Fresno State spring practice report: Situations still throwing backup QBs

There was a play in red zone where Marcus McDade, one of three quarterbacks at Fresno State vying to backup Derek Carr, was able to sidestep a blitz and loft a ball just short of the back line of the end zone where his intended receiver, Taylor Stewart, was able to run under and catch it for a touchdown.

It was a nice play to avoid the rush, the right idea where to go with the football and a well executed difficult throw for a touchdown, McDade pretty much hitting the trifecta on that one.

But McDade, Myles Carr and, presumably, Brian Burrell, who did not practice on Monday because of a bruised right (throwing) shoulder, have yet to prove this spring they can manage game situations consistently. They will flash on one play, Coach Tim DeRuyter said, but then take a sack in the red zone or make the wrong decision where to go with the football on a third-and-short play.

McDade did that, too, when the Bulldogs were in a 3rd-down period. On a 3rd-and-4, he tried to hit slot receiver Greg Watson 25 yards down field when bracketed by defenders when Davante Adams was all by his lonesome, wide open at the first-down marker.

Part of that, offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said, is trying too hard to make a play. But there’s more to it, which is why the Bulldogs’ last padded practice of the spring (they will go helmets-only on Friday and play their spring game Saturday) was loaded with situational periods.

‘’It’s also not understanding the situation,’’ Schramm said. ‘’It comes with experience and it comes with playing, but at some point you have to demonstrate that you understand situational football. It’s a very high percentage throw. But that’s why we put them in those situations. Just coming out here and running plays doesn’t do anything for you. When you’re the quarterback in this offense, we’re not protecting both edges, we’re not handing the ball off 60 times a game. You’ve got to have the ability to show that you can handle those situations and not take sacks in two-minute or in the red zone.

‘’To continue to make the same mistakes day in and day out is not a good thing. There’s no better way to do it than to make them do it in practice and make them demonstrate that they can do it or they can’t, and we definitely have to be more consistent at quarterback in those areas.’’

Practice report

The Bulldogs went through a short practice in full pads and got in some live work running through situations – second-and-long to third-and-medium and third-and-short, red zone, backed up against the goal line.

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Freshmen filling void at receiver for Fresno State, and on Tuesday they did it well

They have played some snaps in games, both Aaron Peck and Justin Johnson. And, it’s a good thing they have because this week at Nevada, the Fresno State Bulldogs are going to need both of their freshman receivers to make some plays.

Victor Dean is out for the season with a broken leg, Josh Harper has been dealing with a groin injury and Anthony Riggins with an ankle.

Peck has not yet caught a pass and Johnson has one reception for five yards, that coming last week in the Bulldogs’ victory over Hawaii.

But, offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said, they are ready for what is in front of them – on Saturday that will be a Wolf Pack secondary with three senior starters and six upperclassmen in the two-deep at the cornerback and safety spots.

‘’We’re going to need them both,’’ Schramm said. ‘’Again, it’s college football. A year ago they were in high school playing high school football. But it’s a position where it’s not like an offensive lineman where they’re overmatched physically.

”They’re athletic enough and they’re smart enough, so they can play out there and we expect those guys to play well on Saturday.’’

Both freshmen got first and second team reps in practice on Tuesday, and, as they have in spots here and there this season, both made an impression. Peck had one play where he got away from a corner in coverage, but it was the way that he did it that caught the attention of quarterback Derek Carr.

‘’He ran a route today and totally just threw the corner – freshmen just don’t do things like that,’’ Carr said. ‘’He ran his route, threw the corner, came back, caught the ball and sprinted 20 yards down the field.

”Just things like that, if he can continue to work hard and not let the lazy bug hit him, so to speak, which guys tend to do with a lot of talent and he has a lot of it. If he can just continue to work hard he’s going to be a special player.

‘’But my comfort level, I’m comfortable with both of them. Victor went down and they’re stepping up in practice. They did very good (Tuesday). They know their routes, they’re very smart. I was proud of them. But just getting them to play at a high level, because you have to grow up fast as a freshman, especially when you’re playing, I think they’re doing a great job and they’re looking good.’’