David White: DeRuyter's on the spot for this rebuild

Special to The BeeDecember 21, 2013 

Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter, left, congratulates USC interim coach Clay Helton after the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday. USC won 45-20 and with the game comes the start of a major retooling for Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter, who must prove he can recruit his own batch of talent to replace what he inherited two years ago from Pat Hill.

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We all know Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter can ball-coach. He has won two Mountain West Conference titles, and that's only because he hasn't been here three years yet.

We also know DeRuyter can motivate talented players. He took the spare parts and labor from a losing hand-me-down team, and has won 20 of 26 games with them.

Now, it's time to see if DeRuyter can win with his own players, and build his own program. Because, as of Saturday's 45-20 humbling by way of USC in the Las Vegas Bowl, DeRuyter has ridden his Pat Hill inheritance about as far as that line of credit travels.

DeRuyter parlayed quarterback Derek Carr -- the hope chest left behind by Grandpa Pat -- into a 2013 season spent in the Top 25. He flipped 19 starters recruited by someone else into an 11-2 season and a flirtatious run at a BCS bowl.

All this was enough to make some Fresno State fans fear DeRuyter would be two-and-through, but he isn't going anywhere. Two humiliating losses in three games has a way of doing that. So does the total lack of better career opportunities in the NCAA Help Wanted ads.

DeRuyter will be back for his junior year of coaching, whether he wanted to or not. He will have to build from scratch for the first time.

Goodbye Carr, off to the NFL to finish dreams that never truly got started for his older brother David. Hello, whoever is going to replace the NCAA's leading passer -- and if you don't know the name of the next in line, it's probably because neither does Fresno State.

Senior receiver Isaiah Burse is flush out of eligibility. Touchdown-maker Davante Adams may leap early into the NFL. So might lead safety Derron Smith, while defensive stalwarts Nikko Motta, Jeremiah Toma and Patrick Su'a are outgoing seniors.

That's a lot of replacing to do atop the leadership chart. Which brings us to the red-flag portion of DeRuyter's résumé.

His teams have won because they play offense at a stupendous level, but DeRuyter has done all his dancing with who Hill brung. Those prom dates are all but gone, and DeRuyter hasn't exactly shown the ability to land a comparable-to on the rebound.

When Robbie Rouse graduated last year, DeRuyter had nothing on deck. His idea of a run game became throw shorter passes on run downs. To say USC shut down the Bulldogs' run game Saturday is like saying the Trojans closed a can that had never been opened.

Fresno State sustained its offensive success under Hill because Paul Pinegar sat under David Carr, who sat under Billy Volek. When Ryan Colburn and Tom Brandstater broke the chain, at least they had Derek Carr in the hole. Now, there is no heir to the quarterback throne, not that we know of, at least.

Of course, the best cure to a transitional offense is a non-negotiable defense, and defense is DeRuyter's dominant skill set. The guy is a defensive coordinator by trade. Think of that when you replay the Las Vegas Bowl. Then, remember the time San Jose State bashed Fresno State's Fiesta Bowl piñata into roadside litter with 62 points and 746 yards.

DeRuyter's defense gave up 40-plus points 1 out of every 3 times out this year. His defense is why the Bulldogs lost in the Las Vegas Bowl, as opposed to getting boat-raced by Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.

He did all he could with Hill's leftovers, and did more than anyone could have imagined. DeRuyter proved he could do a better job with Hill's players than Hill did at the end. Consider his contract extension well earned.

After the game, DeRuyter said he plans to go straight to work. Good, because he has a lot of his own building to do.

The columnist can be reached at bydw@sbcglobal.net or @bydavidwhite on Twitter.

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