It might not be the exact role that quarterback Brandon Connette envisioned after an offseason transfer to Fresno State.
But the senior knows the role well and has excelled at it. Perhaps most importantly, Connette appears to have accepted his assignment after the Bulldogs coaching staff ended a two-man platoon and went with Brian Burrell as the starter.
Connette is still far more than the typical backup, used in a similar fashion as he was for the majority of his career at Duke in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
It allows Fresno State (3-3, 2-0 Mountain West) to take advantage of the 6-foot-2, 213-pounder's power running style and deliver an offensive change of pace. His entry into games seems to give the Bulldogs a spark each time.
"You can tell he's done it before," offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said.
"He's eager. He wants to compete. But we made the decision on who our starting quarterback is right now. And so right now, we're going to try to find ways for him, or any player, to help us."
Schramm also was quick to point out that Connette isn't limited to short-yardage runs, though the numbers say that is his forte.
At Duke, Connette set the school's career rushing touchdown record with 31 in 39 games.
But he also passed for 1,212 yards and 13 touchdowns, with just two interceptions, for Duke last season.
Connette's knowledge of and ability to execute Fresno State's playbook lagged behind Burrell in fall camp. And a hand injury suffered during the second game of the season further hampered Connette's chances of winning the starting job.
He missed one game and sat out parts of two others because of the injury, though when he was playing Connette continued to alternate series with Burrell. By the fifth game, Fresno State had named its full-time starter.
Burrell has completed 103 of 181 passes (56.9%) for 1,031 yards and eight touchdowns against four interceptions and rushed for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Connette is 29 of 53 (54.7%) for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He has rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
"I feel good physically," Connette said this week. "Any time I have a chance to get on the field, it's fun. I feel good. Brian is playing well. When he's had the chance to start, he took advantage of it. He's playing well right now. So you don't fix what's not broken. We're just going to keep rolling with that.
"I love having the ability to extend drives just by getting 1, 2 yards. Whatever it may be. It's something that I look forward to, and I take it as a challenge every time."
Connette contributed to two touchdown drives last week during a 24-13 win against San Diego State, including a 1-yard scoring run on fourth down the first time he entered the game. It was Fresno State's first touchdown of the first quarter this season.
He re-entered midway through the third quarter at the start of a possession at the Bulldogs 19.
Like the first time Connette touched the ball, Fresno State operated out of a "jumbo" set with offensive lineman Josh Tremblay as a blocking tight end and nose guard Ioane Sagapolu or linebacker Jeff Camilli as a blocking back for the run-heavy formation.
And run is exactly what the Bulldogs did as Connette rushed five straight times, on what looked like the same play, for 44 yards to begin the drive. Connette had a 34-yard burst on the second play.
Four San Diego State penalties helped extend the possession and the Bulldogs scored on Josh Quezada's 2-yard run on a handoff from Burrell.
"One of the things that's fun for me is when you get into those big jumbo packages — the defense knows what you're going to do and you know what you're going to do," Connette said. "And so it's just who wants it more? Who's got more will for it? Every once in a while, you pull out a play-action pass to catch them off guard. It's fun.
"I feel comfortable with the offense. There's still little things I'm learning every single day. Just trying to improve on as far as where my eyes need to go and how quickly they get there. I'm working hard at it and I'm feeling comfortable."FRESNO STATE AT UNLV
Vitals: 7 p.m. Friday at Sam Boyd Stadium
Records: Bulldogs 3-3 (2-0 MW); Rebels 1-5 (0-2 MW)
Radio: KFIG (AM 940); KGST (AM 1600)