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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Fresno State spring football practice report: Quarterbacks have a way to go

In a photo from the 2012 Spring Game, Fresno State’s Nat Harrison, right, penetrates the line and grabs running back Daryl Cash. In a scrimmage on Monday, March 11, 2013, Harrison delivered a big hit for the defense on Cash, who on a different play scored on a 60-yard run.

Looking for clarity, or even just an inkling where the competition to be the backup to quarterback Derek Carr might be headed, Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter got only clouds.

The offense on Monday scuffled through the first scrimmage of the spring, which was muddled by an injury to backup center Patrick Kim in an individual drill before the scrimmage went live, some poor line play and a lack of competitiveness that impacted the Bulldogs’ play throughout.

“I just thought mentality-wise, our defense came to play, especially up front, and our offense didn’t, by and large,” DeRuyter said. “That’s not everybody, but clearly there were too many guys on the offensive side that didn’t come out and compete.”

The quarterbacks were part and a party to that, the first two scoring drives amounting to single plays. On the first, backup running back Daryl Cash picked up a snap from center Travis Harvey that rolled into the backfield and sprinted 60 yards for a touchdown. On the second, quarterback Brian Burrell hit Davante Adams in the left flat and the wide out put a wicked stiff arm on the cornerback and raced 35 yards down the sideline and into the end zone.

Running back T.J. Thomas later scored on a short run to cap a seven-play drive led by quarterback Marcus McDade, but the Bulldogs have a few issues to sort out.

The offense gave up eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss, and McDade hit 6 of 11 throws for 37 yards and one interception, Myles Carr was 6 of 11 for 15 yards with an interception and Burrell was 3 of 11 for 71 yards, most of it coming on the touchdown catch and run by Adams.

“It was popcorn — one or two plays here and there, but there was nothing consistent done by any of the quarterbacks,” DeRuyter said. “It’s a concern.”

The loss of Kim didn’t help — he suffered a stinger and had to be removed from the field in an ambulance. Travis Harvey had to move up to the No. 2 line, until back-to-back snaps went awry, one low and one high, and he spent the rest of the scrimmage on the sidelines doing some up-downs. Guard Mike Saenz moved over to center with the No. 3 unit.

Kim update (8:30 p.m.): Kim was taken to a hospital for precautionary reasons after complaining of pain in his neck from the stinger. He was discharged after passing all of the tests. He’ll be evaluated by the team physician Tuesday and is not yet cleared to return to practice.

Notes

Offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said he would expect the quarterbacks to be a little farther along, after nine of 15 spring practices.

“I would,” he said, “especially with the guys that have been here for a year. I think when you’re not playing you have a tendency not to study as much as you should or not pay as close attention as you should because it’s not your job. But you never know when your number is called and you have to go.

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Bulldogs spring practice report: interceptions will hurt QBs more than usual

Marcus McDade stepped in to take his first rep in a team period during the Fresno State Bulldogs’ first spring practice on Monday, and threw a pick. His throw was high and behind tight end Marcus Jensen, the intended receiver, and linebacker Kyrie Wilson made a nice play on the ball, picked it off and took it back for a defensive score.

McDade was yanked.

Brian Burrell, the JC transfer from Bakersfield City College, dropped back to throw on his first rep, looking for Taylor Stewart on the sideline and that pass also was picked off. Safety Dalen Jones undercut the route on the sideline and made a great diving play on the ball to come up with the turnover.

That was it for Burrell – he, too, went to the back of the line.

The Bulldogs’ competition to be the backup to quarterback Derek Carr took an interesting turn there. The three candidates – McDade, Burrell and Myles Carr – all need to reps to make an impression and win the job and they are going to lose them for game-changing errors. They can’t count on taking five or six consecutive reps, then rotating.

‘’I like it here,’’ offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said. ‘’If you turn the ball over a lot and you’re the offensive coordinator, then you have to go find another job somewhere.”

That is one way to crank up the competition within that position group – and perhaps fix an issue from a year ago.

‘’We have to do a better job,” Schramm said. ”We turned the ball over 18 times and gave up five touchdowns on offense last year. We can’t allow that to happen.

‘’If you want to play, then don’t give the football to the other team. We’re a better football team if we punt than we are turning the ball over and offensively, we’d like to end every drive with some sort of kick. We don’t want to punt, but that’s a lot better than throwing an interception or fumbling.’’

The Bulldogs’ quarterbacks all got back into the rotation after the interceptions. But the message there was perfectly clear – those types of mistakes will hurt.

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Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter on plans for JC quarterback transfer Brian Burrell

Bakersfield quarterback Brian Burrell throws a pass while College of the Canyons’ Nathan Mitogo defends and Bakersfield’s Ricardo Figueroa lays on the ground. (SHELBY MACK/THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN)

Fresno State did not have a junior college quarterback high on its list of recruiting priorities early on. The Bulldogs had Derek Carr, who was still a junior. Greg Watson was the backup, followed by Marcus McDade and Myles Carr. It was not a pressing need – certainly not as pressing as the offensive and defensive lines, the linebacker and defensive backs positions.

But with Watson moving to receiver and questions about the progress McDade and Myles Carr made during the season, the Bulldogs went out and signed Brian Burrell, who last season led  Bakersfield City College to a CCCAA state championship with a victory over City College of San Francisco.

The 6-foot-4 Burrell is enrolled in school and will participate in spring practices, competing with McDade and Myles Carr to be the backup quarterback.

Here is Coach Tim DeRuyter on Burrell:

‘’Right now, with the younger guys that we have, nobody has established themselves as a No. 2 to where we would feel good about it. It was kind of an insurance policy. Obviously, with Derek coming back, we feel good about him. But we were thinking about maybe (taking a JC transfer) and then we saw the tape on Brian – he’s a heck of a quarterback. He’s going to come in and compete and it will be good competition for everybody.’’

Kuwada: What does he do well that translates to what you guys are running?

‘’I think he’s very athletic. He’s very accurate throwing the ball. He doesn’t run a ton, but when he does he can move the chains. I think his leadership and his accuracy are probably his high points. He took a team to the state championship game a year ago. All those things I think are key to a quarterback and that’s what he’s going to bring us.’’ Read more →