Practice Report: USC on the Horizon
Aug. 18, 2014
By: Matt Burkholder
FRESNO, Calif. - The new week brought a change of pace for the Fresno State football team on Monday, a day in which the team began game prep for Southern California, opposed to the first two weeks of installation and conditioning throughout training camp.
The most visible change Monday morning was the work put forth during the second half of practice when the team dispersed between opposite practice fields, showing scout teams line up against the first and second teams for the first time this month.
"This is really day one," said head coach Tim DeRuyter. "We had our walkthrough on Saturday [afternoon following the morning scrimmage], but this is the first time our scouts had to try and go full speed showing USC's offensive and defensive schemes. We're a little rusty there, but we expect to be much better tomorrow and even better the next day."
A welcomed face working against the scout team defense was wide receiver Josh Harper. The Biletnikoff Award watchlister had been working with the team every day, but until today, he had been held out from team drills as a precautionary measure to prevent any unnecessary injury to the senior wideout.
The quarterback throwing the ball to Harper, even into day one of USC game prep, continues to be shared contest and an even split of reps. The two front runners, Brian Burrell and Brandon Connette, worked well each time under center and keep showing flashes at different times for their arguments for being named the starter.
"The thing that has been impressive is that Brian and Brandon have both really been competed their tails off," said DeRuyter about his two quarterbacks. "And that's why as a coach you love competition, you don't know how far a guy can go unless he's looking over his shoulder all the time and both those guys are handling it well. I feel comfortable with either of them being in the huddle right now leading our team, but as we go hopefully one will separate himself from the other."
Whoever that quarterback might be, the offensive line has all but solidified its starting unit. Two weeks into camp the offense line has shown throughout camp and into the first day of game prep for USC the same lineup - LT Alex Fifita, LG Sean Rubalcava, C Bo Bonnheim, RG Cody Wichmann and RT Justin Northern. A group that returns three starters, which allowed just 11 sacks in 13 games, a figure that ranked sixth in the FBS for the fewest sacks allowed in 2013.
The Bulldogs will carry on with game prep on Tuesday and Wednesday morning before getting Thursday off for the first day of school. Weekday practices will move to the afternoons to accommodate school schedules as Fresno State moves forward through the remainder of camp.
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