Delvon Hardaway was on the football field for 18 plays at USC and for 20 at Utah, all fairly uneventful.
Fresno State's redshirt freshman wideout caught one pass for 11 yards late in the third quarter of a opening blowout loss to the Trojans, the score already as it would end, 52-13. So expectations weren't too high even by the third game of the season against Nebraska.
Get in there when called and get some experience; block on the outside, read some coverages on the fly, run routes and maybe, just maybe, catch another pass.
Hardaway did that, but grabbed attention, taking in a short pass from Brian Burrell and heading to the end zone for a 9-yard score.
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"I didn't expect that to happen," he said. "I expected to get some experience and just help the team. I didn't expect to score. That was a shock when it came. It was a heart-rushing experience. I kind of just sprinted across the end zone. It was a little different than what I expected, actually."
Those expectations are changing quickly, though, with the Bulldogs looking for playmakers in the outside receiving corps to complement senior Josh Harper.
It is not an experienced group -- junior Aaron Peck has played inside and outside, Da'Mari Scott is a sophomore, Hardaway and Darrell Fuery are redshirt freshmen -- and the impacts in games have been minimal with one more nonconference opponent on the schedule, Southern Utah at 7 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium.
Harper has 21 receptions in three games; Peck (eight), Hardaway (five) and Scott (three) have 16 combined.
"Delvon Hardaway made his reps count the other night," said Ron Antoine, who coaches the outside receivers group. "Obviously, when he hit the field you could see the kid was excited to play and he kind of showed everybody what we've seen him do in practice. Now, we saw it in a game.
"He is going to have an opportunity to play more, but he's got to earn it each day obviously. When he gets an opportunity in a game, we want to see that same speed and that same energy he brought against Nebraska and that he brings to practice out there on game day. As long as we see that, I think we'll see him build on it from game to game. He'll be confident. He'll see the coverages faster. He knows the plays -- Hardaway is a smart guy, he picks it up real quick and not just our offense but what the defense is doing as well. That's what I expect from him, to keep building on it."
That is key within the young group. The Bulldogs are prodding to get more there.
Hardaway knows it.
"I show flashes where I'm making good plays and I show flashes where it's like, 'Wow, what was that?' " he said. "I know that, and the coaches tell me. That's the biggest thing, just being more consistent and taking what I see in the game and being able to implement it on the practice field and vice versa."
Coach Tim DeRuyter concedes there are openings, with "nothing locked in stone, other than Harp."
"Harp has been a solid guy for us and a veteran who is a leader," DeRuyter said. "But the other receiving positions right now, we're trying to find out when the lights go on and you're going against real competition, who is going to make the plays and who is going to be consistent. He has got to continue to work on his blocking, but catching the ball and having a feel in space for where to go, he's getting much better at that.
"All four of these (nonconference) games, you're looking at who are the guys that you plan to go with once the league starts and, again, there's only so many things you can see in practice. You see a guy's work ethic and knowledge of the offense. But to make plays against opponents is a critical evaluation factor and in his limited reps he has flashed."
If Hardaway continues to progress, he could provide the Bulldogs with a deep threat they have been lacking. That part of their game is one of several under development -- they have just seven explosive pass plays of 20 or more yards in the first three games and are averaging 5.1 yards per pass play, tied with Hawaii for the lowest in the Mountain West Conference.
But he could have covered a lot of ground with that 9-yard sprint into the end zone.
"We're a young group. Josh is our leader and Aaron has been here and made plays, and the rest of us are young. Me, I'm a redshirt freshman. Da'Mari is a sophomore. Fuery is a redshirt freshman. And then we have the rest of the walk-on guys and the other redshirts, so what we're doing is getting that game experience," Hardaway said. "Practice is good, for us to practice and do good things, but it's totally different in the game so by having Josh telling us what to do and how to do things, and having Coach (Ron) Antoine, it's just good for us to get on the field and see it ourselves.
"After playing in the game, you know exactly what it's like without the coaches being able to be behind you and telling you what you have to do on this play. You have to see it and go out there and do it. It was definitely good for me to go out there and get that experience."