Fresno State ended its football season with a 3-9 record, the fewest wins since a 3-8 season in 1978 and the most losses since a 4-9 season in 2011, and changes are on the way.
After the game, after the press conference, coach Tim DeRuyter stood in a hallway on the first floor of the Duncan Building; exit the locker room, turn left, turn right. A player would walk by and he had a message for each one. David Patterson. Aaron Mitchell. Kyle Hendrickson, the redshirt freshman defensive end who had injured his left knee in the fourth quarter of that season-ending loss to Colorado State, hobbled by on crutches, which he was having some difficulty getting used to. DeRuyter helped him down the hall and held open the door, then returned to a conversation about flipping the switch and moving on and sometime after Bulldogs’ awards banquet on Sunday afternoon it was done.
The Bulldogs’ coach was to hit the recruiting road Monday morning to find players and a new offensive coordinator to replace Dave Schramm, who will not be retained after a season in which they played four quarterbacks and made six changes at the position due to injury and ineffective play. An official announcement is expected Monday.
Right now, I’ve been given our offense the charge that we’re still going to be a spread offense. That’s the way we’re built, so we’re going to continue to look for players in that mode. We know some of the holes we need to fill. We’re always going to sign a freshman quarterback and we’re going to move on looking for a new offensive coordinator that will fit in what we’re looking for.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter
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To both, DeRuyter said they would hire a coordinator with a background in spread offenses and be looking to sign players that fit a system that worked very well for the Bulldogs for two seasons, well enough for one and not well at all this season.
“Right now, I’ve been given our offense the charge that we’re still going to be a spread offense,” he said. “That’s the way we’re built, so we’re going to continue to look for players in that mode. We know some of the holes we need to fill. We’re always going to sign a freshman quarterback and we’re going to move on looking for a new offensive coordinator that will fit in what we’re looking for.”
The next three weeks, leading up to the mid-year signing period for junior college prospects, will be critical. A lack of execution hurt the Bulldogs this season, but in many games they did not match up well physically with teams that were bigger, stronger. The Bulldogs this season ranked 11th of 12 in the Mountain West Conference in rushing offense (136.8 ypg) and rushing defense (234.7), were last in tackles for loss allowed (105.0) and ninth in tackles for loss (65.0).
The offensive line is a prime area of concern, losing three senior starters in center Bo Bonnheim and tackles Alex Fifita and Justin Northern. The numbers in the position group are way down again – there are only eight scholarship players set to return, after Art Gomez, Bobby Johnson, Ben Simonds and Jacob Hicks from the 2014 recruiting class left the program in the past year. There were five offensive linemen in that class, which was supposed to be the base in rebuilding the position group, but only one player, Mitchell, remains in the program. The defensive line and inside linebacker positions also are an area junior college players could come in and make an immediate impact.
3-9Fresno State’s record in 2015, the fewest wins in a season for the Bulldogs since 1978
“There are a few things,” DeRuyter said. “Our receivers are young; they have to grow up and get thicker. We’ve got some young backs that we like, but we’re going to bring in some backs that we like. Up front, we’re going to look to the junior college ranks to bring in some competition so that plan is not going to change. We may try to be a little more multiple so that might mean we bring in another tight end.
“We still want an athletic quarterback, but in our plan we may sign an extra tight end so hopefully you can run the ball better in case you get knocked down with some quarterbacks. That will be something that will be in discussions with our new offensive coordinator.”
DeRuyter said there is no timetable to make a hire, but he will be working on it while out recruiting. The contact period, when coaches are permitted six off-campus contacts with recruits, started on Sunday. There is a month-long dead period between Dec. 14 and Jan. 13, 2016.
“There are times during the day when you’re in homes and in schools and there are times during the day where you can make some schools and we’re going to have plenty of people reach out,” he said.
“It’s going to be multiple, but someone who knows how to run a spread attack, use the quarterback run game as well as throw game and energize our offense.”
Award winners – The Bulldogs held their football banquet Sunday afternoon and outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine, running back Marteze Waller and punter Garrett Swanson were honored as the defensive, offensive and special teams players of the year.
Ederaine led Fresno State with 99 tackles, including 16.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. He came within 1.5 TFLs of tying the conference career record of 47.5 set by former San Diego State linebacker Miles Burriss. Waller rushed for 920 yards and five touchdowns and finished his career ranked No. 4 on the Bulldogs’ all-time rushing list with 3,108 yards. Swanson averaged 42.2 yards on 67 kicks with 18 downed inside the 20-yard line and 27 fair catches.
Senior linebacker Kyrian Obidiegwu earned the Bulldogs’ Overachiever Award; freshman running back Dejonte O’Neal, a Bullard High grad, won the weight room award; freshman quarterback Jesse Hanckel was the offensive scout team player of the year; senior linebacker Jaamal Rose, who had surgery on both knees during his career, was the defensive scout team player of the year award; junior cornerback Daquawn Brown was the special teams scout team player of the year; senior left tackle Alex Fifita was selected as the outstanding offensive lineman; and senior defensive end Todd Hunt was selected as the outstanding defensive lineman.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada