Spring Football: Practice Report No. 11
    Wide receiver Justin Johnson
    Wide receiver Justin Johnson

    March 28, 2014

    By Jason Clay
    jaclay@csufresno.edu
    GoBulldogs.com

    FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State went through its 11th of 15 spring practices on Friday morning, putting a heavy emphasis on stressing its team to make the right decisions and reads under pressure during the team periods.

    After Wednesday's scrimmage, one in which the offense had its best day of the spring, the coaching staff is now looking to put the team through all variations of game scenarios for the remainder of camp with the overall goal of getting better every day heading into the summer.

    "I think we are getting better on both sides of the ball, but there is still a lot of work to be done," head coach Tim DeRuyter said Friday. "The defense needs to run the patterns against protections and understand how they fit and the offense needs to see those at a good speed."

    After the live scrimmage two days ago, the Bulldogs came out on Friday and did not tackle to the ground. Instead the emphasis was more mental, making the right reads and being in the right spot.

    "When you have days like today when you are not tackling, those are good periods to have," DeRuyter said. "I thought it was good work, but it will be good to watch that on film and get guys to understand what we are trying to do."

    Here is a rundown of how the three team periods went on Friday...

    Third-and-Long
    This was the first team period, where the first-team offense went up against the first-team defense and the twos up against one another. Each unit got six chances to convert third downs from long distances - between five and 10 yards.

    Quarterback Zack Greenlee went with the first-team offense here, converting just 1-of-6 third downs. Outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine interrupted the first two tries, getting a tackle for a loss on the first play against running back Marteze Waller and then a quarterback hurry on Greenlee, forcing a wide throw to Greg Watson on the sideline.

     

     

    After a dropped pass and a sack from linebacker Brandon Hughes, Greenlee hit Justin Johnson on a five-yard pass and Johnson did the rest, breaking a tackle to pick up the lone first down for the first-team offense.

    Myles Carr went with the twos at quarterback on offense and was able to use his feet to help the unit convert 4-of-6 first downs.

    They missed the first one on a completion for no gain, but on the second try Carr scrambled out of the pocket away from the rush and hit Devonn Brown for a first down. The third play was a completion to tight end Riley Barnes, but linebacker T.J. Thomas downed him short of a first.

    Carr and the 'O' then picked up the next three third-down tries, starting with his scramble out of the pocket, again away from the blitzing defense to run for the first down. Carr followed by hitting Johnson across the middle for a first before the blitzing safety Charles Washington could get to him for the sack. The final play was the best - a screen pass to Darryl Cash that worked to perfection thanks to a key block from guard Elijah Cox on Ederaine.

    Red Zone
    Here again, the top two units went up against each other for seven scripted plays apiece with no down or distance, but starting from the 25-yard line and moving in towards the goal line.

    With the first units, quarterback Brian Burrell connected on TD passes to Johnson (17 yards) and Darrell Fuery (12 yards).

    Defensively, Derron Smith had a tackle for a loss and fellow safety Charles Washington had tight coverage on Greg Watson to for an incompletion on the first play of the period.

    For the second team, the offensive was led by Greenlee and Cash. Greenlee completed all four of his passes, which included a five-yard TD to Johnson. Cash had three runs for 18 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run.

    Time-and-Score
    This was the last team period of the day, where the offense is put in the situation being down by three with 1:15 remaining on the clock. They start on their own 40-yard line and look to get into field goal range or score a touchdown before the clock runs out.

    Carr and the first-team offense went up against the first-team defense on the first of two series. Carr connected with Fuery for a 16-yard gain on a third-and-10 to put the offense on the right side of the field. After an incompletion, he then hit Watson on a 9-yard pass to the 35-yard line. On the third-and-one play that followed, Carr looked to hit Dillon Root in the end zone, but overthrew Root and cornerback Jamal Ellis made a diving interception in the end zone to kill the offense's drive.

    The second drive in time-and-score was with Burrell running the second-team offense against the second-team defense.

    Like Carr, Burrell converted the first third-down the team faced - a five-yard completion to tight end Jerin McClendon when they needed four yards to move the sticks. That put the ball just past midfield.

    After two incompletions caused by heavy pressure from the defense, then a dropped pass on third-down, the second-team unit was faced with a fourth-and-10. That's when Burrell was picked off by cornerback Curtis Riley and that's how the practice came to an end.

    "I was disappointed in our offense in the two-minute drill, you can't turn the ball over and twice we did that," DeRuyter said. "I was happy for the defense, they made plays, but really the quarterbacks didn't do a good job of understanding the situation, threw it into coverage and you can't do that."

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