Running back Malique Micenheimer admitted it really hurt not to be able help Fresno State last fall after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury against Nebraska.
“I was down for a second,” said the former McNair High star from Stockton. “But I was thinking, how can I benefit (from the injury)?
“It was more of a learning mentality — helping the young guys learn. I spend a lot of time with Marteze (Waller) watching film and just getting better.”
Micenheimer still thinks about the what-ifs because he wanted to help the seniors go out the right way. After all, Micenheimer was a senior as well. He was granted a medial hardship waiver after the injury in the third game of the season. He finished with one rush for minus-2 yards and seven catches for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Micenheimer is relishing the opportunity to get back on the field and said he felt pretty good after spring practice No. 8 Saturday.
“Rehab is going good,” he said. “So far, so good.”
Even Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter liked what he’s seen from Micenheimer, who is starting to do some individual drills.
“With his injury, we will not do any contact with him,” DeRuyter said. “We know Malique is a great physical player so we’re not worried about that. We just want to get him 100 percent healthy by August.”
When Micenheimer, listed at 6-foot-1 and 239 pounds, gets all the way back, DeRutyer has two plans for him in mind.
“He gives us an opportunity for two-back sets. He’s also a really good third-down back for us. He’s got some versatility there,” DeRuyter said. “We want to make sure not just strength-wise but structurally he is in place, and you’re not taking chances there, so we can get him through the whole year.”
Progress with receivers
Through eight spring practices, receivers coach Joe Wade likes what his group is doing, even though most are freshmen.
“The most important thing: They took the challenges they got,” Wade said.
Aaron Peck, Justin Johnson and Delvon Hardaway are the only returnees. Peck and Johnson each played 14 games; Peck with 32 catches for 419 yards and three touchdowns, and Johnson with eight catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Wade is hoping someone emerges, but for now he wants the receivers to continue to compete on every down while sharpening their routes.
“It’s challenging to be a receiver on this offense. High speed, there’s a lot of running. Still to be technically sound and do that is a challenge,” Wade said. “On a day-to-day basis, trying to be technically sound and playing fast and doing all that running — that’s a lot of challenge.”
Offense takes step
The Bulldogs worked on situational drills Satuday ... and this time the offense had the upper-hand, DeRuyter said.
“A lot of guys are making plays,” DeRuyter said. “(Tight end) Chad Olsen I thought was catching the ball well. The quarterbacks did some good things. (Receiver) Jamire Jordan out on the perimeter in space is really a difference-maker speed wise and (tailback) Chris Moliga did some good things running the ball today. Defensively, we’ve got to tackle better.”
Fresno State drilled second- and third-down plays along with some red-zone work, and also on sustaining drives between the 35-yard lines.
“I like the way our guys compete,” DeRuyter said. “I think all three quarterbacks are competing. We’ve got skill guys who are making plays in space and we have defensive guys who are playing physical. So anytime you have that, one day the offense may be up, the defense another day — and that’s what you want when you have competition.”
Safety Dalen Jones capped off practice with a big hit and pass breakup on a ball that was in Olsen’s hands.
• Monday's practice will include the second of three scheduled scrimmages this spring. Spring ball wraps up the following week, capped by the March 28 Spring Showcase.