Ricardo Cano / The Collegian
Coach Tim DeRuyter has reiterated that this year’s team will be fast, physical, and fanatical. After today’s team scrimmage, though, it appears that the defensive side of the ball is closer to living up to that billing.
In the only practice of the season made available to the public and media in its entirety, the Bulldogs’ 3-4 defense suppressed an up-tempo spread offense that appeared stagnant in the red zone.
“Defensively, our guys came out with the right attitude and played with some energy, they got after it,” DeRuyter said. “Offensively we didn’t match that and it was kind of disappointing.”
The Bulldog’s first team offense was without senior running back Robbie Rouse, who DeRuyter said was kept out of the live scrimmage as a precaution and is not injured.
“I really think he’s one of the best running backs in the league, you’re always going to have a hard time tackling that guy,” said defensive coordinator Nick Toth. “Our scheme wouldn’t have been any different, but our guys would have been more challenged [had Rouse played].”
With 18 practices still remaining before the Sept. 1 season opener against Weber State, Toth said the defense responded well to the spread offense’s speed, though they need to still work on finishing tackles.
“Their attitude was awesome,” he said. “We don’t get to go live enough right now and they met the challenge today. Sometimes guys can be on their heels the first time they have to tackle in this situation.”
Junior quarterback Derek Carr, who only played three series with the offense, led them to the red zone in his second possession after connecting on back-to-back first-down passes to redshirt freshman Davante Adams.
Though the defense managed to hold the offense to a field goal, fans and spectators at the scrimmage got to see Carr scramble towards the end zone after the pocket collapsed in what would have been a touchdown had the officiating crew not called it back.
This was considered a rarity in last year’s pro-style offense.
“I’m excited because on that play they covered it up pretty well and things broke down and I was able to take off up the middle,” Carr said. “It probably would have been a touchdown. I’m kind of excited to take off and run a little bit.”
Though today’s scrimmage seemed lopsided, DeRuyter insisted that today’s scrimmage was not indicative of the team’s competitiveness in training camp.
“It’s gone back and forth, to be honest,” said DeRuyter. “Some drills the offense looks better, some the defense looks better and I expected it to be that way this afternoon.”
“We didn’t execute enough times on offense and we’ve got to get that straightened out.”
As the team concluded its 11th practice of fall camp, consistency remains an element the team hopes to find in time for the season opener.
“Today, for some reason, we just didn’t execute in the red zone, so we’ve got to work on that,” Carr said. “First-half field goals usually don’t win you games, so we’ve got to score some touchdowns in the red zone.”
The team escaped the scrimmage without injury except for senior offensive lineman Matt Hunt, who left early in the game. DeRuyter said he would be monitored on a day-to-day basis.