Fresno State quarterback James Quentin Davis did not practice Tuesday, held out due to some inflammation in his right shoulder at a time the competitive window in that group is closing.
“It creates more opportunities for Christian (Rossi),” Coach Tim DeRuyter said. “He’s going to get all of those additional reps. We don’t think Quentin’s deal is going to be a long-term deal, but it creates an opportunity. We have four really live arms out here and hopefully Quentin gets back quickly, but Christian is taking advantage of those extra reps.”
Redshirt freshman Chason Virgil, who has the most experience in the Fresno State offense having gone through a spring with offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau, has taken the majority of snaps with the No. 1 offense through the first two weeks of fall camp. But graduate transfer Zach Kline, who started his career at Cal before taking a circuitous route to Fresno State, has been closing.
In the first scrimmage of camp, Virgil completed 8 of 15 passes for 121 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, Kline was 9 of 12 for 69 yards, Rossi was 9 of 13 for 78 yards and one touchdown, and Davis was 2 of 4 for 20 yards with an interception.
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Quarterback Zach Kline participated in spring practices at Cal before heading to Fresno State this summer. In the Golden Bears’ spring game he completed 15 of 16 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
And in the two days and three practices since, Kline has had reps running the No. 1 offense in 7-on-7 as well as team periods. DeRuyter said it is too early yet to trim the competition to two, but the Bulldogs will scrimmage for the second time Saturday and they are expected to come out of it with a clear direction for the final week of camp before starting game prep for a Sept. 3 date at Nebraska.
“I wouldn’t say it’s just those two guys right now,” he said. “Obviously, they’re getting the majority of the reps, but we’re still looking. Nobody has totally separated themselves one way or the other.
“I think those two (Virgil and Kline) are ahead slightly, but after this weekend we’ll probably make some hard decisions that way.”
Backers back in – Inside (Will) linebacker Jeff Camilli got more work after missing some time with a hamstring issue and inside (Mike) linebacker Trent Soechting also is nearing a return. The JC transfer, who also has been down with a hamstring, participated in some individual drills and got some reps in 7-on-7.
In order for him to be where we want him to be for the start of the season we have to start repping him soon.
Inside linebackers coach Nick Toth on Trent Soechting
The difference between the two is Camilli is a senior and playing in his fourth season in the Bulldogs defense and Soechting is a sophomore, with only one spring in him. The reps are critical.
“It definitely set him back,” inside linebacker coach Nick Toth said. “He’s a smart kid. He can pick things up. It’s just the reps and using your fundamentals. You don’t get those reps, it’s hard. We had 114 reps (Tuesday), I think. He missed out on an opportunity to get a third of them or half of them.
“It’s good to see him running around some today, but in order for him to be where we want him to be for the start of the season we have to start repping him soon.”
Meet and greet – The Fresno State athletic department and 940 AM/ESPN are hosting a Meet the Team event Aug. 25 at Campus Pointe.
The football, soccer and cross country teams and their coaches from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. will be signing autographs. Fresno State cheerleaders, the marching band and TimeOut also will attend.
Several restaurants at Campus Pointe will offer specials to fans from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the Fresno State ticket office will be set up with a special 2-for-1 sale for the Bulldogs’ Sept. 10 home football opener against Sacramento State.
Et cetera – Sophomore Logan Hughes continued to get some reps at right tackle with the No. 1 offense – he also is getting in work at left tackle. In the run drill, he replaced junior David Patterson three snaps in and on his first play Dejonte O’Neal went over the right side for a sizable gain.
Patterson, who last season played primarily on special teams and has been the No. 1 right tackle since the spring, returned later in the period with the ones.
▪ The wide outs and defensive backs worked a make-you-miss drill, the receiver catching a pass in space out at the numbers and then trying to evade a tackle.
It is a drill the defensive backs have struggled with in the past, but they handled it well Tuesday.
“I think we’ve got some older guys, some guys that understand leverage,” DeRuyter said. “I think (defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward) does a really good job of talking to our guys and teaching them how to take the space away, step on their toes and keep leverage.
The Bulldogs’ defense has struggled the past three seasons, but ranked second in the Mountain West in tackles for loss in 2013 and fourth in ‘14 before slipping to ninthlast season with 65.0.
“One of the things that he has brought to us, whenever we do thud drills, he grades them obviously on effort, but he talks about loafs and guys not running to the ball and also leverage loafs where you’re running to the ball but not at the proper angle. We’re doing a much better job of taking better angles to the ball.”
▪ Former Clovis High linebacker Tanner Rice made a nice play in 7-on-7, setting up an interception by Virgil. Rice, a freshman walk-on, got a hand up and deflected a pass as he was taking his drop into coverage, the ball caroming to safety Alan Wright.
As has been the case through the spring, an interception costs a quarterback reps and Kline went in with the ones for the next snap.
▪ The Bulldogs on Wednesday will have double-day practices, their last of camp.
▪ DeRuyter on the defense: “I think our defense is starting to play with a swagger. They feel good about where they’re supposed to fit, so they play fast. When they do make a mistake, we usually have two or three guys to make up for it because we have guys playing with confidence and chasing the football, not, ‘Oh, did I step with the wrong foot?’ When you get to that point and you have about 15 to 16 guys at that point, now you have something because you have guys that you can rotate in and keep guys fresh.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada