DeRuyter Sees `Crisper' Team in Second Scrimmage

    Aug. 16, 2014

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    By Jason Clay
    jaclay@csufresno.edu
    GoBulldogs.com

    Post-Practice Interviews
    Head Coach Tim DeRuyter
    Defensive Coordinator Nick Toth
    FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State football team held its second scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday, running 89 plays in the morning session that featured a heavy dose of situational work as the Bulldogs move closer to their season-opening game on Aug. 30 at USC.

    Saturday mornings scrimmage saw the Bulldogs move the ball on drives, focusing on third-down plays, coming out of their own end zone and drilling red zone work, working on their special teams units and time-and-score scenarios.

    "We made progress from last week. I thought both quarterbacks again looked good, that was encouraging to see," head coach Tim DeRuyter said. "We had some guys step up and make plays. I thought Dontel James really ran the ball hard.

    "We got a lot of situational work done, which we intended to do and we got out of here without any major injuries, so all in all a pretty good scrimmage."

    Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette continue their battle for the starting position at quarterback, and in Saturday's scrimmage, both had their moments. Burrell was 6-for-10 passing for 71 yards with one touchdown and one interception while Connette was 6-for-9 for 63 yards and one TD. Burrell also had an 80-yard touchdown run in the scrimmage.

    Both quarterbacks threw their touchdown passes when the team was running the red zone portion of the scrimmage. Burrell hit Delvon Hardaway on an 18-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone and Connette found Myles Carr on a 20-yard scoring connection.

    Burrell's one interception came on a screen pass, where he flung the ball side-armed. Nose guard Maurice Poyadue got a hand on it to deflect it into the hands of Ejiro Ederaine. That ended the time-and-score drive for the offense when it started at its own 38-yard line with 59 seconds on the clock. The interception happened as time expired with 29-yards to go to the end zone.

    The scrimmage started out with the team working on third-down plays of distances between three and 12 yards. The Bulldog defense held the offense to just two conversions on 12 tries. Freshman linebacker Michael Lazarus had three-straight third-down tackles running with the twos and Karl Mickelsen had a tackle for a loss with the ones on a third-and-3.

    "I really liked how Michael Lazarus played," defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. "He had been splitting time with Xavier Ulutu and Jeff Camilli with the twos. Michael Lazarus got all the reps today with the twos and I was really pleased with him today. I like how our twos played today at middle linebacker."

    One of the two third-down conversions was a big one, however. On a third-and-10, Brian Burrell took the shotgun snap and darted right up the gut and down the field for an untouched 80-yard touchdown run.

    After the third-down period, Fresno State went to live drives starting at their own 30-yard line. Connette started it off by taking the first-team offense on an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that James capped off with a nine-yard touchdown run. That was the only points produced by the offense in three drives. The second-team defense held the twos on offense to three-and-outs on the other two drives.

    Fresno State ran two series with the offense starting backed up on its own one-yard line, but was able to march forward and away from its goal line for first downs on both tries. Burrell got the first-team offense to move the sticks by connecting on a 20-yard pass to Da'Mari Scott and Connette hit tight end Jerin McClendon for an eight-yard pickup on a third-and-6 to pick up the first down.

    Little scenarios like that are where DeRuyter sees the progress in his team as the Bulldogs are now through 18 of the 29 practices before their first game.

    "I think we're crisper overall," DeRuyter said. "The young guys are still a little ways away. We got into a little more situational stuff. We had a backed up series and the offense did a great job getting first downs coming out. The flip side is the defense didn't keep them in there so it's always a balance of one side did good."

    The younger players got in a lot of good work at the end of the scrimmage. True freshman quarterback Kilton Anderson reeled off a big 39-yard run down to the five-yard line and running back James Noble added a 38-yard run on the next drive. Both of those drives resulted in field goals.

    Fresno State will be back out on the practice fields for an hour Saturday afternoon in just helmets, fine-tuning what the coaches saw in the scrimmage.

    Then after an off-day on Sunday, the Bulldogs will begin their game prep for USC on Monday as that that first game of the season nears.

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