The quarterback competition at Fresno State is down to three, and Zack Greenlee, Chason Virgil and Ford Childress are well-armed for what lies ahead with plays, tempos, checks, progressions and protections.
Whether they can operate all of the offense that has been installed since the start of fall camp remains to be seen. But coach Tim DeRuyter and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm hope to see some separation in the group today, when the Bulldogs scrimmage for the second time.
That would be the right separation – one taking a forceful step forward ahead of the other two, rather than one remaining essentially in the same spot while the other two falter badly.
“I was hoping for separation when we started camp; I was hoping for separation last spring,” Schramm said. “But it’s a different makeup now. We’ll see what happens. We’re not doing a great job taking care of the football, so we have to do that. We’re throwing far too many interceptions. Got to get the protections checked right. ... So, yeah, we’ll see.
“We have to show improvement. We have to show that we can build on last week’s scrimmage – we have to get better.”
I’m hoping someone separates. But I don’t have a crystal ball. I wish I could tell you who that was going to be.
Fresno State offensive coordinator Dave Schramm on the quarterback competition
The quarterbacks have been inconsistent throughout camp, and after practice Wednesday, the three enter the scrimmage from different angles.
The freshman Virgil had a few rough days in the past week operating the offense when dodging a series of blitzes in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 periods, but he has rebounded nicely. In a 2-minute, end-of-game drill in which the offense was down three points Wednesday, he moved the offense inside the 10-yard line before settling for a field goal. He made a nice throw that Josiah Blandin turned into a 45-yard gain and converted a third and 4 into a first down with a 5-yard run.
Childress, the junior transfer, still is catching up with the offense and consequently has had some bad throwing days. But DeRuyter said Childress is far enough along that he could separate from Greenlee and Virgil, and he will continue to get better as he becomes more comfortable.
In a team period when the offense was running second-down plays into third (they started with a second-and-9 play, then ran third down; ran a second-and-7, then ran third down; ran second-and-5, then ran third down), Childress made a strong throw to tight end Chad Olsen to convert a third and 9 into a first down.
Greenlee, a redshirt sophomore who played in three games last season, including a start against Wyoming, was the leader coming out of the spring based mainly on that experience and had a solid first scrimmage. But he struggled some in practice Wednesday with opportunities to make plays. In the second-down team period, he took a bad sack on his first snap, holding on to the ball too long. He fumbled an exchange with running back Malique Micenheimer on a third-and-1 play. He did make a nice play checking against a blitz on a throw to Blandin, but the receiver dropped the pass.
The question for quarterbacks Zack Greenlee, Ford Childress and Chason Virgil is how well they respond in a live scrimmage against a defense that has added to its arsenal in the week since the first scrimmage and will be throwing a lot at them.
The question for all three is how well they respond in a live scrimmage against a defense that has added to its arsenal in the week since the first scrimmage and will be throwing a lot at them.
Then they must show how well they can back it up four days later when the Bulldogs hold the last of their three fall camp scrimmages Monday – the Sept. 3 opener against Abilene Christian is that close.
“The scrimmage will be big, but every day we’re evaluating – and so it’s: What have you done consistently through camp?” DeRuyter said. “We haven’t had one guy consistently every single day continue to improve.
“Now, there has been up and down from all of them and all of them have flashed at times, but we have to see that consistency, and hopefully someone will separate themselves by being consistent and maybe the other guys go the other way.”
Kickoff is approaching
- Thursday: Scrimmage No. 2 of fall camp
- Monday: Scrimmage No. 3
- Sept. 3: Season opener vs. Abilene Christian at Bulldog Stadium