Fresno State spring football: Micenheimer making himself into intriguing option at RB

Malique Micenheimer is getting reps this spring at running back.

Malique Micenheimer has moved around quite a bit in his Fresno State career, coming in as a linebacker and moving to fullback when he was a freshman, then last year starting out back on the defensive side of the football before moving again to offense midway through the season.

It is too early to tell whether he has found a more permanent home at running back this spring, but he is becoming an intriguing proposition in the competition to replace the record-setting Robbie Rouse.

Micenheimer, at 240 pounds, is nothing like Rouse physically and appears to be a much better fit as a short-yardage back or a fullback, when the Bulldogs put one on the field. But offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said he definitely has piqued his curiosity.

“Malique has done a nice job and having a big back in this offense can be a really good thing because of all the pass-protection stuff,” Schramm said. “Malique has got good feet and he’s a smart guy. We came into spring ball and talking with (running backs coach Joe Wade) I said, ‘Let’s give him, Malique, a chance and see what he can do, instead of just being a fullback all the time.’

“He would be a guy, and you hear it all the time, that a back gets stronger as a game goes on. Well, that’s really not the reality of the situation. Those big backs, those guys on defense get tired of tackling them. He’s still running as hard as he’s always running, but in the first quarter they’re hitting him and they’re tackling him and in the fourth quarter they’re ducking out of the way because they’re tired of trying to tackle him. A big back in this offense can be a really big weapon for us.”

The junior from Stockton will continue to get reps at running back, competing at the position with Josh Quezada, Marteze Waller (who is out with a quad injury), T.J. Thomas and Daryl Cash, and get a push to avoid being labeled strictly as a short-yard back or as a fullback.

Practice report

Waller, who injured his left quad in practice on Monday, is out for the remainder of the spring. He had a brace on the leg at practice. Cornerback Sean Alston, who came away from a collision with Micenheimer with a stinger, had his left arm in a sling. There is a chance that he can return later this spring, but Coach Tim DeRuyter said both are likely out the rest of the way.

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It wasn’t a great day for backup quarterbacks Myles Carr and Marcus McDade, both making some costly mistakes in the two team periods and again at the end of the practice when the Bulldogs were running their two-minute stuff for the first time this spring.

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Bulldogs’ spring practice report: learning a lesson the hard way …

Fresno State ran some live periods at the end of practice on Monday, their first hitting this spring. They flew around pretty good. But the physical nature of practice started well before they went live, and redshirt freshman safety Dalen Jones and the younger players watching learned a lesson there.

In team run, running back Marteze Waller came through the line running right at Jones. It didn’t appear that the safety was expecting big contact but he got it – Waller, who has been known to finish runs on the practice field, just plowed him.

Jones got Waller down, but he was flat on his back at the end of the play and he heard about it from defensive coordinator Nick Toth.

‘’You know, you have to make your decision when you get in those drills,’’ Toth said. ‘’You’re either going to be physical and deliver it and get yelled at for being too physical, or you’re going to catch it and get your face knocked off and I don’t want guys that are going to catch.

‘’I want to yell at them to pull it back and Dalen learned that from that drill. Dalen, he’s not afraid to hit, but he got in there and was a freshman. You better get in there and smack. You better get in there and go. But he learned a lesson, a lesson you probably have to learn as a freshman.’’

Jones recovered nicely the rest of the way. ‘’After I yelled at him early in practice, Dalen got better,’’ Toth said.

 

Practice report

There were a couple of injuries and the Bulldogs are lucky they weren’t more serious. Waller went down with a right leg injury. Coach Tim DeRuyter said it was a quad. Waller spent the rest of practice on the side with ice on it.

Cornerback Sean Alston was on the wrong end of one of the biggest hits in the live periods, trying to make a tackle on running back Malique Micenheimer.

He was down for a few minutes, but was able to get up and to the sidelines, albeit moving very slowly. He had a stinger.

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Micenheimer, who has played linebacker and fullback, is an absolute load with the ball in his hands, by the way …

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Quarterback Marcus McDade absorbed the other big hit in the live stuff, scrambling to the right sideline. DeRuyter had the quarterbacks live when they were outside the pocket, and Karl Mickelsen just drilled him, one of a number of physical plays the inside linebacker was involved in.

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During individuals, the wide outs and cornerbacks matched up in a sideline drill – the receivers catching a pass at the numbers, the corners needing to wrap up or get them out of bounds.

The corners routinely got killed in this drill a year ago, but were much better on Monday.

Still, no one had much an answer for Davante Adams. He got pretty much whatever he wanted, making a move to the inside or beating the defender to and up the sideline.

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Slot receiver Dillon Root (car accident) was in practice for the first time, participating in individuals. He is expected to be cleared for contact for the Wednesday practice.

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Here is some video from a ball security drill …

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There were no changes in the first, second or third offensive lines. James Le’au continued to run with the ones at left guard and seems to have separated himself a bit from Mike Saenz.

Le’au is not getting much of a push, but DeRuyter said he has come along.

‘’He has been making some strides,’’ he said. ‘’I think he’s separated himself a little from Saenz. He’s had an opportunity to work with that first group. He still has work to do, but I do see progress there.’’

One thing Le’au is doing better: competing play after play after play.

‘’Which is encouraging,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’To be frank, a year ago at that position we weren’t real consistent with our starter there, either. I think he’s starting to figure it out. I think, when he came in, I don’t know if he had the mentality, ‘I’ll wait my turn,’ and he was dinged up a little bit and he never really was in a rhythm. He’s had a chance to get healthy now and I think he understands the offense better. When you understand things fully you can play closer to your potential and he’s getting closer to that.’’

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When 7 on 7 was going at the other end of the field, the offensive and defensive linemen were matching up in pass rush drills, first two-man and then one-on-one.

The Bulldogs’ defensive line got the better of most, which is no surprise.

Tyeler Davison didn’t take a lot of reps, but on one he just blew right by center Lars Bramer. He also tried a spin move in a matchup against Saenz and midway through decided to just go right through him, which he did.

Todd Hunt also had a good rep working to the inside against Le’au.

Maurice Poyadue, the backup nose, had a good rep against Bo Bonnheim.

Andy Jennings also was a handful for JC transfer Patrick Kim, though Kim come back and get Jennings later in the period.

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When the live periods started, Brian Burrell got the first reps with the No. 1 offense. McDade then worked with the No. 2s and Myles Carr with the No. 3 offense.

All three backup quarterbacks ended up taking some reps with the No. 1 offense.

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The field goal and PATs have been a question, but the placements could be a factor in that. Davante Adams has been holding when Garrett Swanson is taking kicks, and Swanson has been holding when Blake Dunn is doing the kicking. But it is an area that needs some development.

Punter Andrew Shapiro did the holding a year ago and, as DeRuyter said, was nails at it. But someone will have to develop some consistency there. ‘’Garrett has all day long to work with Blake, so you hope that he ends up emerging to be the guy,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’As we get into fall camp we’ll figure who that guy is and we’ll go with it from there.’’

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Along with Mickelson, Kyrie Wilson had a very good practice. ‘’He’s starting to play with some confidence,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’He’s always had the physical tools, but for him, understanding the scheme at times slowed him down … or, trying to understand the scheme. I think now he’s feeling more comfortable and you can see him really burst and when he gets there he’s a physical load.’’

Toth on the inside linebackers: ‘’Karl has had five good days, five really good days. I feel really good about him right now. Him and Kyrie, both, and (Jeremiah) Toma, have all played really well. The offense is doing some stuff schematically that bothers us, too, so for them to be fitting it the way they are, I’m happy.’’

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Rodney Mathews continued to get the reps with the No. 1 defense at strong safety, but DeRuyter and Toth both had a lot of positives on Charles Washington, as well.

The strong safety position should be interesting to watch throughout the spring.

‘’The hard thing is, they’re learning it for the first time. They’re not like most of these other guys, where it’s carry over. Charles was playing free (safety) and really didn’t even play that much. There’s plenty of work to do – we have 10 (practices) left and there’s plenty to do.’’

 

Bulldogs’ spring practice report: Davison to start work at d-end this week

Tyeler Davison spent last season at nose guard in the Fresno State Bulldogs’ 3-4 front, dealing with constant double teams and all of the nasty stuff that goes on snap to snap in the interior line. He did it very well – Davison was in on 43 tackles including 28 solo stops and 7.0 behind the line of scrimmage, recovered three fumbles and forced another, and was a first-team all-conference selection.

But this week the 315-pound junior will get a chance to see what life is like outside that compressed, cramped, crunching space in the middle of the defensive line, getting his reps at end for a few days in a move that will boost the Bulldogs’ depth up front.

Understandably, he is looking forward to it. ‘’I definitely want to experience that, because I haven’t got to lately at the nose spot,’’ he said. ‘’I’m kind of excited about that, so we’ll see how it goes.’’

But no more than Coach Tim DeRuyter and the Bulldogs’ defensive staff, who every week last season managed to find ways to scuttle opposing offenses despite a lack of depth up front.

With no ready backup to Davison at the nose a year ago, ends Andy Jennings and Nikko Motta got trained inside. Now it is Davision’s turn to work outside, and with junior college nose guard Ioane Sagapolu from Fresno City College arriving in the fall and the emergence this spring of redshirt freshman Maurice Poyadue at the nose, a spot that was a huge concern a year ago appears much healthier.

The Bulldogs also signed defensive end Claudell Louis from College of the Sequoias, who is expected to have a significant impact in the fall, as well as high school players Jaylen Ruiz (Memorial High), Ryan Steele (Kingsburg) and Nathan Madsen (Eureka).

But with Davision, Jennings and Motta able to play nose and end, it provides a great deal of flexibility.

‘’It makes it where you feel really good about our defensive end position,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’When you can have 300-pound defensive ends like Tyeler is, and you’ve got Andy at 285 or so, you feel pretty good. Nikko Motta was productive for us last year. I think Maurice Poyadue is starting to emerge, so it gives you a lot of depth and the key thing in college football now is not having just one deep. You have to be able to rotate guys to keep guys fresh and you can’t do that if you don’t have trust and we’re starting to develop that depth now, which hopefully will sustain us into the fall.’’

The Bulldogs are going to do work some situational and live periods in practice on Monday, so Davison is not likely to get any reps at end until the middle of the week – Fresno State also is practicing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. But he brings a unique skill set to the position. ‘’What Tyeler possesses that not many people have is he’s 315 pounds, but he moves like a 275-pounder,’’ defensive line coach Pete Germano said. ‘’Tyeler has got great hips, great flexibility and he can run. Tyeler moves like a 275 guy, that’s what makes him special and he can be an end because he can move.’’

And the move could be a boon to a defense that improved greatly in the first season under DeRuyter and coordinator Nick Toth, jumping to 22nd in the bowl subdivision in total defense from 100th.

‘’At end, there’s a little bit more that you have to know,’’ Davison said. ‘’But a lot of the techniques that we use at nose translate over to the end spot, too. I don’t think it will be too tough. I practiced a little bit at end last year, too, so I know what’s going on and I’ve been paying attention to all the end stuff all year.

”I don’t feel like it will be too tough of a transition, and I think I can bring some pop there to the end of the line. That will be nice.’’

 

Practice report

They started the morning practice with a Bulldog Drill, squaring off by position groups – o-line vs. d-line, backs vs. linebackers, and receivers vs. defensive backs before moving to the middle of the field where the coaches had a few players to go at it. The defensive players won all of those match ups in the middle, the best of them redshirt freshman linebacker Brandon Hughes getting running back Marteze Waller and nose guard Maurice Poyadue taking down Travis Harvey. …

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That start didn’t carry through the end of practice. They weren’t very sharp toward the end …

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Coach Tim DeRuyter on the practice: ‘’We got better, but we still have a long, long way to go. But it’s good to see guys who consistently compete. I think Isaiah Burse is doing a really good job. I like what he’s getting done. I think Sean Alston is getting some things done. It’s fun to watch him. And some guys are emerging that hadn’t before. I think Maurice Poyadue is doing some things. I think Daryl Cash is doing some things and flashing. Overall, it’s kind of typical spring where there is going to be some highs and lows, but it’s fun to see guys compete.’’

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DeRuyter said that the Bulldogs would run some situational and live periods on Monday, and scrimmage the following Monday. …

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There was quite a bit of mixing and matching with the inside and outside linebackers in the two team periods. Redshirt freshman Brock Carmen, a walk-on from Clovis North, was getting some reps with the No. 2 defense at an inside linebacker spot. He had come in last year as a safety.

‘’Inside, Jeremiah Toma is probably ahead of the other guys, but he’s a guy that needs to improve and we’ve got Kyrie (Wilson) and Karl (Mickelsen) that are flashing at times, but have to be more consistent in there,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’There’s a constant rotation in there.’’

On the unfamiliar numbers – Carmen is wearing No. 49 and Greg Spivak, from Kingsburg and Santa Barbara City College, another walk-on who got some reps, is in No. 50.

‘’Again, it’s a time for guys to earn a position, so we’re going to put guys in that maybe haven’t had a shot. Brock Carmen is in there, Greg Spivak … those guys haven’t been in a whole lot of reps, but they’re going to get their opportunity,’’ DeRuyter said. ‘’Again, that’s what spring is all about.’’

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The receivers and defensive backs matched up one-on-one and for a second day in a row the DBs were the ones doing push ups at the end of the period.

Some had better days than on Friday, but there were just some crazy catches made by receivers.

L.J. Jones had Davante Adams wrapped up pretty good on one rep, but with a back shoulder throw Adams just stuck a hand up and the ball somehow stuck there in his paw.

Burse also made a nice play on an underthrown ball, leaping up and reaching back over cornerback Jonathan Norton to make the catch.

Defensively, Alston made a great recovery off an inside move by Aaron Peck and closed quickly enough to make a play and separate ball from receiver.

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Here is some video of a run drill …

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During the 7 on 7 periods, the offensive and defensive linemen matched up in a pass pro-pass rush drill. The depth on the offensive line still is a work in progress …

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Wide out Victor Dean is participating in individual drills and 7 on 7, but no team at this point, coming back from the broken leg he suffered a year ago.

During team, he signals plays into the quarterback on the field along with the quarterbacks that are not on it, another sign just how far he has come in the past year.

DeRuyter said a year ago, they wouldn’t have even asked him to try it.

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Greg Watson on the full-time switch to a slot receiver from quarterback: ‘’I love it. It’s a chance for me to play more with Derek returning and everything. I have a lot to work on because it’s a new position for me still. I only played it a little bit last year. But I love it. I’ve got other receivers around me that are helping me – Isaiah Burse and Stew (Taylor Stewart) and I’ve got Coach (Phil) Earley helping me and Coach (Dave) Schramm, he stays on me because he’s the offensive coordinator.’’

If last year is any indication, Schramm can come up with a few inventive ways to make use of Watson and his skill set. But right now, the focus is more simple.

‘’I’m just trying to get a spot,’’ Watson said. ‘’I don’t know what the depth chart is, nothing like that. I’m just making my reps count. I don’t know where I am right now, I’m just trying to hit the field this season.’’

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Schramm is throwing out the first pitch at the Bulldogs’ baseball game on Saturday …

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There were some players looking to get some extra work at the end of practice including Adams and tight end Marcel Jensen, who missed a day of practice this week.

They were shooed off the field – the lacrosse team had a scheduled practice.

Bulldogs’ spring practice report: running backs are spinning a bit

Robbie Rouse was at practice, which put a bit of a spotlight on the running backs.

Fresno State has Marteze Waller back and Josh Quezada, the transfer from Brigham Young, now in the mix. T.J. Thomas has done some good things. Daryl Cash and Malique Micenheimer also are getting some looks. But it’s likely to be a while before there is any clarity at the position in replacing Rouse, the Bulldogs’ all-time leading rusher, because they’re all swimming a bit with a lot of new stuff they are being asked to do.

Waller played last year, but has a lot more to do this spring than he did a year ago. Quezada and Thomas were on the scout team, so there is a lot of new information to digest in lining up in the backfield or at different spots wide when in empty sets.

‘’They’re doing a lot of things, so right now we’re just trying to get that implemented so they’re comfortable with the procedure and how it pertains to them,’’ running backs coach Joe Wade said.

‘’We’re installing all this stuff so it’s like, ‘Hey, you’re over there …’ If you’re not a veteran, you haven’t done it all that much. Marteze did some so he has somewhat of a base, but it was only in one area and now he’s in multiple areas, so you just keep asking him to learn more and more.

‘’People don’t really realize how many things they have to do. But this is good for them. Sometimes when you make a mistake, it’s good, because if you’re a conscientious person, you’re thinking, OK, I’m going to take from that experience and learn from it. A lot of these things are things they need to go through and learn from.’’

They also have done any pass protection drills yet, which is another area that Rouse, even at 5-foot-7, really excelled and could be a separator at the position.

‘’I think we’ll be fine there,’’ Wade said. ‘’We should be pretty stout, because we’ve got some nice-sized guys. But we definitely have to work on technique and all those things.’’

 

Practice report

First day in full pads, though there was nothing live …

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Tight end Marcel Jensen was back in practice … Wide out Dillon Root is still out, following the traffic accident he was involved in. There is a chance he could do some individual work on Saturday. SAM linebacker Jamaal Rose, coming back from knee surgery, was on the field for some individual stuff. …

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Wide out A.J. Johnson is now suspended indefinitely. There is a chance he could return at some point.

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Kicker Quentin Breshears also is not with the team. He decided to be a full-time student, leaving the field goal and PATs to Blake Dunn and Garrett Swanson for now. Dunn has an early class and doesn’t get much time to warm up after he gets to practice, but hit his first two kicks very well. There was a third, however. Both Dunn and Swanson had their third kicks blocked in that special teams period. The Bulldogs have a scholarship kicker coming in the summer – Colin McGuire from Austin, Texas. …

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The search for a punt returner will pick up next week, but for now the staff has a lot of players catching kicks – Isaiah Burse, Josh Harper, Davante Adams, Sean Alston, Jonathan Norton, Taylor Stewart, Greg Watson and Davon Dunn all got work off the Juggs gun. When they went to special teams and a live kick, Burse, Harper and Adams fielded the punts. Burse, who handles kickoff return, would be the favorite in the punt return competition right now.

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The wide outs and corners and safeties did some one-on-one work, with Derek Carr and Marcus McDade chucking the football while Myles Carr and Brian Burrell worked team run on the other side of the field. There were some interesting results …

Burse won all of his matchups – some by big margins. His first rep he made an inside move on safety Charles Washington and beat him deep badly. On his second he beat Washington again, shaking him with an inside-out move. Burse also got safety Derron Smith pretty good later in the period.

Washington did have some issues, not only with Burse. On his last rep Stewart was going to get by him deep so he stuck out an arm and grabbed him– better a penalty than a TD, though.

Alston made a nice play to break up a pass to Adams, Dunn had a good rep against Anthony Riggins on a deep ball, Norton made a nice play on the ball against Victor Dean and a better play against Harper.

The DBs were the ones doing the pushups at the end of the period. …

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Dean, for someone who broke his femur midway through the season, is moving incredibly well.

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The 7 on 7 and team periods were a bit sloppy on offense …

Derek Carr had his no-turnover spring ruined … well, not really. But in the second of the 7 on 7 periods he tried to make a tough throw to Jensen over the middle that was broken up. The ball popped into the air and was caught by cornerbacks coach Jordan Peterson, who was watching the DBs from behind the play. Peterson showed some good moves returning it before he was tracked down by receivers coach Ron Antoine. … Guess we won’t count that one against Carr …

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Linebacker Jeremiah Toma made a nice play in the 7 on 7, stripping the ball from Jensen after a catch.

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Not a lot of NTCs (nice throw and catch) in either period, but there were a quite a few METs (missed easy throws). All three backup quarterbacks were a bit erratic. Myles Carr was only 1 of 4 in his second set of reps in the 7 on 7 and threw a poor pass to Riggins that was picked by Alston. Burrell did have a nice deep ball to Riggins, but the receiver dropped the pass …

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In team, working third-down plays, Burrell had a pass tipped at the line and picked by Ellis. The accuracy hasn’t really been there yet with Burrell, which is understandable given he is three days into a new offense and working with new receivers. He does lose some zip on the ball on his middle to deep throws, though.

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D-line coach Pete Germano on backup nose guard Maurice Poyadue: ‘’One of the things is he’s done is he’s lost weight. He came in too heavy in fall camp and he couldn’t move his body. He’s done a great job with his diet, he’s really committed to that. He’s down to 285 (pounds) now and he’s having a really good spring so far, and when I say so far, it’s only three practices and one practice with pads. But he’s moving a lot better and he’s grown up a little bit. Like a lot of kids, he’s grown up and realizes what’s out in front of him and he’s lucky to be on scholarship and he’s fortunate enough to play the game of football and he’s going to maximize his time. So, right now, he’s coming out of the gate as one of the pleasant surprises, and that’s great.’’

 

Bulldogs’ spring practice report: corrections on the fly are a good sign for improving defense

Fresno State had a pretty good season a year ago, defensively. The scheme got put in, absorbed. The Bulldogs played it well enough to make a huge jump in turnovers gained, as well as total and scoring defense. And all of that has shown through in their first two practices of the spring, particularly in a secondary that is without strong safety Phillip Thomas, but does return three starters.

The Bulldogs are making plays, and the difference from this time a year ago with the scheme and playing techniques is rather large.

‘’It’s funny, a year ago we were worried so little about scheme and just trying to establish a whole bunch of other stuff,’’ defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. ‘’I feel real good. Our kids are showing up and they’re playing pretty hard right now – the intensity is real good, they’re running to the ball.

‘’So we’re getting to worry about more technique and scheme stuff and the DBs, they’re the ones we’re seeing a whole bunch of results with that. Three of the four are back and they’re light years ahead.

‘’They’re all self-correcting, which is a sign of the scheme sinking in. I saw (linebacker) Kyrie Wilson today self-correct. As he was making a mistake, he felt it, and that’s because he had all those reps from before. I feel good about that stuff. Everything looks good, but we don’t have pads on. We’ll find out more on Friday, but I’m happy with where we are.’’

 

Practice report

Defensive lineman Andy Jennings was back in practice – he missed the first spring practice due to a death in his family. Wideout Dillon Root was at practice, but not in practice – he was involved in an auto accident on Sunday and is moving a bit stiffly. Tight end Marcel Jensen was excused from practice, so the Bulldogs had to move third-string tackle Andrew Gustafson to tight end for a day. …

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Coach Tim DeRuyter on the practice: ‘’It was much cleaner than it was on Monday, which is to be expected. I thought our intensity, we had a good bounce in our step. Things were good today. We took care of the ball much better on offense. We put two fumbles on the ground – we can’t do that. The defense did a good job of stripping the ball. They were contact fumbles. But overall, I like what we’re getting done on both sides of the ball.’’

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The Bulldogs will put on the pads for the first time on Friday and will scrimmage for the first time next Monday, which is practice No. 9 of their 15. …

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A decision regarding the status of receiver A.J. Johnson is expected on Friday. Johnson, who missed last season for violating team and NCAA policy, is under suspension for a violation of team rules. …

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Backup long snapper Chad Preacher, who is graduating this spring, has decided not to return to the team, leaving the Bulldogs short at a key position behind starter Dylan Detwiler. Coach Tim DeRuyter said there are some in-house candidates to provide some depth there, including junior college transfer Josh Tremblay, who is running at the No. 2 left tackle. …

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The Bulldogs’ offense went through some individual drills that hinted at some more interesting stuff from coordinator Dave Schramm in the fall …

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The backup quarterbacks were all sharper than they were on Monday, in the first of the Bulldogs’ spring practices. There was only one interception thrown – that on an errant throw by Marcus McDade.

On that pass, McDade was a little high and a little late on a throw to Anthony Riggins, the play broken up and the football popping into the air, where it was picked by safety Dalen Jones. …

JOHN WALKER / THE FRESNO BEE
Among the top goals for Fresno State in 2013 is keeping Derek Carr upright and giving him the time to find his receivers. The Bulldogs ranked 78th in the nation last year, allowing an average of 2.23 sacks per game.

Derek Carr threw in the two 7 on 7 periods, but again sat out both team periods. The line play should be improved with some competition in the position group and the receiving corps should be healthier, meaning they won’t be shuffling players between positions as much. But it wouldn’t be like Carr to sit back and expect that to cure the ‘Dogs problems with sacks and interceptions a year ago.

‘’For me, it’s continuing to grow however I can grow,’’ he said. ‘’If there’s something I see, then I’ll work on that. Right now, I’m working on my eyes, making sure my eyes are right 100 percent of the time, make sure I make the decision right 100 percent of the time here at practice.

‘’My whole goal throughout spring ball is to not turn the ball over once. Keeping that as a goal, keeping my eyes right, that will help me get better and that will help the offense.’’ …

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That no-turnover streak came close to ending after one practice. In 7 on 7, Carr made a late throw to Isaiah Burse and safety Rodney Mathews came over and was able to make a play on the ball, batting it away. Aside from that throw, he was spot-on, completing the other four he had in the period.

For what it’s worth, scribbled in the notebook were three ‘’NTC’s’’ … nice throw and catch.

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Of the backup quarterbacks, McDade had 10 reps between the two 7 on 7 periods and completed six and three of them were to backs. Myles Carr hit seven of his 10 reps including a perfectly placed pass to Burse running up a hash and bracketed by defenders. Brian Burrell hit six of his eight reps …

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In team, running back Marteze Waller was stripped of the ball on the very first play of the period and, like the quarterbacks on Monday, lost reps for the turnover.

The best pass-catch in the team periods was Myles Carr and Anthony Riggins up the right sideline. Carr threw a bit late and the ball hung up in the air, but Riggins went over cornerback Shannon Edwards to haul in the pass.

Riggins had trouble catching the ball last season, getting his eyes, hands and the football to intersect at the same time. But he did a lot of work after practices last year, and over the winter, and is catching it much cleaner than he had been.

‘’It’s coming along,’’ Riggins said. ‘’I’ve been working on it. I started OK, but started struggling later in the season. I just have to keep working on it to get it perfect.

‘’I’m a lot more confident and comfortable playing the game at this speed. I just have to get my eyes on the ball – they told me to take a picture of it when I’m catching the ball and that’s what I’m working on. I have to make that second nature. A lot of times, I was trying to catch the ball and I wasn’t even looking at it. I have to look at it every single time all the way in.’’

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Riggins did some work after practice again, catching balls fired out of the Juggs gun. Aaron Peck also took some extra work after practice, something he did not do a lot of last season. …

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Wide

ERIC PAUL ZAMORA / THE FRESNO BEE
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter chats with wide receiver Victor Dean during a November 2012 game. Dean is working to return from a broken leg suffered last season.

out Victor Dean, coming back from the broken leg, did not participate in team, but he stayed after practice as well, running some routes and catching passes from receivers coach Ron Antoine.

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Redshirt freshman Travis Harvey, who did his work at guard on Monday, got some reps at center. He had one bad snap in team, when Burrell was in the shotgun. He stayed after to work on that – snapping the ball to quarterback turned slot receiver Greg Watson. …

 

 

Fresno State senior Nat Harrison makes an impression on first day of spring practices

On the first day of spring practices at Fresno State, senior Nat Harrison made a quick impression playing at the SAM linebacker spot the Bulldogs are looking fill.

Jamaal Rose, perhaps the frontrunner for the position, did mostly conditioning work on the side as he continues his comeback from a knee injury in the ‘Dogs victory over Colorado. But Harrison, noticeably bigger in his upper body, ran with the No. 1 defense and made some very nice plays, including an interception in 7 on 7 on a pass thrown by redshirt freshman Myles Carr.

Carr was trying to fit the ball inside to Josh Harper, but the Edison High grad beat him to the ball and made a nice catch snaring it out of the air.

The physical improvement – and work in practice – didn’t go unnoticed.

‘’He’s really done some good things in the offseason and it was really good to see him move around out there today,’’ Coach Tim DeRuyter said. ‘’He’s working with the one-huddle and our challenge to him is to see if he can stay in that one-huddle, because he has the raw material, he has the physical ability to do it, it’s just a matter of being consistent and hopefully he’ll get there being that this is his last year.

‘’He looks good, and with that (added) weight, he’s still moving around pretty well. If he can continue to do that and learn our defense to where he’s playing fast I think we’ll have something with he and (Donavon Lewis) being our edge guys.’’

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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VIDEO: Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter addresses Bulldogs’ 2013 recruiting class

Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter fielded more questions about the the Bulldogs’ 2013 recruiting class, their efforts in the valley and addition of four skilled wide outs to add to an already potent offense triggered by quarterback Derek Carr.

VIDEO: Fresno State Coach Tim DeRuyter introduces 2013 recruiting class

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