Every now and then, you’ll hear athletes say they’re in the “zone.” The zone is supposed to be that place where nothing can distract them. It also happens to be the place where tremendous feats of athletic prowess are put on display.
And if Fresno State junior quarterback Derek Carr has found the “zone,” it looks like he won’t be leaving any time soon.
Just six games into the 2012 college football season, Carr and the Bulldogs are putting on an offensive showcase that is thrilling fans and leaving opponents shaking their heads in disbelief.
With Carr at the helm of the offense, the Bulldogs have gotten off to a successful start in their first year in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) going 2-0 in conference play and 4-2 overall.
It seems like whenever that ball zips out of Carr’s hand, something magical is about to happen. And it usually does.
“I’ve tried to put in as much hard work as I could to get ready for the season,” said Carr. “I’m just trying to run it to the best of my abilities.”
Well, so far, Carr seems to have taken to the changes pretty in the ’Dogs offense scheme pretty well. Recently, he was named the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week after he shredded the San Diego State Aztecs by completing 42 passes for 536 yards and five touchdowns. It was a record-setting performance and tied the school single-game passing mark held by Dave Telford.
Yet, despite his early season success, Carr says there’s still room to grow – for him and the team.
“I have so much room to grow,” he said. “I’m going to continue to learn as much as I can.”
And if he continues to learn – and thrive – in coach Tim DeRuyter’s spread offense, Carr is going to place himself in the upper echelon of other great Bulldogs quarterbacks like Trent Dilfer, Kevin Sweeney, Mark Barsotti and some other guy named David Carr, who helped carry Fresno State to national prominence in 2000 and 2001 and became the first overall pick of the Houston Texans in the 2002 NFL Draft.
If you think that the younger Carr would find it unnerving to be compared to his older brother, you’d be wrong. In fact, Carr feels honored when comparisons are drawn between the two of them.
“Those have been there my whole life,” he said. “If you want to compare me to him, I’ll take that as a compliment.”
Based on his play so far this year, Carr may not have to worry about measuring up to others. So far, he has completed an astounding 68.5% of his passes, throwing for 1,816 yards and 18 touchdowns. And against Colorado State on Saturday, he threw four more touchdowns in guiding the Bulldogs to a 28-7 victory.
Carr’s exploits have caught the attention of the NCAA. In the preseason, he was named to the watch list for the Davey O’Brien Award, which is given at the end of the year to the best quarterback in college football.
Carr joins a list that includes Matt Barkley of USC, Landry Jones of Oklahoma and Geno Smith of West Virginia.
“It’s awesome,” Carr said. “It’s a great honor to be mentioned on that list.”
Despite preseason accolades and record-breaking performances, Carr knows the best is yet to come. He says that he is still making adjustments to a new game plan, and acknowledges there is always some tweaking to do in the spread offense.
Carr will continue to show how much he’s grown when the Bulldogs travel to Boise, Idaho next weekend to take on their old rivals, the Broncos. For Fresno State, it’ll be another chance to take down its heated foe. For Carr, it’ll be another chance to pad that record book with more numbers, this time against a program that has been a thorn in the Bulldogs’ side.
If the previous six games are any indication, Carr’s offensive excellence should continue.
After all, he is in the “zone.” Hopefully, he won’t be disturbed.