Fresno State’s Marteze Waller is not participating in contact drills or live scrimmages this spring — the Bulldogs need the running back healthy come the fall, and why take any chances?
But he has run in team periods, playing to a thud, and has added to his explosiveness getting through the line and in the open field coming off a season in which he broke eight plays for 35 or more yards, including a 76-yard touchdown against Boise State.
“We worked a lot on his mobility issues and some of his issues mechanically as he sprints,” strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese said. “Marteze, he’s a guy that comes in and wants to do extra, so he’s coming in and working on his arm action, working on his mobility stuff.
“He has done a tremendous job and that’s something that he knows that he needed to address to take the next step. Marteze is a phenomenal football player and that’s natural for him. The desire to be really good is important and we worked a lot on just straight mechanics of sprinting for him. He’s an explosive guy, and just some little things like foot placement and arm action he has really focused on a lot.”
Tight end trio
Through four spring practices Fresno State has put two tight ends on the field quite a bit, something that the Bulldogs were not able to do last season given a lack of depth in the position group and something they would not be able to do this season without the return of Chad Olson and the development during and after the season of Kyle Riddering and David Tangipa.
Olson became a key piece to the offense during the second half of his freshman season, catching 13 passes for 150 yards (11.5 ypc) and ranking third on the team with four touchdowns. But Riddering and Tangipa both took redshirt years, working in the strength-and-conditioning developmental program to improve their flexibility and mobility as well as strength and speed.
“We’ve done a lot of hip mobility with those guys, hurdle work, trying to get them comfortable bending and putting their bodies in uncomfortable positions and being able to come out of it,” Boese said. “When they come here we do a lot of change-of-direction speed work in the offseason and a lot of it is based on competition, so guys figure it out real quick as far as what they have to do to be able to sink, settle and get out of a cut. The great thing about it is when you see it transfer onto the field. When you see a guy who maybe had some mobility issues, some stiffness issues, be able to go down and put his foot in the ground, come back, catch the ball … it’s really a testament to the kids and how hard they’ve worked.
“They’ve both done a tremendous job. It’s important to both of those guys. I think that’s a huge part of it, it’s the kid’s desire to want to be good or the kid’s desire to work in the weight room and transfer that onto the field.”
• The outside and inside receivers had a strong period working a one-on-one drill against the defensive backs, catching and eluding a tackle. Keyan Williams, KeeSean Johnson, Jamire Jordan and Aaron Peck all winning matchups, either beating the DB to the sideline or with a move to the inside. “We are pretty athletic,” offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said. “Like I’ve said all along: Our young skill guys are very, very talented. It’s good to see. The guys that redshirted last year, Joey Boese did a great job with those guys in the weight room because you look at KeeSean, you look at Keyan, you look at Jamire, those guys have put on some muscle and some good weight and they’re talented guys. We’re excited about those guys and that’s what this offense is based on. If we can spread the field and make them cover all those guys, hopefully we can be like we were with (Josh Harper, Isaiah Burse and Davante Adams). That’s what the goal is.”
• Fresno State ran one live period Saturday and all three quarterbacks made some plays when they were pushing tempo. Zack Greenlee with the No. 1 offense ran three plays in a row for first downs — a pass to Olson, who got a block from Riddering to get extra yards, then a nice shot to Johnson for a 16-yard gain and a 16-yard run by walk-on running back James Noble III. Kilton Anderson with the No. 2 offense had a nice throw and catch with Jordan; and Chason Virgil with the No. 1 offense had a nice run off a zone read.