It was a team period, just the other day, with the Fresno State Bulldogs prepping for Saturday at Minnesota. Michiah Quick crossed the middle of the field, his hands rising to meet and secure the football, just as safety Juju Hughes was closing. Hughes got a shoulder in there, popped the ball into the air and away from Quick.
Hughes got a slap on the helmet and some high fives for making a play from the guys in the red jerseys, the defense. He also got one from Quick.
“That was a good play, man,” Quick said. “I actually had that ball caught and for him to get that out, that’s a big-time play.
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“That could be third down in a game. If he makes that play like he did in practice, the punt team is out there and we have a chance to get our offense back on the field.”
That’s the way it was from the start at Fresno State with the former Central High standout, who sat out his first year back home as a transfer from Oklahoma,where he had been dismissed midway through the 2016 season for a violation of team rules.
“I think that’s just him,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “When guys sit out and they’re injured, they have a tendency to go into a shell a little bit. He didn’t do that. He continued to be positive and supportive of his teammates. That’s the thing that you notice about him. He’s very supportive of his teammates and always encouraging them to do well and encouraging them to compete.
“That attitude is a big thing. When you can have somebody every day that cares about the team and cares about others, which he does, he encourages people and compliments them when they do well, and when things don’t go well, he tries to lift them up. He does a really good job with that.”
That’s the way it has been this season, as well, though Quick’s value now can extend beyond the practice field.
Into the season and his first real football in nearly two years, Quick has a chance to do a lot more for the Bulldogs, who have designs on a return to the Mountain West Conference championship game and a potential berth in a New Year’s Six bowl.
In his first game at Bulldog Stadium, a 79-13 rout of Idaho, he had seven targets, second on the team behind KeeSean Johnson, the leading returning receiver in the conference. There was good and bad, and it had the senior lamenting two plays that got away.
Quick caught five passes for 25 yards, but was targeted twice on third downs and didn’t make the plays. The first, a third-and-6 in the first quarter, went onto the stat sheet as a drop. The second, a third-and-2 in the second quarter, he reeled in, but was taken down after just missing the first-down line and the Bulldogs had to punt.
It was a great team win, Quick said, but he has to finish those plays.
“I think I got my feet wet in the game, but I have to do a better job performing for my team. Third-and-2 or third-and-short and I have a chance to get the first down easily by the coaches getting me the ball out in space, I need to go out and do that so we can keep the drive going and be able to put six points on the board.
“The other one, I just need to catch the ball. That was great protection up front by the linemen. (Quarterback Marcus McMaryion) went through his read and progression and put the ball in a very good spot. I just need to finish the play.”
Quick, playing as a slot receiver with Johnson at the “Z” position and Jamire Jordan at the “X,” figures to get a lot more chances starting Saturday at Minnesota.
“Every game you’re going to continue to see him be more comfortable and us continue to figure out the exact ways that we want to get him the football,” offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer said.
“We experimented with a few things last week and as games continue on and he plays three or four quarters in each game I think you’ll see his touches continue to grow.”
Quick said he just wants to see the Bulldogs continue to hit the high points in all three phases of the game.
“I want to see 79 points or something close to it on the board each week, because we’re capable of doing that so we have to stay rolling,” he said.
“Special teams, they’re rolling. Our defense is doing their job, very well. I want to see them keep doing it and as a team, we’re going to keep grinding and keep it going as a unit, as group and as a family, as brothers. We have to keep grinding so we can come out on top when it’s time to be a champion.”
Get ready for Minnesota
Fresno State at Minnesota, 4:30 p.m. Pacific Saturday. TV: FS1 (find a channel guide here)
Each Fresno State football game week Robert Kuwada will report on keys to the game:
▪ 3 things to watch
▪ That’s trouble (Something the opponent does that could play well against Fresno State)
▪ Need to know