March 25, 2006
FRESNO, Calif. - The rainy weather and wet turf couldn't dampen the spirits of the hundreds of Fresno State fans nor the Bulldog football team during Saturday's scrimmage in Visalia.
Head coach Pat Hill put his troops through nearly 100 plays at Central Valley Christian High School. The scrimmage, the first of three scheduled for this spring, was held during a steady downpour of rain and played on a soggy field saturated from a storm passing through the Valley.
"This was a good scrimmage," said Hill, who was pleased with the teams' sharp execution of plays and low number of offensive turnovers and penalties. "This scrimmage was designed to work on our run game and the weather conditions helped that. We will have to play in some rain next year, so it was good for our guys. It was wasn't good for the passing game because the balls were wet and heavy and waterlogged, but we wanted to work on our running game today and we got in a lot of good work. We need to get all three quarterbacks a lot of repetitions in live situations so we can better evaluate them. These scrimmages are important for every player fighting for a starting spot."
The Bulldog offense committed just two turnovers in the wet conditions and there were only two penalty flags thrown in over 100 plays.
The scrimmage, which was dominated by the defense throughout the day, has become a fan favorite in Visalia. Nearly 3,000 fans attended the 2005 spring scrimmage.This marked the third straight year the Dogs have scrimmaged in Visalia.
Three Bulldogs vying to replace All-WAC quarterback Paul Pinegar all took an equal number of repetitions and will continue to do so throughout the spring. Sophomores Sean Norton and Tom Brandstater and freshman Ryan Colburn, who was playing on his high school field, each looked sharp at various times during the scrimmage.
Running back Dwayne Wright looked 100 percent, getting the majority of the carries. Wright ran hard throughout the scrimmage. While most of the runs were designed between the tackles, Wright did show his familiar burst to the outside on several occasions, including once a long screen pass. Rich Owens, Shannon Dorsey and Andrew Jones also ran with the football.
Wright, Fresno State's most experience running back, was injured against Kansas State in second game of the 2004 season and missed all of the 2005 with injury rehabilitation. In 2003, Wright earned second-team All-WAC honors while rushing for more than 1,000 yards.
Several Bulldog defenders played well in the scrimmage, led by senior linebacker Dwayne Andrews, senior safeties Josh Sherley and Vincent Mays, who had an interception, and senior cornerback Marcus McCauley. Junior end Tyler Clutts led the defensive front, putting pressure on all three quarterbacks. Clutts had seven quarterback sacks in 2005 and is the top return sack producer in the WAC.
"The defense played well today," said Hill. "We had some guys flying to the football and hitting. That's always a good sign. We want to develop our personality in the spring of being an aggressive, hard hitting team. We showed that today. We played at a fast pace today, as well, which is something we really work on."
Several key players did not participating in the scrimmage for a variety of injuries, including receiver Joe Fernandez, offensive linemen Chris Denman and Cole Popovich, kicker Clint Stitser, linebacker Marcus Riley and running back Clifton Smith.
The Bulldogs will hold their spring game on Saturday, April 1, at 11 a.m. at Bulldog Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the Bulldog radio flagship station KMJ 580 AM. Admission is free.
Prior to the spring game, Fresno State will hold a pre-game tailgate party and merchandise and apparel sale in the White Parking Lot beginning at 8 a.m.
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