Fresno State, which opens the season on Aug. 29 at Bulldog Stadium against Rutgers, is making headway in the pending position battles at quarterback and running back this week in fall camp practices. Dalton Runberg / Collegian file photo.
Efficiency was on Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter’s mind on Monday – when the Bulldogs held their third two-a-day practice of fall camp after having their first off day on Sunday.
The morning practice featured two live periods: goal line and overtime. The afternoon practice was situational as the team focused on third down and red zone plays.
“I think we competed pretty good,” DeRuyter said. “Once you get nine, ten, eleven days into camp, you’re going to have a little bit of ebb and flow. Our guys were business-like in the morning and had a little more juice this afternoon.”
DeRuyter focused on making sure the backups vying for a spot on the two-deep depth chart were polished on Monday.
“Those guys have to get better,” he said. “They’ve got to learn our playbook. We’ve got to have guys that you have faith in; when the starter goes down, the backup goes in and there’s not a big drop off.
“We’re not there in some positions yet, but this week we’ll continue that competition and see where we’re at.”
Finding starting quarterback Derek Carr’s backup has been no easy task. Brian Burrell is leading the competition, but his position is not solidified. In this morning’s 7-on-7 practice, Burrell threw an interception to cornerback Curtis Riley and nearly had a second pick by L.J. Jones.
Despite those miscues, DeRuyter feels that there’s progress.
“We need some more time to where I feel more comfortable [with him],” he said.
The efficiency will remain at the running back position despite Robbie Rouse’s absence – as long as running backs coach Joe Wade has a say in it.
Josh Quezada, T.J. Thomas and Dontel James rejoined Marteze Waller and Malique Micenheimer on Monday after sitting out Saturday’s scrimmage – Fresno State’s first of fall camp.
“I have high expectations for them,” Wade said. “Robbie was a great player here but the expectations of the position don’t change.”
Production is key for the running backs heading into the season, and Wade does not want the pressure to be on replacing their marquee running back of 2012. Instead, the objective is simple: win.
“I feel like we have several guys who have that potential,” Wade said. “We won’t know exactly who it’s going to be and all that. I’m not really all that worried. I think we’ve recruited well and we have some good players.
“We’ll see where the chips fall when the lights come on for real.”