With the choice down to two, Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm have decided to stick with redshirt freshman quarterback Kilton Anderson and try to build on a shaky first career start in a 56-14 loss to Utah State rather than turn back to third-year sophomore Zack Greenlee.
“Kilton is going to be our starting quarterback going forward,” DeRuyter said on Sunday, after the Bulldogs went through a brief walk-through practice starting prep for Friday’s game against UNLV.
I like his work ethic; I like his understanding. I think he’s going to grow, and we’re going to grow with him.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter, on quarterback Kilton Anderson
“There are a lot of plays that he’d like to have back, but he is very cognizant of the mistakes that he made and how to correct them. I think he has a good awareness. When a guy is out there for the first time, there’s going to be mistakes made, just like at any position. But I like his work ethic; I like his understanding. I think he’s going to grow, and we’re going to grow with him.”
Anderson struggled against the Aggies, who are ranked second in the Mountain West Conference in total defense and scoring defense. He completed 10 of 20 passes for 112 yards with one touchdown, but also threw three interceptions and had difficulty with the Bulldogs’ protections in getting sacked five times. But DeRuyter said Anderson handled himself well throughout, and with freshman Chason Virgil (broken clavicle) and junior transfer Ford Childress (internal injury) out for the season, Anderson is deemed best to attack a five-game losing streak with three of those losses coming in conference play.
“I liked his demeanor on the field,” DeRuyter said. “While he made some mistakes, he was quickly aware of what the mistakes were. You’d grab him on the sidelines and he could communicate what he saw and why he made the decisions that he made. Those are things that need to happen with a quarterback, and I thought he did a nice job with those things. We just have to get him to where he has plenty of reps where he’s not making the initial mistake.”
79.6 Kilton Anderson’s QB efficiency rating this season, completing 10 of 21 passes for 112 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions
Anderson was told on Saturday morning that he would make his first career start against Utah State, and after the game admitted that he did not see any of it coming after he was the first to be pulled out of what was a four-way fall camp competition to be the starting quarterback.
“No, I did not,” he said, “but you have to be ready for anything that’s thrown at you. I was always getting mental reps. I was always on the sideline paying attention and came out ready to go.”
Greenlee, who did not play a snap against Utah State after taking every one in a 21-7 loss at San Diego State in which the Bulldogs generated only 89 yards of total offense, has struggled. In his four career starts, he has completed only 46.8 percent of his passes (36 of 77) for 301 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. His passing efficiency rating in those games is 94.1 and he has averaged only 3.9 yards per passing attempt.
Only four of the 117 quarterbacks ranked in the bowl subdivision in passing have worse efficency ratings this week, starting with No. 114 Max Wittek of Hawaii at 91.7. To qualify for the rankings, a quarterback must have played in 75 percent of his team’s games and while there are 14 from the Mountain West included, none are Bulldogs. Baylor’s Seth Russell leads at 210.7.
Anderson has attempted only 21 passes – his first came in a loss at San Jose State. Against UNLV on Friday night, the redshirt freshman quarterback and the Bulldogs will be up against a defense that ranks sixth of 12 in the conference in rushing defense (178.2 yards per game), last in passing defense (243.3 ypg), but fifth in scoring defense (26.8 points per game).
FRESNO STATE VS. UNLV
- Friday: 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 1-5, 0-3 MW; Rebels 2-4, 1-1
- TV/radio: ESPN2/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)