Football coaches are not big fans of distraction, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential. But the Fresno State Bulldogs on Monday had to deal with a very large issue when freshman walk-on Christian Pryor was arrested about 45 minutes before practice was to start in connection with a shooting threat against the university that was made on the social media app Yik Yak.
The post, made anonymously and linked by investigators to Pryor, stated, “the time is here. @3PM I will release my frustrations. Tired of dirty looks, get rejected, nd being talked abt bc how I dress. My choice of weapon M4 Carbine and I will take a headshot at a hot blonde.” It included a photo of the Henry Madden Library, which is in the middle of the Fresno State campus.
Pryor, a wide receiver on the scout team who had not played in a game for the Bulldogs, was arrested at 2:28 p.m. in the Duncan Building, which houses the football locker room, meeting rooms and coach’s offices. He was booked into the Fresno County Jail on a charge of making a criminal threat, and bail was set at $20,000.
Coach Tim DeRuyter addressed the threat with the team on the practice field.
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We talk all the time about distractions. We talk about circumstances and adversity. Life is never about the hand you’re dealt; it’s about how you react to it, and I think our guys reacted well.
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter
“We were alerted to this prior to practice,” he said. “Again, it just shows you how things have changed in the last five years with social media. These things spread like wildfires. I thought it was important to talk to our team about it. There were rumors running, so you want to tell them where things stood. There was some concern on campus, whether they were going to be safe on campus, and I assured them that the police had everything under control. The alleged perpetrator was in police custody and I think that he was the only person involved potentially, so there was no risk to us.”
The players were instructed not to discuss the incident.
But DeRuyter said he was pleased with the way they handled a difficult situation and remained focused in practice, preparing for a Mountain West Conference game on Thursday against Nevada.
“We were aware of the circumstances and so were our players,” he said. “Understandably, with social media, it spread throughout campus and we wanted to address it before practice and make sure we had a focused practice, and I was proud of our guys that our guys did that.
“We talk all the time about distractions. We talk about circumstances and adversity. Life is never about the hand you’re dealt; it’s about how you react to it, and I think our guys reacted well.”
Bulldogs expect Wolf Pack pressure – Nevada, which visits Bulldog Stadium on Thursday, is not a high-pressure blitzing team. The Wolf Pack have 16 sacks this season, seventh in the Mountain West Conference. But with a bye week to work with and a redshirt freshman quarterback in Kilton Anderson to attack, offensive coordinator Dave Schramm said he was expecting that to change.
It did in the second half last season, when Fresno State went to Mackay Stadium and rolled to a 40-20 victory. The Bulldogs scored five touchdowns in their first 10 possessions and managed one field goal in their final eight.
“Going into this game a year ago, they weren’t a big-pressure team, but they blitzed us pretty good,” Schramm said. “Statistically, no, they have not been a big-pressure team, but we’re expecting them to blitz. Knowing what our situation is at quarterback and how young we are, I’d be shocked if they didn’t.
“We’ll see some things that Kilton hasn’t seen on film and all those things. We’re going to have to make some adjustments during the game and get it picked up and get it protected.”
In his three starts, Anderson has been sacked seven times, five coming in his initial start against Utah State. He has handled the decision-making, the protections against blitzes well enough, the majority of the issues with the offense have been more physical in nature.
“We have to keep working and get better,” Schramm said. “The timing is not right and when the ball has to come out, when guys have to get off press, all those things that guys learn as they play. We just have to keep working it and get better. I believe we’re sound in our schemes. I believe in what we do. We just have to get better at what we do and I think the guys are working hard at it. That’s all you can ask.”
Et cetera – DeRuyter said outside linebacker Brandon Hughes and offensive guard Micah St. Andrew will miss the Nevada game due to injury. Hughes has missed the past two games and St. Andrew has missed one.
▪ Sophomore outside linebacker Justin Green, primarily a pass-rush specialist from the boundary, is getting a little more run in practice with an eye toward becoming more of an every-down player. “He has done a nice job as a pass-rush edge guy, which is the quickest way we saw to get him on the field, and he’s still improving on that,” DeRuyter said. “He had some big plays in the UNLV game late. The thing about him to be an every-down player, one, he has to get bigger and that’s going to be time, working in the weight room and nutrition, but then just more consistency in his assignments. He’s a guy that you would have loved to redshirt, but both years because of injuries we’ve had to play him. He needs this offseason as badly as anybody on our team to get some good weight on him so he can be an every-down guy.”
▪ The Bulldogs are averaging 21.0 points per game, ranking in a tie for 109th in the FBS with Texas-El Paso. Fresno State has not averaged fewer points per game since 1980, when it was at 17.5 in a 5-6 season under coach Jim Sweeney and ranked 97th of 138.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
Up next for ’Dogs
FRESNO STATE VS. NEVADA
- Thursday: 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
- Records: Bulldogs 2-6, 1-4 Mountain West; Wolf Pack 4-4, 2-2
- TV: ESPN2
- Radio: KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)