Fresno State Football

Fresno State QB Brandon Connette makes impact at Utah, but isn't the starter yet (video)

Fresno State may have found its quarterback in Brandon Connette.

But Bulldogs coach Tim DeRuyter wasn't quite ready to anoint either Connette or Brian Burrell as the full-time starter following Fresno State's 59-27 loss to Utah on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

A couple of injuries that Connette suffered Saturday could impact the decision moving forward, too.

Connette, a graduate transfer from Duke, sparked the Bulldogs upon his entry near the end of the first quarter and Fresno State trailing 17-0. On his first series, Connette led Fresno State to its first first down after the offense went three-and-out on its first five drives with Burrell.

Playing all of the second and third quarters, Connette completed 16 of 24 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 40 yards and another score.

Connette also didn't throw an interception after getting picked off three times last week in a 52-13 loss at USC.

"I thought Brandon did some really good things when he came in, did a much better job protecting the ball," DeRuyter said. "Our offense began to move when he came in. When Brian started the game, he was in some tough situations but wasn't able to get the team going.

"We'll look at the tape before making any decisions. I thought Brandon played pretty well at times."

Connette took a shot to his ribs during the third quarter and didn't play in the fourth as a precaution, DeRuyter said. After the game, Connette also had his right (throwing) hand wrapped in ice after taking a hit in the first quarter.

Connette said he would be ready to practice and play next week.

"No, not at all," Connette said when asked if the injuries would cause him to miss time. "Utah hit really hard. They're a very physical defense. But I'm not the only one with some bumps and bruises."

Connette showed a few times he's capable of throwing downfield. He found receiver Josh Harper on a 40-yard pass along the Utah sideline midway through the second quarter for the Bulldogs' first completed deep ball of the season. Three plays later, Connette connected with running back Malique Micenheimer on a 2-yard, play-action rollout pass for Fresno State's first points of the game.

Late in the third quarter, Connette hooked up with receiver Aaron Peck on a post pattern that went for 53 yards. Connette ran in a 1-yard touchdown two plays later.

"We did some positive things, more positive things than we did last week," Connette said. "We moved the ball a lot better. That was one of our goals. We wanted to stay on the field, give the defense a little more of a break -- something we didn't do last week.

"I felt we got a little bit of a rhythm going and put some drives together. We've just got to do it more consistency. ... We've just got to finish more drives in the end zone. It's a good start to start getting more first downs, but we need to score more points than this."

Burrell finished 8 of 16 for 106 yards and two touchdowns, both to Greg Watson during the the fourth quarter against Utah's second-string defense.

Burrell, who was picked off once in the opener, also didn't throw an interception against Utah. The quarterbacks were sacked a combined seven times (Burrell four times and Connette three times).

"At the end, Brian came in and did some things," DeRuyter said. "We realized it was against (Utah's second-string defense), but he did some things at the end.

While Fresno State struggled during its first five drives that totaled a mere 4 yards, DeRuyter said he didn't want to remove Burrell sooner since some of the mistakes were committed by others -- such as negative rushing yards on first downs by the running back, poor blocking on the offensive line and dropped passes. On Fresno State's first five drive, the Bulldogs faced second-down scenarios of 2, 11, 15, 8 and 13 yards.

DeRuyter also said he would've kept Connette in the game in the fourth quarter had he not gotten injured.

"I saw some encouraging things," DeRuyter said, "but clearly not enough to beat a really good Utah team."

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