There were some last-minute snags, but freshman running back Bryson Oglesby will enroll at Fresno State as an NCAA partial academic qualifier and have a chance to participate in spring practices.
“We’re really excited about the fact that he’s going to be here,” coach Tim DeRuyter said Monday. “He has done a lot of really hard work to get himself to this point and he’s going to be an academic redshirt for us, have access to our academic support. He’ll be monitored by our coaches as well as our academic staff and if he takes care of business he’ll practice with us in January.”
As a partial qualifier, Oglesby must pass 12 units in the fall semester with a grade-point average of 2.5 or higher to be cleared to participate in spring practices. Classes at Fresno State start Tuesday.
The freshman from Sugar Land, Texas, just outside of Houston, is a big back and a big piece to the 2015 recruiting class. There are two senior running backs on the roster this season in starter Marteze Waller and Malique Micenheimer and a graduate transfer in Dustin Garrison, but after that no juniors or sophomores. Redshirt freshman Chris Moliga, a converted linebacker, and freshman Wesley Hill are the other scholarship running backs in the program.
By participating in spring practices Oglesby would get a head start on 2016, and he is expected to make an immediate impact when he gets onto the football field.
“You look at (freshman quarterback Chason Virgil), being here last January, he gains close to 20 pounds and going through spring ball he understands how we do things, and that gives him a chance to compete,” DeRuyter said. “We expected Bryson to be in the mix next year with us losing three senior running backs. It’s an opportunity for him to go seize a position in the spring, but if he’s not here in the summer then it’s up in the air.”
Charles Washington gets into scrimmage
Senior cornerback Charles Washington, coming back from two offseason surgeries to repair a core muscle injury, was able to take reps on Monday in the Bulldogs’ final fall camp scrimmage, backing up some live work he did in practice on Saturday.
He made some plays with the No. 2 defense, notably breaking up a pass in the end zone on a third-and-6 play and fighting off a block to cut down inside receiver Justin Allen for no gain.
“To see him come back after (Saturday), that was good to see,” DeRuyter said. “That’s the tell-tale. You go out one day and the next day you’re sore. He has gone a few days; he’s starting to get closer to what he’s capable of. I anticipate by the time we play Abilene Christian, he’ll be ready to go.”
Slow start for offense
The offense did not start the scrimmage particularly well, going without a first down on the first series run by Zack Greenlee, Virgil and Ford Childress. There were extenuating circumstances for all three quarterbacks, who are competing to take the first snap on Sept. 3 against the Wildcats.
On the first live play from scrimmage, Greenlee had Da’Mari Scott working downfield against junior cornerback Jamal Ellis and the wide out was called for pass interference, which put the offense into a first-and-25. On the second play, Greenlee had Jamire Jordan open, but the redshirt freshman inside receiver dropped the pass.
Virgil took the next series and was off the field quickly, taking a sack by linebackers Brandon Hughes and Robert Stanley on a 3rd-and-11 play.
With Childress taking snaps, there was a holding penalty on a run by Garrison on a 2nd-and-6 play and redshirt sophomore Darrell Fuery dropped a pass on 3rd-and-12.
There were five dropped passes when the No. 1 or No. 2 offense was on the field.
“Started slow,” DeRuyter said “It’s always a good-news, bad-news thing. I thought our defense came out with a ton of energy, competed well, particularly up front. But offensively, we hurt ourselves with some dropped balls and some penalties. When you’re starting with first-and-25 or second-and-17 because of a penalty, I mean it just kills you. We have to get that cleaned up. Another time we had a first-and-goal at the 1 and end up with a false start, so now we’re at the 6 and end up with a field goal. Those are lost points. When we’re at the 1-yard line, we have to get seven points every time.”
The offense did push back when running live situational sequences – first backed up to the 1-yard line and needing a first down and then an end-of-half with less than one minute to go.
But more is required at the start.
“What we have to do is have guys mentally dialed in,” DeRuyter said. “We can’t have offensive pass interference. We can’t have holding down the field. We can’t have dropped footballs. Those things, we have to get better at them.”
D-line: Madsen at nose, Louis and Hunt at ends
The defensive line in the first season without all-conference nose guard Tyeler Davison is taking shape through the two-deep with Nate Madsen at nose and Claudell Louis and Todd Hunt at the ends with the No. 1 unit and Ryan Steele, Nick Kristofors and Kyle Hendrickson with the twos.
“I feel pretty good about the two deep,” defensive line coach Pete Germano said. “They’re all going to have to play. They’re guys that haven’t played much, and are going to have to grow up fast.
“I think Nick will be the first end in the game and he’s playing a little nickel nose. We’re doing all right. I like where we’re at. I think our ones are still our ones and nothing has changed from one scrimmage to the next. I thought Nick could push, but it’s a little tough when you come in and it’s new.”
Hunt started every game last season at end, ranking eighth on the team with 54 tackles. Madsen started four games last season at end, and Louis has one career start.
▪ Quarterbacks stats in the scrimmage: Greenlee, 5 of 15 for 85 yards; Virgil, 3 of 4 for 14 yards; Childress, 3 of 7 for 51 yards.
Virgil also rushed for a 52-yard touchdown on a first-down play, making a nice fake on a zone read to Micenheimer and bolting downfield.
“We’re going to go in and evaluate the tape,” DeRuyter said. “We may not officially name it, but as we get into Wednesday’s practice we will have a guy that’s definitely getting a majority of the reps.”
Of the three quarterbacks, Virgil produced the only touchdown on the long run. Greenlee twice had the offense inside the 10-yard line, but settled for field goals both times. On the first, the offense had a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line but was set back by a false start penalty. Greenlee missed outside receiver Da’Mari Scott on first down, then had passes broken up by Malcolm Washington and Charles Washington. On the second, in the end-of-half drill, Greenlee hit Josiah Blandin for a 33-yard gain to the 7-yard line. Greenlee missed Jordan on first down and had a second-down pass knocked down by outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine blitzing off the edge. The Bulldogs ran the football on third down.
▪ Last season, the Bulldogs ranked 11th of 12 in the Mountain West Conference and 107th of 128 in the nation in red-zone scoring percentage at 74.5%.
▪ Kilton Anderson got a lot of reps with the threes and fours on the field, and completing 14 of 21 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
▪ Freshman tight end Jared Rice has practiced his way up the depth chart and had five receptions for 90 yards including a touchdown from Anderson.
▪ The defense had five sacks in the scrimmage, two by freshman walk-on Nick Aibuedefe working against the No. 3 offense.
▪ With Charles Washington and Malcolm Washington back on the field, the Bulldogs have the option to redshirt freshman Mike Bell. He has had a strong camp, but taking a redshirt would help the depth in a position group that was not in good shape when DeRuyter and his staff were hired.
Washington, Washington, junior Jamal Ellis, redshirt freshman Anthoula (Tank) Kelly and junior college transfer Tyquwan Brown are competing for playing time in those two spots at this point.
“I like the fact that we feel we have five corners competing for those jobs, and it’s not made up where we’re kidding ourselves about that,” defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. “There are five legitimate guys there that are decent players. So they better play every day. They better play every day in practice. When it’s time to go they better play in games.”