Fresno State went through its penultimate practice of spring football Friday and a good portion was spent on … how to practice.
The idea there, for coach Jeff Tedford and his staff, is to make sure players have the tools to build on what has been a productive month and to ensure gains do not melt away in the summer heat when for the most part they are working on their own.
“Why we were in just helmets is (showing them) how we can practice through the summer without banging,” Tedford said. “We can still run to the ball. We can still do good things without having to bang each other. I have faith that they will try to work on those things and we’ll be around enough to know.
Fresno State will conclude its 15 spring practices Saturday with its Spring Showcase, featuring a live scrimmage. Fans can meet players and coaches after the scrimmage and three fans will be invited to participate in drills selected by coach Jeff Tedford. The practice is to start at 10:30 a.m.
“But we went through the things that we need to be practicing, the one-on-ones, even blitz pickup. We did blitz pickup, which is always hard to do without pads on. They have to work together with that. They can still have good fundamentals and technique. They can’t bull-rush each other, try to run people over, they have to try to move their feet and practice smart that way. That’s what (Friday) was all about.”
Tedford and his staff had them in drills to highlight that within position groups and offense against defense – the receivers running routes against corners and safeties, the backs and tight ends taking on linebackers, the O-line up against the D-line.
Fresno State will end its spring Saturday with its Spring Showcase, a third situational scrimmage that will be open to the public. Admission and parking are free for the practice, which is scheduled to start at 10:30 a.m. with individual and team drills.
After that, the Bulldogs will have individual evaluation meetings with Tedford starting next week and get through final exams in their classes in in mid-May. There is a NCAA discretionary period where there are no required workouts, and then in June they will start a strength-and-conditioning program leading into fall camp.
But there will also be some football in there, with players working on their own, and there are indications the approach will be more diligent than it has been. Those workouts have lost some dynamism year by year since former then-quarterback Derek Carr was leading a group that included wideouts Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse and that season won a second consecutive Mountain West Conference championship.
I feel like as a team, we trust each other more and it's bringing us closer and making us stronger.
Fresno State cornerback Tank Kelly
“I feel like as a team, we trust each other more and it’s bringing us closer and making us stronger,” cornerback Tank Kelly said. “Knowing that my brothers trust me makes me trust them the same way. We all have the same relationship. If we see someone fall, we pick them up. If someone is having a problem, we help them. If someone needs a ride to class, we help them. We want to do everything we can to stay a team as much as we can. That will help us grow on the field and off the field.”
Coming out of the spring and off a 1-11 season, they need to keep going. One of the goals this spring was to set a standard, particularly for defensive coordinator Orlondo Steinauer. There are steps to that process, as it turns out.
“I think we’re well on our way to do that,” Tedford said. “I don’t think we’re there 100 percent, but I think we made a lot of progress. It’s just a consistency, doing it on a consistent basis and understanding running to the football is an all-the-time thing not an every other play thing or tackling fundamentals we need to be focused on what we’re doing there.
“I feel good about the progress that we’ve made throughout spring ball. Hopefully (Saturday) we’re able to put to use all of the fundamentals and techniques that we’ve taught each day in practice and cut loose and have some fun.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada