Fresno State wide out Delvon Hardaway and defensive end Todd Hunt are scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday and will be out for the remainder of the spring.
Hardaway has a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in a knee, will likely miss the start of the season and with a tentative rehab of six months could return in mid- to late September.
“Unfortunately, we got a little bit of bad news with Delvon having a knee injury,” coach Tim DeRuyter said Monday. “We think he’ll be out about six months so it will be that first month of the season that he’ll be back. Hopefully, he’ll be back to full speed by then, but we fully anticipate he’ll be playing ... this season and hopefully it will be early.”
Hunt, who has a torn ligament in his left hand, will be out about three to four months.
“Todd got some ligament damage in a finger last week in a scrimmage,” DeRuyter said. “He competed the entire scrimmage — didn’t even realize it was an issue until afterward. But he’ll get that thing repaired, which will put him out a couple of months. He’ll still be able to run and lift and do some things, so he should be fine and ready to go within three or four months.”
Hardaway, who caught 23 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns last season as a redshirt freshman, was expected to emerge from the spring as a starter outside.
Hunt is the Bulldogs’ most experienced end, having started all 14 games a year ago when making 54 tackles including five behind the line of scrimmage and 2.5 sacks.
The Fresno State wideouts made some big plays Monday when the Bulldogs went through the ninth of their 15 spring practices, which included about 45 live scrimmage plays.
They also caught a few passes in there, as well.
The most promising takeaway at this point for outside and inside receivers position groups that struggled last season, though, has been the energy brought to blocking assignments in the run game or on bubble screens and bullet passes to the outside that once were a staple in the offense.
“They’re doing a nice job,” offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said. “It’s something that we’ve emphasized this spring, something that we had to get better at, so we’re spending a lot of time on it with those guys blocking in space. It’s good. It’s one of the things we did really well the first two years and not as well last year. When we went back and looked at last year and, OK, what we have to do, well, we have to get back to basics and do our base stuff, and that’s one of our base deals.”
Last season, the blocking outside was so inconsistent that late in the year the staff went away from the quick passes to the outside, which serve as an extension of the running game. The Bulldogs were not proficient throwing the ball and they did not block it well at all — two reasons they ranked last of 12 in the Mountain West Conference and tied for 116th of 128 in the bowl subdivision in yards per passing attempt at 5.9 yards per play.
In 2013, when the Bulldogs had quarterback Derek Carr and a trio of 1,000-yard receivers in Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse and Josh Harper, any of them could take a bullet pass and with one strong block on a cornerback or a safety turn it into a long touchdown.
And in Monday’s scrimmage, Justin Johnson caught a short pass from Zack Greenlee, broke a tackle and went 65 yards for a score with the help of a downfield block by Darrell Fuery; Keyan Williams had a nice gain on a quick pass with blocks from Fuery and tight end David Tangipa; Kilton Anderson hit Michael Martens for 15 yards, getting a nice block from Jordan Washington on the outside; and in a red zone period freshman Chason Virgil scrambled from the pocket and into the end zone with an assist from a strong block by KeeSean Johnson on cornerback Malcolm Washington.
“They don’t all need to be touchdowns,” Schramm said. “It’s 5 yards. (The bubbles and bullets) are really part of our run game, so it has been good. Those guys are getting after it and they’re taking pride in it, and that’s the most important thing, that they block for each other and they take pride in it.”
Said DeRuyter: “That’s what is impressive to see. They’re growing up. They’re being held to a standard and they’re living up to it. For our offense to go, those guys have got to be playmakers and they have to block on the perimeter and if they don’t do both of those things we don’t go very well.”
All three of the quarterbacks made highlight-type throws during the scrimmage.
• For Greenlee, it was a 53-yard strike up the right sideline to Aaron Peck, who got a step on corner Jamal Ellis.
• For Anderson, it was a quick shot to Williams that turned into a 25-yard gain.
• For Virgil, it was a back shoulder throw on the left sideline to Johnson, with the receiver fending off tight coverage with one arm and making the catch with the other.
“They made some plays. They did some stuff they should have done. They’re going to do that,” Schramm said. “But we learn from the tape — we get in there and look and ask them, ‘Tell me why you did this. Tell me what you saw. Were you sure about what you were doing here? Because it looks like you’re kind of guessing here what the defense might do.’
“Like I’ve said a million times, that’s why it’s great going against our defense because they give you so many different looks and so many different disguises, you think you might be seeing one thing before the snap but it ends up being something completely different so you better be able to read on the run and be able to play. At times we did that well today and at times we didn’t, so we just have to keep working to get better.”
• The defense and special teams turned in some solid plays, including a scoop and score fumble return by safety Dalen Jones and a blocked field goal return for a touchdown by linebacker George Helmuth (Clovis North).