The Fresno State Bulldogs went through their first scrimmage of fall football camp on Saturday, working about 30 plays from different spots on the field, 90 or so plays in all.
The twos and threes got a lot of work and, interestingly, on defense, they were mixed in with the ones quite a bit without glaring drop-off, a positive sign.
“We got a lot of guys in,” coach Jeff Tedford said. “It’s going to be a great tape to learn from, as typical most scrimmages go. It’s a learning experience, so excited to go in and watch the tape and get better from it.”
Here are three things from the scrimmage …
Who’ll replace KeeSean et al? These guys
The wideouts in the Bulldogs’ 2019 recruiting class attracted a lot of attention the first week of fall camp, making plays in 7 on 7s and in team periods. In the first extended live work, it was no different, and JC transfer Keric Wheatfall and freshmen Jamal Glaspie, Josh Kelly and Jalen Cropper all could end up in playing rotations.
In the scrimmage, they all made plays. Wheatfall had a rough drop late in the scrimmage. But he also made one of the first big plays, breaking free downfield, clear by plenty, and circling back to go up and make a play on a pass that floated a bit.
Kelly made a nice catch on an out route, pulling down an improbable ball against the sideline that was high and away.
Cropper showed his explosiveness in the open field, making a deft spin move on a third-and-5 play to avoid a tackle and pick up a first down.
Glaspie was on the receiving end of two explosive pass plays that went for 40-plus yards, the first from No. 2 quarterback Ben Wooldridge and the second from Nate Lamb, the freshman from Tulare Union High.
Having lost KeeSean Johnson, the Bulldogs’ all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, as well as Jamire Jordan, Michiah Quick, Delvon Hardaway and a few other senior receivers, this is a position group that was a question coming into camp.
Not so much, anymore.
“I feel very comfortable with the talent level, their attention to detail and the competition,” Tedford said. “It’s a really good young group and they’re just going to continue to get better every day. (Receivers coach Kirby Moore) is doing a great job of coaching them and it’s a quality group. I like them a lot.”
The offense suffered from some dropped passes. The ones did not start particularly well, but they made some plays, the best a nice shot from quarterback Jorge Reyna to senior wideout Derrion Grim.
“I need to work more, get better,” Reyna said. “There are some plays lingering in my mind that I wish I had back, but other than that, just move on, learn from it. As you saw (after the scrimmage) I was just working on those throws that I could have made.”
Right tackle Bull still ill, has catching up to do
With redshirt sophomore Dontae Bull out the past few days due to an illness, the Bulldogs had true freshman Dante Adkins Jr. working at right tackle with the twos.
Bull, who has played tackle and guard, is not expected back until the latter part of the week and will have some catching up to do.
“Conditioning and getting him in the right mindset, yes,” offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb said. “It will be a week to get him back and then a week to get him back. It will be a couple of weeks away. He has a lot of work to do, but we’ll get there.”
Scrimmage helps set backup rotations
The Bulldogs are replacing six starters from a defensive that ranked third in the nation in allowing just 14.1 points per game last season, but coordinator Bert Watts and the defensive staff have experience moving up and into those positions.
Safety Wylan Free is in his third year in the program, as is cornerback Chris Gaston and linebacker Arron Mosby; linebacker Justin Rice is in his fourth season.
The focus coming out of the scrimmage will be to work through those backup spots, and they got a chance to work different players with a lot of ones on the field.
“We’re obviously competing, but that’s a pretty good depiction of where we are with the guys who were out there,” Watts said. “As we grade the tape and see that and confirm some of the things we’re thinking, the next few weeks will be about who those next guys are, guys that we can roll in there and give those guys a break and use in sub packages.”
Defensive end Leevel Tatum III and defensive tackles Leonard Payne Jr., Alex Dumais and Matt Lawson are in that group, but so are some true freshmen including cornerback Deshawn Ruffin and defensive end Colby Warkentin.
“I credit the assistant coaches,” Watts said. “They’ve done a great job working with our guys. It’s nice that we’re able to get some time with them in the summertime, especially the freshmen that come in, and you can see that now. You see their grasp of things is higher than traditionally freshmen are.”