Bulldogs Backfield Full of Options
Aug 15, 2013
By: Matt Burkholder
FRESNO, Calif. - One thing about a football roster that you can't have enough of is depth and that is exactly what the Fresno State football team has at the running back position going through this season's fall camp.
The 'Dogs reported for camp two weeks ago with a bevy of options for running backs coach Joe Wade to decipher from and to this day he says nobody has given an inch. All while remaining healthy with the group taking maximum reps, other than Malique Micenheimer who suffered a setback at last week's scrimmage that coaches are being cautious about.
"We have four guys and then there is Malique who was having a great camp," said Wade. "We have five guys that can play, but I don't want to pigeon hole myself by saying this or that. We're going to act accordingly based on production and how they practice and so far no one has given an inch yet. Right now someone has to run with the ones and someone has to run with the twos."
On Thursday Marteze Waller and Josh Quezada continued to see a split in carries with the ones while T.J. Thomas and Dontel James shared time with the second team. Both Waller and Quezada have seen the bulk of the carries since working through spring ball with the first team and bring their own skill set to the table each time they take the field.
"All the backs have different strengths and weaknesses and what we've tried to focus on is enhancing the weaknesses they have and they're all different," said Wade. "We're trying to get a complete player out of all of them.
"I think Marteze has done a great job over the summer working on his pass catching skills and route running. He was a guy coming out of high school that ran out of the I-formation and ran between the tackles so that is his strength, but I believe he's getting better at the passing game.
"Josh, being a former player at BYU, is more comfortable with the passing game having played in that type of offense, but he's also a very capable runner. I'd like to think they are both sharpening up everything to where they are a more complete back and that's our goal."
When it comes to seeing who will carry the load once the lights are on, Wade believes we will have to wait and see. Although, the team is not focusing on finding one back to shoulder the load as Robbie Rouse did a season ago.
"I think it'll come to fruition as we play," Wade said. "Production is going to dictate that, if someone is in there and they're being highly productive, you're more likely to stay in there. Hopefully they're all productive, but if one looks to be emerging then we'll have to act accordingly. Until then they all look very capable of seeing the field."
The second teamers are not far behind either. As exemplified on the practice field Thursday morning, Thomas and James alternated with the first team alongside Waller and Quezada as lead blockers on some two-back sets and paved the way with some productive lead blocks.
"We have guys with versatility that can do a lot of things," said Wade. "It's not going to be where your anticipating this guy blocks or this guy runs. That's what I like about this group. They all have good skill sets in not only running, but both areas of blocking and catching.
"We are not going to exclude anybody. They've all done good things. I'm excited to see what happens and obviously we're going to have to run somebody out there first come game time, but I'm not taking anybody out it."
Linebacker Kyrie Wilson picked off back-to-back interceptions in a goal line 7-on-7 drill. One off of Carr and one from Burrell.
Alex Fifita continues to take reps with the first-team O-line as the left guard. The first team offensive line today starting at left tackle was Austin Wentworth, Alex Fifita, Lars Bramer, Cody Wichmann, Justin Northern. The second team from left tackle today was Josh Tremblay, Mike Saenz, Bo Bonnheim, James Le'au, David Patterson.
Running back James Noble III was in day two of the NCAA mandated acclimatization period. Noble will have two more days before joining the team in full pads. He will wear No. 44.
Linebacker Courtney Tender changed number from No. 56 to No. 53
"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.