Everything is still new for Malcolm Washington.
That’s understandable for the sophomore defensive back from Houston, even after finishing his first year with 37 tackles and three pass deflections while playing in all 14 games for Fresno State.
Washington made seven starts, including each of the last six games in 2014, but said at Friday’s spring practice that he is still learning, in coach-speak, the “install” of defensive plays that the staff is implementing this spring.
“It’s basically the same but you always learn something new,” said the 6-foot-2 Washington, who prepped at Alief Elsik High. “Whether you think you know it or you really don’t, I’m learning something new every day.”
As that process continues, he’s also accepting the challenge to pick up on techniques that could further his career or that he can pass on to improve the team’s fortunes coming off a 6-8 campaign.
“Always good to learn something else so that way you can teach it to somebody who don’t know it,” he said. “As in teammates who don’t know it and want to know it as corners and that didn’t play last year. It’s always good to learn something new.”
Offense sees some improvement
Coach Tim DeRuyter is stressing consistency, particularly on offense as the team tries to sort through its quarterback depth chart.
There was progress but room for improvement always remains, offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said, a year after the Bulldogs threw 21 interceptions, lost six fumbles and were minus-7 in turnover margin to rank 103rd nationally.
“What we can’t do is be sloppy with the football,” Schramm said, “… make sure we’re taking care of the football. The defense is doing a good job, and it helps us a lot (to learn) when they’re raking or stripping the ball out, and we have to do a better job holding it.”
There were miscues, most notably some missed handoff exchanges among the quarterback group of sophomore Zack Greenlee, redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson and true freshman Chason Virgil. Of course, there’s another player involved in those handoffs, generally a running back, but Schramm said the blame goes to whomever is taking the snap.
“We have to clean that up, but that’s on the quarterback … always,” Schramm said. “But they’re doing good. Working hard. They’re starting to understand what we’re trying to do. We’re going to have a little bit of sloppiness when that goes on, but the guys are kind of figuring out a little bit. We just have to keep working.”
Schramm said he’s seen some improvement from day one of spring ball, which began March 2.
Downfield blocking has gotten better, Schramm said. He also was pleased Friday to see the quarterbacks avoid interceptions, even if that meant throwing the ball away.
“We’re doing a decent job with that,” he said. “but we have to focus on the basic fundamentals of football, and that’s No. 1 for us — taking care of the ball. All that stuff that comes into play early in camp … we just gotta do the little things right.
“Our receivers are doing a better job blocking out. Our quarterbacks, when they get fooled by the secondary, by disguise … we’re just not throwing the ball to the defense. We’re throwing it away. We’re getting better at that. We have to play faster. We’re not playing fast enough right now, but I think the guys are working hard and I think that’s the most important part.”
Situation for Saturday
DeRuyter said the Bulldogs will work out of some situational periods today, with practice No. 8 of 15 this spring scheduled for 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The workouts are closed to the public.
There will be a red-zone period and the team also will work on second-down plays. DeRuyter wants to see how his team reacts in potentially tricky down-and-distance scenarios such as second-and-8 or second-and 6.
“However it plays out,” DeRuyter said. “We want our guys to understand situational football. Any time when you get live periods, there’s no, ‘Hey, I would’ve had him.’ Either you dId or didn’t; we want to see guys that can make plays and guys (on offense) who can make guys miss and guys who can tackle in space.”