Fresno State quarterback Brian Burrell scans the backfield during the Bulldogs’ 55-19 loss to Nebraska Sept. 20. Photo by Khlarissa Agee/The Collegian
Uncertainty haunts the quarterback position for the Fresno State football team heading into Week 11 of the 2014 season.
Bulldogs head coach Tim DeRuyter announced in Monday’s weekly press conference that again, there would be an open competition this week to determine the starter for Saturday’s matchup when the ‘Dogs host in-state rival San Jose State (3-5, 2-2 Mountain West).
“We’re going to look at competition everywhere. and the quarterback position is of one of those that we’re going to look at,” DeRuyter said. “We have to feel confident that whoever lines up can effectively run our entire offense. We’re looking at everything right now, and nothing is set in stone.”
The Bulldogs (3-6, 2-3 MW) had started junior Brian Burrell every game this season up until last week against Wyoming. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Zack Greenlee, who the coaching staff turned to in hopes of turning the season around.
Burrell struggled in the first three games of the season, which all came against Power-Five opponents. Then, he helped lead the team to wins over Southern Utah and conference opponents New Mexico and San Diego State to get back to .500. The most recent three games, however, haven’t been in the Bulldogs’ favor. The losses include falling short on the road to UNLV and Boise State and being blown out by Wyoming at home last week.
In his first career start at Fresno State, Greenlee totaled 55 yards on 7-of-16 passing. The freshman played up until early in the fourth quarter. At that point, Burrell replaced him with his team down 28-10.
Based off of the Cowboys’ defensive tendencies, DeRuyter hoped his freshman quarterback would be able to get into a rhythm and operate the offense. But that didn’t appear to be the case, as he was forced to turn to Burrell to finish the game.
“With going up against this type of defense, we had anticipated Zack having some success and getting into a rhythm running our offense,” DeRuyter said. “We knew they weren’t going to be a team that is exotic or a team that blitzes a lot.
“When we got late into that third quarter or fourth quarter, we brought Brian in, and we were trying to work some things with Zack. We had some plays called against the exact defense we had practiced against during the week. Multiple times, he wasn’t executing the offense correctly, not going through the reads and not trusting his protections. We thought at the time that for us to have a chance for us to win the football game, we had to go with Brian, because we knew he had been in that situation.”
Burrell, on the other hand, was 7-of-13 for 94 yards and a touchdown but threw two interceptions in his quarter of play.
With the signal caller position being open, Burrell said he would prepare himself as if he were the starter and focus on preparing for the task at hand.
“It was a whole team effort, and we didn’t do good enough as a team,” Burrell said about last week’s game. “We have to go 1-0 each week, and that’s all we’re going to focus on.”