Fresno State strong safety Dalen Jones was expected to be out for six to 10 weeks after suffering a knee injury – but that prognosis was shortened considerably after a few days and it has been shortened again.
On Tuesday, Jones was doing his rehab work without a brace on the knee and football coach Tim DeRuyter said the junior could be in practice when the Bulldogs get into game prep for their Sept. 3 season opener against Abilene Christian at Bulldog Stadium.
“He said from jump that he feels really good,” DeRuyter said. “Initially, it was sore, but when we were thinking it was going to be six to 10 weeks minimum he was saying, ‘Coach, I feel better than that’ and we think that he may be able to practice come Saturday.”
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Long snapper Dylan Detwiler, running back Malique Micenheimer and end Todd Hunt – all seniors – have been voted by teammates as captains for the season.
WR Da’Mari Scott to redshirt remains plan
With Aaron Peck out for the season, the Bulldogs are without the only senior in their outside receivers position group and their depth took a solid hit.
They already were without third-year sophomore Delvon Hardaway, who is rehabbing a knee injury suffered in the spring and is expected back toward the middle of September.
Da’Mari Scott, who returned to the team this summer after seeking a transfer after the 2014 season, has been taking reps with the No. 1 offense. But the plan upon his return was to redshirt this season and, even with some depth concerns, that has not changed at this point.
DeRuyter said Scott definitely will not play in the opener.
“Our plan is to have him work on the scout team until further notice,” DeRuyter said. “When we had the discussion with Da’Mari, the thought was that we were likely to redshirt him and see what his demeanor, his attitude, was going to be like as a scout team player – and I thought for his overall development it was going to help him out. I like how he has come out and attacked things, and we’re going to stay on that path for right now.”
The Bulldogs are expected to go into the opener with redshirt freshman KeeSean Johnson, freshman L.J. Reed, junior college transfer Josiah Blandin and redshirt sophomore Darrell Fuery on the two-deep.
Fresno State is projecting a crowd in the low- to mid-30,000 range for the season opener at Bulldog Stadium.
The home opener last season was against No. 21 Nebraska, which drew a sellout crowd of 41,031.
In 2013, with the Bulldogs coming off their first conference title since 1999, they had 33,098 for an opener against Rutgers.
Freshmen to redshirt: Trevino, Northup, Bradley, Carter and Smith
Some decisions have been made regarding redshirts for freshmen – the staff has them broken down in three groups:
Those who are definitely playing this year, those who are definitely redshirting this year and those who are still under consideration to play either on offense or defense or on special teams.
Through fall camp it has been obvious that outside linebacker James Bailey, inside linebacker Nela Otukolo, outside receiver L.J. Reed and tight end Jared Rice will be playing this season, and DeRuyter said running back Wesley Hill also will not redshirt.
Those definitely taking a redshirt include offensive linemen Isaiah Trevino and Ben Northup, defensive linemen Mason Bradley and Jaleel Carter, and defensive back Jalen Smith.
Final word on quarterbacks
Offensive coordinator Dave Schramm offered this last thought on the quarterbacks in the scrimmage on Monday:
“It was OK. We did a good job taking care of the football. We’re still unsure at times a little bit, which is going to happen. Our defense is going to confuse you at times with some of that blitz pick-up, but for the most part I was pleased that we took care of the football. We have to be a little more accurate with it, but our decision-making I thought was decent.”
Coaches’ game posts under evaluation
The Bulldogs ran a mock game in practice on Tuesday, going through their pregame routine. They also continued to look at the alignment of their coaches on the field and in the press box, which DeRuyter said is something that have evaluated since the end of last season.
“We’re looking at different guys potentially in the (press) box,” he said. “Everything we do, we re-evaluate every single year and try to get better. When you have younger guys or older guys, sometimes you want to switch things around. We’re working through those things and we’ll have a decision next week after we evaluate how those things went.”