By: Matt Burkholder
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State football team took the field Friday morning wearing full pads with the same energy and intensity all camp long for its first practice following up a two-a-day.
Some of that energy that could noticeably be seen Friday came from the offensive line during running back drills as the line tested the defense with some heavy hitting at the line of scrimmage.
"I thought our offense did a great job today, being tough-willed and getting those tough yards," said head coach Tim DeRuyter. "It was good to see, but on the other side of the ball, the defense needs to step up. It's always tough when it's third-and-one or two, but that's what you expect them to do is stop them."
As the offense builds its continuity, the veteran-led defense, backed by eight returning starters, continues to build on its experience and take-in more concepts. The 2013 squad showed it can compete. The 2014 goal is to shore up those holes.
"I think some of the guys that made mistakes last year have worked hard since last season to fix it," said defensive coordinator Nick Toth. "I think the good thing is that our guys know that when we played good last year, we were pretty darn good."
For the first time during the 2014 camp while working through the 7-on-7 team periods, the ones and twos separated from the threes and fours, utilizing both fields at the practice facility.
"We're trying to maximize the number of reps right now," said DeRuyter. "Especially offensively we got some younger guys, we want our ones and twos to get the majority of the reps, but it thins things down for the three's and four's. This time of year we're all about development, especially those young guys, to see who might help us down the line."
The Bulldogs will take the afternoon off Friday to prepare for their second two-a-day of five scheduled this camp. What separates Saturday's two-a-day is that it is the team's one chance to showcase their talent in front of the Red Wave as coach DeRuyter will open up both practices in part of a Fan Appreciation Day.
For the morning practice the team will go through drills in helmets only, address special teams drills, two-minute drills, and some other light work to build toward the team's first scrimmage of camp Saturday evening. Tentatively, the plan is to run 80-100 plays.
"We'll gauge it as [the scrimmage] goes along," said DeRuyter. "We know what a Tyeler Davsion can do, we know what some of our starters can do. We may pull those guys out early and give more reps to those younger guys."
Although, it does not mean the first scrimmage is not important for certain areas of the ball. For the offense in particular, there are skill positions that remain open after eight practices, and Saturday night will be the time for players to step-up and showcase themselves.
"I've seen some good things out of Myles Carr and LeKendrick Williams at practice," DeRuyter said. "Now you're in a more of a game-like situation, can you do it on the field in front of fans? We want to see our quarterbacks, are they going to be able to lead us down the field and make good decisions with bullets flying. All those kind of things you want to see where we're at."
On Saturday, the Fresno State football team will host two open practices that fans can attend - both located in Bulldog Stadium.
The morning practice, will run from 9:15-10:45 a.m. Following that practice, the team will be signing autographs for approximately 30 minutes for fans along the "Dog House" wall on the south entrance of Bulldog Stadium.
Then that evening from 7-9 p.m., Fresno State's first scrimmage of fall camp is also open to the public. Fans are invited to arrive as early as 6 p.m. There will be free give-aways of the new 2014 team poster and schedule magnet at the scrimmage and Pardini's, Fresno State's new concessionaire, will have a stand open at the south gate of the stadium.
Parking will be free to the public in both the blue and red lots.
"Be Bold!" - The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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