By: Matt Burkholder
|Head Coach Tim DeRuyter
FRESNO, Calif. - With the Fresno State football team building toward its second scrimmage of fall training camp on Saturday, the offense and defense continue to get the best of one another as key position battles keep heating up. Much of Friday's practice consisted of situational drills that will be prevalent in Saturday's live action.
The offense appeared to have figured it out early on, but the defense showed some grit to close the day.
"I thought today's practice was good," said head coach Tim DeRuyter. "A lot of back-and-forth between the offense and defense, we had some more situational stuff today. We had some second down and third downs, however it played out, the offense had the upper hand in that. We went to a two minute drill at the end, and our defense came back and got two stops which were good to see."
Senior quarterback Brandon Connette ran the first team offense in the situational down-and-distance drills, all second and third down situations. Connette led the `Dogs to two first downs on four attempts. Connette used his legs to convert one third down, gaining four yards on a third-and-3. He also connected with Greg Watson for an 11-yard pickup on third-and-7 on his only pass of the drill. The breakout play behind Connette's offense was from sophomore running back Dontel James, as he busted loose for a 79-yard touchdown on a second-and-6 play.
The second team offense also manufactured two first downs with four attempts behind junior quarterback Brain Burrell. Running back Darryl Cash picked up both first downs on the ground. Burrell was 2-for-3 for nine yards. The first completion to Delvon Hardaway happened on a second-and-10 situation that produced eight yards, Cash picked up the first on the ensuing play with a two-yard run. The other first down was a seven-yard rush on a second-and-6 situation.
Practice concluded with a drill that set the offense up with one-minute 30 seconds remaining, down 31-28. The defense, after allowing four first downs and a touchdown on the down-and-distance drills on eight series, closed out practice stopping the offense from scoring the go-ahead points each time. The defense came up with a sack and pass deflection against Burrell and the ones as he went four-and-out. Connette's run with the twos ended on 2nd-and-10 with an interception by Justin Holmes. Kilton Anderson led the threes to its only first down, an 18-yard scramble to the defense's 44. The offense turned the ball over on downs on the next series to end Friday's practice.
"We're at that point now where there's not a lot of install," said DeRuyter. "It's more of polishing and honing in on what we got to do for the season going into our scrimmage tomorrow and then next week we'll start going into our USC prep."
As the Bulldogs enter Saturday's scrimmage, there are still a lot of positions up for grabs. Which builds even more importance on the scrimmage as the `Dogs will need to sort out their two-deep leading into game prep.
"Who are going to be those guys that earn those reps to be in that two-deep and push the ones," said DeRuyter about the magnitude of Saturday's scrimmage. "Or they might slip to a three. We'll have a lot of snaps tomorrow to see who's at a point to compete at the high-end or get passed up."
The quarterback battle between Connette and Burrell is also still a tight race after 17 practices. One where both have played so well, there has yet to be no true separation between the two quarterbacks.
"Tomorrow will be a big day for both of them at the scrimmage," DeRuyter added. "We'll put them in some live situations, see who's making the right decisions and putting the ball where it needs to be."
No matter what the outcome of the scrimmage, a starter will not be decided until the week of the USC game as DeRuyter has made known throughout fall camp.
Saturday's scrimmage will be closed to the public, to stay current the Bulldogs football team visit GoBulldogs.com for practice recaps, highlights and stats. Fresno State will have its second off day of fall camp Sunday before heading back to the field on Monday.
"Be Bold!" - The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.
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