Aug. 26, 2013
By Jason Clay
By Jason Clay
|Monday Press Conference Interviews|
|Head Coach Tim DeRuyter
|Senior QB Derek Carr
Opportunity - that is what is out there Thursday night. A big-time opponent coming into Bulldog Stadium and what better way is there to start off the season than with a tough challenge.
With as much hype as there is entering this season, Fresno State looks to take advantage of its veteran and experienced team, one laced with talent and proven players. There are also a number of heralded up-and-coming players - Charles Washington for example replacing Phillip Thomas at strong safety - looking to prove themselves under the lights.
"We're really excited that we're finally here, our guys have worked their tails off since January to get to this point," DeRuyter said Monday at his weekly press conference. "We're really excited at the opportunity to play the defending Big East champions, a team very, very similar to us.
"They're a very physical team. We know it's a big, big challenge to have them come to Bulldog Stadium, but we love the fact that they are here."
Even with that eagerness to get this thing kicked off, DeRuyter has been very stern with this team to keep them hungry and focused.
"This time of year, nobody's played so everybody wants to talk about the possibilities," DeRuyter said. "We've talked since day one about ignoring the noise. The only thing our guys are focusing on is that which we have control over and that's Thursday night."
Facing a big-time opponent was one thing DeRuyter believes helped his team stay dialed in all summer.
"They knew that we better be ready," DeRuyter said. "I'm glad we have a veteran group coming back. I'd be a little more nervous if we had a situation where we are replacing 15 starters as opposed to bringing 15 starters back. Anytime you get a BCS team to come to Bulldog Stadium I think is huge and hopefully our fans, the Red Wave, will respond and put a little bit of pressure on them."
Across the board there are compelling storylines surrounding the game. Derek Carr opens his senior campaign. Fresno State's secondary matching up with Rutgers talented 6-6 receiver Brandon Coleman. The battle in the trenches between two teams with elite defensive lines.
"They're a great team, that's why I'm so excited for this challenge because they are so good," Carr said. "I'm ready to get back out there and I'm glad our opening game is a challenge against them."
For Fresno State, one facet to watch will be the play at running back in the first game since the graduation of Robbie Rouse. DeRuyter announced at Monday's press conference that junior Josh Quezada would start and Marteze Waller will get the second series.
You are not going to replace the school's all-time leading rusher, as Rouse holds 10 school rushing records in all, but DeRuyter likes the depth he has in the backfield this season.
"If someone gets a hot hand, we're going to keep riding that horse but we plan on playing a multitude of backs," DeRuyter said. "I like our depth there and we'll just see how it plays out."
The Bulldogs practiced Monday afternoon in the Valley heat and have two more practices to refine their game plan before taking the field Thursday night for the 7:30 p.m. game against the Scarlet Knights.
"Catch the Wave" - 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.
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