The 2012 Mountain West Media Days are being held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Live streaming by Ustream
July 23, 2012
By Jason Clay
2012 MW Football Days Central Page
Click Here to Submit Your Questions to the coaches and student-athletes participating in 2012 MW Football Media Days
Fresno State Media Day Notes
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -
First year head coach Tim DeRuyter is set to usher Fresno State into its first season in the Mountain West, as the Bulldogs open up fall camp in preparation for the 2012 season on Aug. 2. DeRuyter along with senior safety Phillip Thomas and junior quarterback Derek Carr are traveling to Las Vegas, Nev. to represent the team at the 2012 Mountain West Media Days, July 24-25, at the The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. This is Fresno State's first event as a Mountain West member, as the Bulldogs officially joined the conference on July 1.
Fresno State opens up its 91st season of football on Sept. 1 against Weber State in Bulldog Stadium. The 'Dogs play six home and six away games in 2012, and play 11-straight week before receiving their first bye week on Nov. 17.
The Bulldogs return 15 starters and 37 lettermen to its 2012 roster, which features 23 seniors. Headlining the senior class is running back Robbie Rouse, outside linebacker Travis Brown and safety Phillip Thomas. Fresno State is one of four Mountain West schools, joining Air Force (28), Boise State (25) and New Mexico (24), with 20 or more seniors on its roster.
Bulldog 2012 Headlines
Tim DeRuyter Era Begins
→ Tim DeRuyter enters his first season as Fresno State's head coach. He ushers the Bulldogs into their first season as members of the Mountain West.
→ Senior running back Robbie Rouse enters the season 317 yards shy of breaking the school's all-time rushing record that has stood since 1993.
→ Fresno State is looking to rebound from a 4-9 season in 2011, which was only its sixth losing season in the last 30 years.
Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter
, who was hired as the 17th head coach in Bulldog history on Dec. 14, 2011, enters his first season at the helm of Fresno State football. DeRuyter becomes just the third Bulldog coach since 1980 and comes to Fresno State with 22 years of experience as a college coach, 16 of which have been spent as a defensive coordinator. He spent the previous two seasons as the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. DeRuyter was the interim head coach for the Aggies in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas against Northwestern on Dec. 31,2011, leading A&M to a 33-22 victory. His vision at Fresno State is to build a championship football team, recapturing the Red Wave (Fresno State's fan base) and becoming a player once again on the national stage. The three characteristics you are going to see from his teams is that they are going to play fast, physical and with a fanatical effort.
New Brand of Football
DeRuyter hired Dave Schramm as the Bulldogs' offensive coordinator to run an up-tempo spread offense. The Bulldogs plan to stress opposing defense's with their tempo, as they are going no-huddle and plan on running upwards of 80-90 plays per game. The goal of Schramm's offense is to stretch the field vertically and horzontally and getting the ball in the hands of the team's playmakers.
On Defense, DeRuyter hired Nick Toth as the defensive coordinator to come in and run his 3-4 defense that he has been so successful with at previous coaching stops. Toth coach with DeRuyter at Texas A&M and played in his system under DeRuyter when he was the defensive coordinator at Ohio. Last year at Texas A&M, DeRuyter's and Toth's defense led the nation with 51 sacks. Fresno State ranked 77th nationally last year with 22 sacks in the 4-3 that was previously run. The goal of this defense is to attack the quarterback and force turnovers.
Rouse Eying School Rushing Record
Robbie Rouse, a 5-7, 190-pound fourth-year senior, enters the 2012 season 317 yards away from breaking Ron Rivers' school record for the most career rushing yards. Rivers ran for 3,473 yards from 1991-93 and Rouse enters his senior year ranked No. 3 in school history with 3,157 yards (Ryan Mathews, the 12th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft, is No. 2 in school history with 3,280 yards). Rouse also has the opportunity to become the first Fresno State tailback to rush for over 1,000 yards three times in a career.
Even with the transition to the spread offense, the coaching staff still has big plans for Rouse in the offense. Last year in the pro-style offense, Rouse set a program record and ranked No. 2 nationally with his 329 carries. The amount of work showed his toughness and durability, especially given his size. This year the coaching staff is looking for the same output in terms of yardage, but on fewer carries. The theory with the spread is that Rouse will be running against a lighter box, where as last year in the pro-style teams would stack the box to try and stop the run. If the teams stack the box this year, quarterback Derek Carr will air it out to burn the defense. In addition to running the ball, Fresno State also plans on throwing to Rouse a bunch out of the backfield. Rouse had 32 receptions last year for 228 yards and one touchdown.
Rouse, a first-team All-WAC selection in 2011, is already drawing acclaim entering his senior year. He has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award (American's outstanding football player), the Doak Walker Award (nation's premiere running back) and the CFPA All-Purpose Trophy.
Carr Looks To Build On 2011 Season
Junior quarterback Derek Carr returns for his second season under center. His first year as a starter was better than any other first-year starter in program history. Carr ranked 15th nationally and set a new Bulldog record for a sophomore by throwing for 3,544 yards in 2011. That total was the third-highest in program history. He completed 62.6 percent of his passes and had 26 touchdowns against nine interceptions. Of all the quarterbacks returning in 2012, Carr's 2011 passing yardage ranks as the eighth-highest among returnees. He is on the preseason watch lists for the Dave O'Brien Award, the Maxwell Award and the CFPA Quarterback Trophy Award.
This year in the spread, and with the talent surrounding him, it wouldn't be all that far fetched to think that Carr could put up bigger numbers. In addition to slinging the ball over the field, you'll see Carr running with it more as well in the new scheme. He is well equipped to do so, as he holds the Fresno State record for fastest time in the 40-yard dash by a quarterback at 4.56, which he ran this summer.
Experienced Squad Returning in 2012
Fresno State returns 15 starters and 37 lettermen from its 2011 team. The Bulldogs' 2012 roster features 23 seniors that have combined to make 145 starts and play in 446 games. Of the 23 seniors, six of them (Travis Brown, Rashad Evans, Michael Harris, Shawn Plummer, Robbie Rouse and Andrew Shapiro) have all played in 35 or more games in their careers. Travis Brown and Shawn Plummer have both played in 39 games. Brown has been in every single game since he arrived on campus as a true freshman in 2009. Plummer did the same as a true freshman in 2008 through 2010, but missed all of last season with an abdominal injury that caused him to redshirt. Brown's 26 starts are the most on the team and Robbie Rouse is second with 22.
Deep Receiving Corps
Fresno State and Oregon State were the only teams in the nation in 2011 that had six players catch 30 or more passes. This year, Fresno State returns four of its six that hauled in 30 or more receptions. That number ties for the national lead of returning players with 30-plus catches in 2011. Joining Fresno State on that list with four is Clemson, Oregon State, San Jose State and Tulsa.
Leading the group of returning receivers is senior Rashad Evans. Evans caught at least one pass in all 13 games last year and finished 2011 with 44 receptions for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore-to-be Josh Harper caught 35 passes for 497 yards and five touchdowns in 2011 - the most by a Bulldog freshman in the last 10 seasons. Isaiah Burse added 40 catches for 436 yards and one TD while Robbie Rouse had 32 catches for 228 yards and one touchdown. In addition to those four, quarterback Derek Carr also has more weapons to throw to. Add in 6-6 sophomore receiver Victor Dean, who ran a 4.39 40-yard dash in the off season, redshirt freshman Davante Adams and junior A.J. Johnson to the players you'll see significant contributions from. Dean caught two passes in 2011, both for touchdowns, as his height gives the 'Dogs a valuable weapon in the red zone. Johnson started seven games as a freshman in 2010 when he caught 20 passes. He only caught eight passes in 2011, but those went for 154 yards (a 19.2 average). Adams has the potential to be a star and had an impressive spring. He is the one redshirt freshman coaches have pointed out about having the ability to make the biggest impact in 2012.
Injured Players Retuning to Field
Fresno State lost the services of several key players last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. A total of 47 games were lost to injuries by players that entered the season on the 2-deep, and of those 47 games lost, 30 of them were on the defensive side of the ball. Here's a look at several of the key returnees that missed all or significant time last year due to injury:
OLB Shawn Plummer: Plummer missed the entire season in 2011 with an abdominal injury and redshirted. He has played in 39 career games and made five starts. Plummer returned for spring practices and his speed off the edge give the Bulldog defense a weapon rushing the quarterback.
FS Derron Smith: Smith broke his arm in the third game of the 2011 season, causing him to miss the rest of the year. He had 16 tackles in his limited action. Smith recorded eight tackles and one tackle for a loss in the season opener vs. Cal and then had six tackles, forced a fumble and picked off his first career pass in week two at No. 10 Nebraska. Smith received a medical redshit in 2011 and has three years of eligibility remaining.
SS Phillip Thomas: Thomas suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle in a non-contact drill three days before the 2011 season opener. He had surgery and missed the entire season, but returned in time for spring semester workouts and was 100 percent during spring football.
The Turnover Game
With the new 3-4 defense the Bulldogs will be running this year, a benchmark has been set by the coaching staff to force 30 or more turnovers every season. They plan on doing that by blitzing the quarterback and playing with a fanatical effort. An increase in turnovers forced will be a welcome site in the Valley. In each of the past six years, Fresno State has ranked 111th or worse nationally in turnovers gained and that is out of 120 FBS teams. In fact, the Bulldogs have not forced over 15 turnovers in each of the past five seasons. The nine turnovers the 2011 team forced tied for the fewest in the nation with Minnesota. Changing the history in the turnover department is one key towards winning more games.
Thomas to Follow in McDonald's Footsteps?
Strong safety Phillip Thomas is regarded as the team's most valuable defensive player and a future NFL draft pick. With the hiring of Tim McDonald as his position coach, Thomas will have the best mentor to help him excel in his final season as a Bulldog. McDonald played 13 seasons at safety in the NFL and was selected to six Pro Bowls while leading the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl XXIX Championship. In 2010 as a third-year sophomore, Thomas was fifth on the team with 64 tackles and he led the squad with three interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Travis Brown to Lead Defense
Outside linebacker Travis Brown enters his senior season on a couple of preseason watch lists for national awards. He was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List and to the Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List. Brown, a 6-1, 236-pound outside linebacker from Fresno, Calif., was a 2011 first-team All-WAC selection when he led the team 85 tackles to go along with 8.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. He has 189 tackles in his career (the most of any player on the team), 19.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks. Brown also garnered second-team All-WAC accolades as a sophomore in 2010 and he has played in all 39 Fresno State games since arriving on campus as a true freshman in 2009.
Five Starters Return to O-Line
Fresno State has five players returning to its offensive line that started seven or more games in 2011. Junior Austin Wentworth was the only one of the returning linemen that started all 13 games last season. He made seven starts at right guard and six at right tackle, but will move over to left tackle this year. He is replacing the graduated Bryce Harris, who from 2009-11, started 39-straight games at left tackle for the Bulldogs. Cody Wichmann started 10 games as a redshirt freshman in 2011, seven at right tackle where he will play this year. Center Richard Helepiko started eight games in 2011, missing five due to injury. Then guards Matt Hunt and Trevor Richter also started seven games apiece a year ago. Helepiko, Hunt and Richter all enter their senior seasons. Behind those five the Bulldogs do not have a lot a depth. To address that issue, Fresno State brought in junior college transfers Mike Saenz (Fullerton College) and James Le'au (Pasadena City College). In addition to those two, underclassmen Bo Bonnheim, Andrew Gustafson and Justin Northern will all be competing for playing time.
2005 Remarkably Similar to 2012
This 2012 season is very similar to how the 2005 season started. In 2005, Fresno State opened up with a home game against Weber State and in week two traveled to Oregon. The Bulldogs defeated Weber State 55-17 at home in the 2005 opener, but fell 37-34 at Oregon the next weekend. Fresno State entered that Oregon game ranked No. 23 nationally and was led by 418 yards passing from quarterback Paul Pinegar. The Bulldogs finished the 2005 season 8-5 and played in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, where they fell 31-24 to Tulsa. Fresno State and Tulsa are set to meet again this season on Sept. 22, 2012.
The Nation's Premiere Team in Blocking Kicks
Fresno State's special teams have been the best in the nation over the past 15 seasons. In that time, the Bulldogs have blocked 101 kicks - 45 punts and 56 kicks. Looking at the numbers since 2002, Fresno State has a clear lead on the number of blocks with 66. That is 11 more than any other team in the nation, as Rutgers is second with 55. Last season, the Bulldogs blocked one punt, three field goal attempts and six PATs. Cody Wichmann led the team with four blocks and Marcel Jensen added three. Matt Akers and Tristan Okpalaugo both have one blocked kick. Milton Knox recorded Fresno State's only blocked punt of the season, which came Sept. 24, 2011 at Idaho.
Most Blocked Kicks in the NCAA since 2002
1. Fresno State, 66
2. Rutgers, 55
3. Texas, 54
4. Florida, 48
5. Louisiana, 47
6. Boise State, 43
7. Middle Tennessee, 40
Kansas State, 40
9. Nebraska, 38
12. Virginia Tech, 37
13. UCLA, 36
14. Air Force, 35
15. Florida State, 33