Back in the spring, Fresno State first scrimmage went much like the the first one of fall the other day.
The offense made plays in the running and passing games. It put points on the scoreboard. It made it look simple, and to a degree it was. The defense played it very vanilla, didn’t throw much at them, and the offense took advantage.
But in the second spring scrimmage, the defense made the going much more difficult, mixing coverages and blitzes and displaying a different zeal, and coach Jeff Tedford said that is the way it will be Saturday at Bulldog Stadium when they get after it again.
“There’s more stuff that we’ve installed defensively, so there will be different coverage variations and different blitzes and so on and so forth,” said Tedford, who meanwhile also still is awaiting the arrival of transfer quarterback Marcus McMaryion.
They're going to throw some things out there. They're going to get us with a couple of things. But how can we handle that adversity? And I think if we handle it right we'll be OK. When they throw their punch, we'll throw one back.
Fresno State quarterback Chason Virgil
“It’s not just a test for the quarterback it’s a test for pass protection,” Tedford said, “blocking for the run, making sure our assignments are down. Last time, there were a few things in there, but (Saturday) it will be can you put the mental and the physical together.”
The offense did not react particularly well back in the spring, but quarterback Chason Virgil, with a few more months in the offense and a greater comfort level in it, is looking forward to the challenges he and the offense will be presented.
“They’re going to come out overly aggressive just because of what happened the first scrimmage,” Virgil said. “It’s going to be a more competitive scrimmage. I think the biggest thing for us is how we handle adversity on the offensive end.
“They’re going to throw some things out there. They’re going to get us with a couple of things. But how can we handle that adversity? And I think if we handle it right we’ll be OK. When they throw their punch, we’ll throw one back.”
Virgil noted that the Bulldogs have faced a lot adversity, coming off a 1-11 season in which they ranked last in the Mountain West Conference and 125th of 128 in the nation in scoring offense at 17.7 points per game.
Even (Friday) in practice the defense threw a few different things at us that we'll have to talk about before the scrimmage.
Fresno State offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer
But used to it or not this will be a much more telling test, three weeks out from a Sept. 2 season opener against Incarnate Word. The session is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and like other practices is closed. (There will be a public scrimmage during Fan Appreciation Day on Aug. 19).
“Even (Friday) in practice the defense threw a few different things at us that we’ll have to talk about before the scrimmage,” offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer said.
“It’s a little bit of, ‘You work your install, they work theirs, and you have to get in a matchup every once in a while.’ “
The Bulldogs, Virgil feels, are well prepared and in a much better place than they were during spring ball.
“I feel better with where we are as a team just from the competitiveness between us,” he said. “For me to even say, ‘Oh, we know the defense is going to come after us,’ that’s good just because they have that competitive nature.
“And they know we’re going to throw something back. They’re not going to just dominate us the whole time. It’s going to be great. It’s almost going to be like a game, because that’s how competitive we are. We just love going at it with each other.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Fresno State 2017 schedule
Home games at Bulldog Stadium
Sept. 2 vs. Incarnate Word, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 at Alabama, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Sept. 16 at Washington, 6:30 p.m. (Pac-12)
Sept. 30 vs. Nevada, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 at San Jose State, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN3)
Oct. 14 vs. New Mexico, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 at San Diego State. 7:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Oct. 28 vs. UNLV, 7 p.m.
Nov. 4 vs. Brigham Young, TBA (ESPN networks)
Nov. 11 at Hawaii. 8 p.m.
Nov. 18 at Wyoming, 11 or 11:30 a.m.
Nov. 25 vs. Boise State, 12:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
Other key dates
Saturday: Scrimmage 2
Saturday, Aug. 19: Scrimmage 3/Fan Appreciation Day (open to public)
Tuesday, Aug. 22: Classes start