March 10, 2014
By: Andrew Rich & Matt Burkholder
FRESNO, Calif.-- Fresno State opened spring football practice on Monday morning, the first of 14 practices leading up to the Real California Milk Spring Showcase on April 5. The Bulldogs took to the field with questions in different areas on opening day, as most any other new team does after losing a decorated class of seniors and key position players.
The firepower from last season's 11-2 team that won a second-straight Mountain West Conference championship will be a challenge to replicate, but confidence is still high despite the turnover on the roster. There is plenty of talent and enough experienced players that have seen the type of hard work it takes to bring home a title.
"There is no reason we can't compete for another championship," said head coach Tim DeRuyter. "These guys know the expectations coming in.
"I thought our guys intensity was good today, we are not as crisp as we were last fall, but that is to be expected with new quarterbacks and receivers. We just have to continue to improve each day."
The new quarterbacks are the big story this spring. With two-time Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year Derek Carr gone, the Bulldogs find themselves with a three-way competition at the quarterback spot. Junior Brian Burrell, sophomore Myles Carr and redshirt freshman Zack Greenlee all enter with a chance to take the reins heading into the 2014 season.
"I think all three did some good things at times, but no one did anything to separate themselves from anyone and we don't expect that to happen until after the first scrimmage," DeRuyter said. "All three are going to get reps and all three flashed good things, but also showed some kinks, so we have to continue to get better there."
Even with all of the familiar faces gone, the Bulldogs still return plenty of leadership. On the opening day, it was evident there was plenty of leadership from returning defensive players. With both safeties back in Derron Smith and Charles Washington, leadership in the defensive backfield shouldn't be an issue. There are also returners on the interior of the defense that found a way to be vocal on day one.
"I think we have some great leaders on both sides of the ball," said DeRuyter. "Especially defensively, Derron (Smith) was a captain last year and Charles Washington is stepping up as well along with Karl (Mickelson), they are all doing a great job."
A new face has joined the Bulldog coaching staff. Marcus Woodson was hired as the secondary coach last week and has already made a great impression on the staff and players. His enthusiasm was evident on day one.
"I really like his energy, he is just really sharp," DeRuyter said of his new assistant coach. "He develops great relationships with the players and shows a lot of energy and that is great to have out here."
The Bulldogs will be back on the field for their second practice on Wednesday morning.
"Catch the Wave"- The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes 1600 AM.
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