Tedford on media poll, the process
Fresno State, the defending Mountain West Conference champion and winner of 12 games last season and 22 over the past two, opened fall camp on Friday.
The first of 20 practices before they go into game prep for an Aug. 31 date at USC was relatively short, two hours, and in helmets and shorts per NCAA guidelines The Bulldogs will don full pads for the first time on Wednesday and run through the first of two camp scrimmages on Saturday, Aug. 10.
There are more than 100 players in camp, and with only nine starters back on offense (three) and defense (six), about as many questions.
Here are three things from the first practice that Bulldogs fans need to know ….
Key players missing
Edwards has a foot injury, and coach Jeff Tedford said the redshirt freshman from Tulare Union High, is day to day.
“It hurts, obviously,” offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said. “At the end of the spring he was emerging as one of our best receivers and he has a very dedicated skill set. The way he looks at football, he loves football. He is so committed to this game and this team. In that sense, even beyond his football skills, he is just such an all-in guy. We miss that part. But he’ll be back.”
Jones is coming off back surgery and could miss the season – the senior does have a redshirt year available, if it comes to that.
The Bulldogs also are down two offensive linemen in Jace Fuamatu (knee) and Tim Anderson (shoulder), and running back Jordan Mims remains out after missing the final two games last season and the spring with a lower leg injury.
But Muti back with starters
Left tackle Netane Muti is back with the No. 1 offense at left tackle and dominating drill work after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury at Minnesota in the second game of the 2018 season.
“Muti is back to being Muti again,” strength and conditioning coach Andy Ward said. “Great job with his rehab and putting the finishing touches on that. He ended up finishing with a 605-pound squat and a 465-pound bench and a 365-pound power clean. He’s hands-down the strongest kid I’ve been around.”
The Bulldogs have some questions to answer up front after losing four starters from a year ago, but Muti is the linchpin to that top five. He started every game in 2017 at left guard before moving out to left tackle last season.
The addition of left tackle Alex Akingbulu, a transfer from UCLA, could give the Bulldogs some options where Muti lines up.
“One day in, I like his demeanor. He has a very good skill set,” Grubb said. “We’re very excited about him.”
Bulldogs’ conditioning, strength stars
Sherwin King Jr., the redshirt freshman linebacker from Sunnyside High, had a productive summer working on body. He is down to 210 pounds from 227 a year ago, and his body fat percentage has dropped considerably.
“He did a great job this offseason as far as focusing on his nutrition and really taking it seriously,” Ward said. “Coming in as a freshman there were some nutritional habits that we had to clean up, but now that he has been consistent with it he has dropped his body fat by I want to say about 10% and he’s looking a lot better and is moving a lot better, too.”
Ward also said cornerbacks Deonte Perry and Deshawn Ruffin, tight ends Juan Rodriguez and Raymond Pauwels, defensive end Isaiah Johnson and defensive tackle Leonard Payne had strong offseasons in the weight room.
“Deonte Perry, strongest man pound for pound on the team,” Ward said. “He’s 190 pounds and ended up back squatting 540. I think he bench pressed 340 and power cleaned 315. Those are some substantial numbers.”