Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter scaled back considerably the Bulldogs’ practice plan Wednesday, switching to a usual morning of position and team meetings and a brief walkthrough from the full-bore session in full pads that had been on the fall camp schedule.
The Bulldogs will return to regular scheduled programming on Thursday with a double-day session that will end with their first scrimmage of fall camp, in full view of the public, at 6 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium, and perhaps it is better to have their legs under them, their wits about them and their focus clear, particularly the quarterbacks competing for the starting job.
DeRuyter said all four in camp – redshirt sophomore Zack Greenlee, redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson, freshman Chason Virgil and junior transfer Ford Childress – will get reps with the first two groups.
And it is a chance to show DeRuyter and the coaching staff some growth and mastery of the up-tempo spread offense now 138 days removed from spring practices and eight days into fall camp, particularly for Greenlee, who went into the fray a bit ahead by virtue of his experience, albeit that amounting to only 41 passes over three games last season.
Greenlee was held out of team periods the past few practices due to a minor quad tweak but he practiced Tuesday and made one of the better plays to this point in camp, executing against a blitz and dropping a pass up the left sideline perfectly into the hands of redshirt freshman KeeSean Johnson.
“He has to go out and prove to his teammates and to his coaches that he is the guy,” DeRuyter said.
He has got the most reps in the system. He has the physical tools to do it.
Coach Tim DeRuyter on QB Zack Greenlee
“The good news is that he has some really good competition behind him, pushing him, which is going to keep him going forward, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
Virgil, the freshman who graduated early from high school to enroll at Fresno State and participate in spring practices, appeared to have moved forward through the first seven practices.
Anderson has some work to do to pull even and Childress, who started his career at West Virginia, is working to catch up with the Bulldogs offense.
“Ideally, somebody separates from the pack, but as we’ve come out to practice, nobody has been perfect; every guy has shown flashes of doing some really good things,” DeRuyter said. “I think it will be interesting once we have some situations where there will be an extended period where it is live, not on the quarterbacks, but on everybody else. Who is leading the team? Who is consistent? When adversity hits, how do they handle it? Those kind of situations will be revealing.”
The scrimmage, also, may allow the Bulldogs to start shaping their depth at a number of positions.
The scrimmage could go a long ways toward determining depth at the cornerback and inside and outside receiver groups.
The cornerback positions have been set back with senior Charles Washington and sophomore Malcolm Washington limited this week, but junior Jamal Ellis can solidify his standing in the group and redshirt freshman Anthoula (Tank) Kelly, freshman Mike Bell and junior college transfer Tyquwan Glass can take advantage of additional reps and move up.
The inside and outside receiver positions also have been well contested during the first seven practices.
Senior Aaron Peck has had a strong camp, making plays in every practice. Johnson, the redshirt freshman, has flashed. Freshman L.J. Reed, a big target at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, also has made an impression. Inside, senior Justin Johnson and redshirt freshman Keyan Williams have been solid, and redshirt freshman Jamire Jordan can give the Bulldogs a different dimension with his sprinters’ speed.
In a team period Monday, Jordan blew the top off the defense, catching a deep ball well down field and 8 to 10 yards clear of the nearest defender.
’Dogs in camp
Camp highlights leading up to the Sept. 3 season opener against Abilene Christian at Bulldog Stadium:
- Thursday, Aug. 13: Practice No. 10, 6-8 p.m. (scrimmage No. 1; only practice open to the public)
- Thursday, Aug. 20: Practice No. 18 (scrimmage No. 2)
- Monday, Aug. 24: Practice No. 21 (scrimmage No. 3)
- Wednesday, Sept. 2: Practice No. 29 (pregame walkthrough)