Jeff Tedford was the offensive coordinator at Fresno State and recruited me out of Stockdale High School in Bakersfield. There’s a lot of history there with the meetings and practices and all that – and for me, knowing Jeff, there couldn’t be a better choice to be the Bulldogs’ football coach right now with where he is in his career and where Fresno State is with its football program.
It’s a perfect fit. Fresno State definitely got it right.
It’s going to be good for the Valley. It’s going to be good for putting people back in the seats at Bulldog Stadium, good for bringing Valley kids back to Fresno State.
There’s something to be said for staying at home to play college football. You can go to a different city. You can play out of state. But it’s not the same as when you’re walking down that ramp at Bulldog Stadium and you see hundreds of your friends and family who love you and want the best for you.
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There’s just something special about playing in your backyard. That’s how you create a special atmosphere. Jeff is definitely going to do that.
On the field, he’s super intense. He’s a guy that pushes you. There are not a lot of guys I would put ahead of him as far as his knowledge of the game and understanding pass concepts and run-game stuff, and then with what he asks you to do. He doesn’t ask you to do something you can’t do. He finds what you’re good at and tailors the system to that. He’s one of the best at that.
Off the field, he couldn’t be cooler. There are so many coaches who only know the X’s and O’s and can’t even carry on a conversation with you, but Jeff has never been that way. He’s someone who can really sit down with you and before you even start talking about pass concepts or your reads, he will ask you about your life and try to find out what makes you tick.
One of the first times I saw him in Fresno after I signed, he brought out a checker board and we started playing. Soon enough, instead of putting the checkers in the normal positions, he lined them up in a defensive front and then a coverage and we started going through concepts and coverages and reads. I did that same thing with my son two years ago, and it was 20 years since I had done that. But there is something about sitting down and just being able to mentally go through that and move those pieces around. I’m sure he has other tricks to tap into guys and see how they handle things, but it’s pretty cool.
There are not a lot of guys I would put ahead of him as far as his knowledge of the game and understanding pass concepts and run-game stuff, and then with what he asks you to do. He doesn’t ask you to do something you can’t do. He finds what you’re good at and tailors the system to that.
He’s definitely going to do that at Fresno State. The players there now, I think he will come in and just see how they are as athletes, how they move within his system, and he’s going to put those guys in positions to succeed. Some of them will have to change positions – they might not like it initially – but the faster they can buy in the better because this guy has done it at the highest level. He gets it. If they trust it, trust the system, and they all buy into it, they’re going to be fine.
I think there’s going to be a period where he is going to have to get his guys in there. His best coaching job is going to be these next two years, really, while he gets a lot of his guys in and he kind of uses what he has there to make it work. But he’s going to do a great job. He has a lot of resources. He’s going to have a good staff. He’s going to have a tough job for these next two years, but he can make the guys in the program work. He’ll find some diamonds in the rough. From Marshawn Lynch to DeSean Jackson to Aaron Rodgers, he knows how to find good players. He’ll put some guys in positions they probably haven’t played before and he’ll make it work.
My advice to the guys that are there: Buy into this guy. He’s going to push you hard and he’s going to demand a lot, but it’s for you, it’s for the better of the team and it’s going to make you not only a better football player but a better person down the road.
And they don’t have to wait a year or two. They can go out and surprise some people because for the most part, especially next year, no one is going to know what system he’s going to run.
That would be my advice to the guys that are there: Buy into this guy. He’s going to push you hard and he’s going to demand a lot, but it’s for you, it’s for the better of the team and it’s going to make you not only a better football player but a better person down the road.
Question of the week
From Cindy Harrison: Out of all the positions in football, why did you want to play quarterback and when did you know it was a perfect fit?
I think that God gives us all our own abilities and our own talents. It’s kind of your parents’ job to figure out what those are – that’s the fun part about being a dad. I see it with my boys now, their different personalities and their athletic abilities. It doesn’t even have to be athletic ability. It’s whatever they’re good at naturally, what the Creator has instilled in them.
My dad, when I was younger, he said I could always throw the football pretty well and he loved the game, like a lot of dads do. I remember when I was really little, this is probably around kindergarten or the first grade, we would be watching football on Sunday and my dad would be recording the games and recording the highlights on VHS tape. We would go back and study the mechanics of the different quarterbacks like Dan Marino and John Elway and then we would go out in the backyard with my little brown rubber football. (If I could find that today, I’d be so happy.) But we just did that forever and when the backyard wasn’t big enough we’d go out in the street and we’d throw the football around. All the kids in the neighborhood would see us out there and they’d show up and we’d start playing a street football game – I have a lot of scars on my knees and elbows and back just from playing street football games.
I realized I might be pretty good one day when we were out on the field at Kastner. The coaches there came up to us and they were like, ‘Is your son about to be in the seventh grade?’ My dad said, ‘No, he’s going to be in fifth grade this year,’ and they said, ‘He could be our starting quarterback this year.’
It’s funny because I was in the fifth grade and these guys are junior high coaches, and I thought I had arrived. But that gave me a little more confidence and we just kept working and Derek later on kept working. It just turned out to be the family business.
David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.
Win a football autographed by David Carr
Each week, David will answer one reader’s question in this column – and that lucky reader will receive an NFL autograph football signed by David! Post your question as a comment on the column at www.fresnobee.com/sports/nfl.
Everyone who poses a question to David this season will be entered in a season-ending drawing – and the winner gets a personal appearance with David at a 2017 Fresno-area event!