘’Tyeler got a bunch of end,’’ Toth said. ‘’We got a great evaluation of him there. There’s no doubt that he’s going to be able to play there. It gives us a different type of end, gives us a 310-pound guy playing over a tackle, which is good. That experiment worked out really well.’’

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The SAM linebacker spot remains open, but with Jamaal Rose not participating fully coming back from knee surgery, the Bulldogs were not expected to find all the answers there this spring.

‘’I liked what Brandon Hughes showed us at SAM linebacker,’’ Toth said. ‘’There’s still plenty for him to work on. He got better. The knocks on him are due to his age, things he really can’t control. He’s going to be a very good SAM linebacker. The weight room, experience on the field, finishing plays physically, tackling and finishing, are things that he needs as many reps as he can get.

‘’I felt good about the progress he made, but we still have got to get him better.’’

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Nat Harrison also had a solid spring, Toth said, getting reps at the SAM and Joker. Harrison had one play in the 7 on 7 where he showed how well his athleticism can play in this defense, chasing down wide out Davante Adams as he crossed the middle of the field. Adams obviously can run a bit.

‘’I feel good that we got better there,’’ Toth said. ‘’It’s good to know that Jamaal is going to be back and he’s got some time in there. We have another guy. But we’re still going to look to satisfy that position in a number of different ways. I don’t know that we’ve finalized anything there.’’