Derek Carr was the Mountain West offensive player of the year in 2012 and the media’s pick to repeat the feat in 2013. Suffice it to say, then, that coordinator Dave Schramm’s spread attack is in good hands. Carr completed 67.3 percent of his passes and led the conference with 4104 yards and 37 touchdowns. In addition, he only threw 7 interceptions in 511 attempts, demonstrating remarkable efficiency despite a high volume of work.
The battle to earn the back-up position, however, has yielded no clear-cut winner. Last year’s backup, Greg Watson, is in the middle of a transition to wide receiver. Marcus McDade decided to leave the program. Junior college product Brian Burrell currently has the edge over redshirt freshman Myles Carr and freshman Zack Greenlee, but this is an area of concern given that Derek Carr had lingering injury issues a year ago.
Depth chart projection: D. Carr, Burrell, M. Carr
Record-setting Robbie Rouse is gone to the professional ranks, and now the Bulldogs are approaching the ground game with a committee. Brigham Young transfer Josh Quezada looks set to give the ground game much more of a power element. Quezada tallied only 298 yards in 2011, but it is worth noting that he saved his best performance for the Cougars’ bowl win over UTEP. Marteze Waller, who backed up Rouse in 2012, also figures to earn a fair share of carries. Both backs are listed at 5’11" and 214 pounds, so even if no one player racks up 1490 yards as Rouse did in 2012, the group should be hammer out the approximately 2000 yards the team earned.
Wide receiver/Tight end
A group with question marks in 2012 enters the new year with exclamation points in Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse. Adams earned Freshman All-American honors by catching 102 balls for 1312 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Burse pitched in with 57 catches for 851 yards and 6 scores. Burse also doubled as the primary kick returner and averaged a respectable 22.4 yards per return.
Behind the dynamic duo, junior Josh Harper and the aforementioned Watson figure to round out the array of Carr’s options. Harper got off to a blistering start in 2012, averaging nearly 14 yards a catch, before suffering a sports hernia and missing the Bulldogs’ final seven games. Watson saw limited action as a receiver, but did haul in five balls at the Hawai’i Bowl. Victor Dean was expected to be a part of this rotation, but he was dismissed from the team in May because of rule violations.
At tight end, Marcel Jensen’s numbers (20 catches, 339 yards) didn’t jump off the box score, but the 6’6" senior was named to the Mackey Award watch list and can be expected to earn a greater share of targets.
Depth chart projection
TE: Jensen, Riley Barnes, Jerin McClendon
A lot has been made of the shuffling along the line in preseason practices, but the unit should continue to be well-suited for the overall scheme. Right guard Cody Wichmann is the only lineman among the potential starters who tops 300 pounds. Left tackle Austin Wentworth may be the best in the conference; he and Wichmann are the only two settled positions. Sophomore Alex Fifita has seen time at left guard after spending most of 2012 at right tackle. Lars Bramer is steady at center, but has had some competition in Bo Bonnheim. Sophomore Justin Northern could man right tackle.
Multiple options can be a blessing or a curse depending on individual competency. When one considers Derek Carr’s abdomen tear in 2012 and the murkiness of the backup quarterback situation, keeping Carr upright is vital to Fresno State’s success.
Depth chart projection
LT: Wentworth, Josh Tremblay
LG: Fifita, Travis Harvey
C: Bramer, Bonnheim, Mike Saenz
RG: Wichmann, James Le'au
RT: Northern, Fifita