Spring game goes to ‘Dogs

Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater surveys the field for an open target while senior defensive tackle Jason Shirley tracks him down from behind. Brandstater completed 10 of 15 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.
Juan Villa / The Collegian

For the second time in two weeks, the Fresno State offense was victorious over the defense in the annual spring football scrimmage.

The 80-play scrimmage ended with a bang, as Bulldogs freshman quarterback Ryan Colburn threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sonny McCree to end the day. That same play was also the designated media period, in which members of the media — including The Collegian’s Darrell Copeland III — were assigned different sides of the ball to call plays with Fresno State’s second-team members.

Despite a victory for the offense, the Bulldogs defense also shined as it showed a hard-hitting personality in the secondary. But like a championship prize fight in boxing, the offense exchanged jabs with the defense, making for a hard fought scrimmage.

“I was very happy with the scrimmage,� Fresno State head coach Pat Hill said. “It was a good, intense scrimmage. We saw some good hitting out there. It was a good way to wind down the spring. The offense was very efficient. We ran the ball better today than we did last week.�

Nearly 3,000 fans braved the 95-degree weather, but those who showed up saw 10 of the 80 plays go for 15 yards or more. For the Bulldogs offense, quarterback Tom Brandstater unofficially passed for 126 yards on 10 of 15 throwing with one touchdown and one interception.

Colburn, who is expected to enter the season as Brandstater’s backup, also had an effective day, throwing for 116 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions on 11 of 15 passing.

One of the biggest concerns the Bulldogs wanted to address was the running game, as last season’s leading rusher, Dwayne Wright, has since moved on the National Football League. After Saturday’s performance from Lonyae Miller, that spot might no longer be a concern. Miller rushed for 41 yards on seven carries, including a 26-yard run.

Fresno State’s other main concern going into the scrimmage was the play of a young secondary, which should be tested all throughout the 2007 season with the Western Athletic Conference’s high-scoring offenses.

Marvin Haynes, Lorne Bell and Jake Jorde all had interceptions for the Bulldogs, while senior linebacker Marcus Riley had three tackles, including two tackles for loss. Senior defensive end Tyler Clutts and A.J. Jefferson reigned as the day’s top performers for Bulldogs defense.

Clutts tracked down Fresno State quarterbacks for two sacks for seven yards while Jefferson led the team in tackles with five.

“We still have some work to do,� Hill said. “But we got in a lot of good work this spring. We saw some players emerge not only as players, but as leaders of this football team. We can use this to build on our personality.

“We have some aggressive players on defense. I really like our team speed on defense. I think this is the fastest team we’ve had. Every team has a different personality and I like what I’ve seen so far.�

Other standouts for the Fresno State offense were Seyi Ajirotutu and Jesus Tapia, who each had a touchdown catch in the scrimmage. Ajirotutu averaged 16.8 yards on four catches.

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