Back At It
Aug. 2, 2013
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
Head coach Tim DeRuyter liked how his guys looked on the field from the standpoint of the size and shape they are in and from the leadership he saw on day one.
"We expect our guys to have a good mojo on the first day, a lot of energy and we saw that," DeRuyter said. "I thought that our first units on both sides of the ball were crisp, had great retention and I thought our offense showed some pretty good timing and guys were making plays."
With the opening of fall camp, the team starts the process of looking to repeat last season's Mountain West championship.
"Our No. 1 goal every single year is to win a conference championship," DeRuyter said. "To do that, you don't just show up on the 29th [of August] and play, you've got to put the work in every single day and our guys realize that. I want them practicing like we're the hunter and we're going after that.
"Everybody talked about at the league media days that we have a target on our chest and I told our guys last night, `BS on that.' Everybody in this league has a target on their chest and we're coming after them."
There are some heated position battles on both sides of the ball that the coaches will look to settle in the first couple weeks of practice. The main spots are up front on the line and at running back on offense, along with a cornerback and outside linebacker hole on defense.
Senior L.J. Jones, a preseason All-MW selection, is entrenched as the starter at one cornerback spot, but with Sean Alston missing the year due to injury, the side opposite of him is open. Second-year players Jamal Ellis and Shannon Edwards along with senior Jonathan Norton are all battling for playing time there.
"Ellis showed up and made a big pick that was impressive, [Kyrian] Obidiegwu had a pick," DeRuyter said about his cornerbacks at practice on Friday. "So we had some guys that had some flash moments, but I got to watch the tape to see how they are doing every single rep."
That position received a new addition to the group as well with Curtis Riley from Fullerton College signing a financial aid agreement with the Bulldogs on Thursday. He was on the field practicing Friday with the team. Riley is a long-armed, 6-0, 190-pounder originally from Orlando, Fla.
Up front on the offensive line, coach Cameron Norcross will be shifting players around early on in camp to find his best five linemen as he looks to establish the unit's identity.
"Right now the biggest thing we got to set is an effort and a mindset that we are going to be physical and we are going to play with a great effort," Norcross said.
Behind the offensive line, Marteze Waller and Josh Quezada split time with the No. 1 offense at running back. Those two along with Malique Micenheimer, T.J. Thomas and freshman Dontel James give offensive coordinator Dave Schramm a deep group as the 'Dogs look to replace Robbie Rouse, the school's all-time leading rusher.
"We don't have a guy that has proven to be the guy yet, but we feel good about the group of guys that we have," Schramm said. "In this system, we've played with two backs before that rotated. I feel we will be as good if not better, production wise from that position, as we were a year ago. I'm excited about the group of guys that we have."
The highlight of Friday's practice had to be a pair of catches by Davante Adams. He won a jump ball battle against Derron Smith, deep down the sideline, snagging the ball in the air before Smith, who was in better position, could pick it off. Then Adams also made an impressive diving catch on the sideline, showing good agility to change directions quickly to make the catch.
Fresno State is back on the field Saturday morning for its second practice and again the team will be in just helmets. The Bulldogs go in shells (helmets and shoulder pads) on Sunday and Monday before suiting up in full pads for the first time on Tuesday.
"Discover Fresno State Football" - 2013 Fresno State football season tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.