Fresno State took another hit to its quarterback position group Sunday when Ford Childress had surgery to repair an internal injury after the team returned from a 49-23 loss at San Jose State.
Childress, who started against the Spartans and was the third quarterback to start in the Bulldogs’ first four games, is likely to miss the rest of the season.
“Sometimes when it rains, it pours,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “But you know what, no one is going to feel sorry for the ’Dogs so we better not feel sorry for ourselves, either. We have to just buckle up and find a way.”
The Bulldogs already have lost freshman Chason Virgil for the year with a broken clavicle, leaving third-year sophomore Zack Greenlee, redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson and freshman walk-on Jesse Hanckel as the only healthy quarterbacks in the program.
Greenlee, who did not play at San Jose State while serving a one-game suspension following an arrest on suspicion of public drunkenness and drinking in public, is expected to start Saturday when the Bulldogs play at San Diego State hoping to avoid an 0-2 start to Mountain West Conference play.
He has completed just 50 percent of his passes (23 of 46) for 313 yards but did throw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of a loss two weeks ago to then-No. 21 Utah.
Anderson played his first career reps against the Spartans, picking up 20 yards on two carries and missing badly on his one pass attempt.
Hanckel to this point has worked on the scout team in practice.
Childress completed 19 of 32 passes (59.4 percent) against the Spartans for 159 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He told DeRuyter while being treated by medical personnel that he did not remember taking a hit during the game to cause the injury, but when the team returned from San Jose about 3 a.m., Childress was unable to get off the bus.
“Kilton was back there with him, and I’m up front and he comes and says, ‘Coach, we need a trainer’ so we called (athletic trainer Tony Hill) and he can’t get up, his stomach is hurting,” DeRuyter said. “We had the doctors there, so they get the ambulance and they took him to Community Medical Center.”
While many FBS programs keep five quarterbacks among 85 scholarship players, the Bulldogs by design have had four under DeRuyter and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm.
Most years, that is enough. The Bulldogs last season had two quarterbacks start games – Brian Burrell and Greenlee. In 2013 and ’12, and ’11 under former coach Pat Hill, Derek Carr started every game. In 2010, Ryan Colburn started every game for the Bulldogs.
This season, with Greenlee starting against Abilene Christian and Ole Miss, Virgil starting against Utah and Childress against San Jose State, they have had three starters perhaps for the first time in school history. Fresno State has game-by-game records only dating to the 1979 season.
Syracuse and Louisville also have started three quarterbacks in their first four games this season.