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Fresno State Reveals Depth Chart Ahead of Opener vs. USC

No, the Bulldogs still haven't named a starter at quarterback, but intrigue abounds beyond the biggest headline.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

As the Red Wave waited on pins and needles Sunday night for the official release of Fresno State's first depth chart of the 2014 season, head coach Tim DeRuyter must have been rocking back and forth in his office along Bulldog Lane, Victor E. Bulldog resting in his lap, a mischievous grin on his face. With 20 wins and two Mountain West championships in his first two seasons, there is no doubt that DeRuyter is a man with a plan. That said, he must delight in keeping that plan to himself for the moment, as he suggested in his press conference today when asked who the starting quarterback would be.

"We'll tell you on Saturday afternoon right before we go out there."

Thanks, coach. The quarterback competition has been front and center since the start of fall camp, but when taken as a whole and compared to the depth chart released at media days last month, there are other interesting wrinkles for the Bulldog faithful to contemplate.

SB Nation 2014 College Football Guide


Position No. 1st String No. 2nd String
Quarterback 2 Brian Burrell, Jr.  OR
15 Brandon Connette, Sr.
Running Back 20 Josh Quezada, Sr. OR
33 Marteze Waller, Jr.
Left Tackle 76 Alex Fifita, Jr.
63 Josh Tremblay, Sr.
Left Guard 75 Sean Rubalcava, Sr.
79 Aaron Mitchell, Fr.
Center 60 Bo Bonnheim, Jr.
61 Jacob Vasquez, Jr.
Right Guard 73 Cody Wichmann, Sr. 70 Alan Gonzalez, RS Fr.
Right Tackle 54 Justin Northern, Jr.
78 David Patterson, RS Fr.
Tight End 45 Riley Barnes, Sr.
88 Jerin McClendon, Sr.
Wide Receiver 7 Aaron Peck, Jr. 10 Greg Watson, Sr.
Wide Receiver 3 Josh Harper, Sr. 6
Delvon Hardaway, RS Fr.
Wide Receiver 8 Da'Mari Scott, So.
84 LeKendrick Williams, Sr.


Position No. 1st String No. 2nd String
Defensive End 92 Tyeler Davison, Sr. OR
91 Nathan Madsen, RS Fr.
Nose Guard 77 Tyeler Davison, Sr. OR
77 Maurice Poyadue, Jr.
Defensive End 96 Todd Hunt, Jr. 55 Claudell Louis, RS Jr.
Outside Linebacker 31 Ejiro Ederaine, Jr. 57 Adam DeCosta, Sr.
Middle Linebacker (MIKE)
43 Karl Mickelsen, Sr. 23 Xavier Ulutu, Fr.
Middle Linebacker (WILL)
17 Kyrie Wilson, Jr. 42 Jeff Camilli, So.
Outside Linebacker 27 Donavon Lewis, Sr. 41 Brandon Hughes, So.
Cornerback 23 Bryan Harper, So. OR
3 Corey Ferguson, Jr. OR 15 Stratton Brown, So.
Strong Safety 28 Charles Washington, Jr. OR
5 Dalen Jones, So.
Free Safety 13 Derron Smith, Sr. 4 Shannon Edwards, Jr.
Cornerback 28 Charles Washington, Jr. OR
7 Curtis Riley, Sr. OR 2 Jamal Ellis, So.



Position No. 1st String No. 2nd String
Kicker 19 Colin McGuire, So.
49 Garrett Swanson, Jr.
Kickoffs 49
Garrett Swanson, Jr.
Colin McGuire, So.
Punter 49
Garrett Swanson, Jr.
48 Kody Kroening, Fr.
Long snapper
Dylan Detwiler, Jr.
53 Justin Verrell, Jr.
Holder 49
Garrett Swanson, Jr. OR
15 Brandon Connette, Sr.
Kick returner 8
Da'Mari Scott, So.
7 Curtis Riley, Sr.
Punt returner 7
Curtis Riley, Sr.
8 Da'Mari Scott, So.

Very rarely has a humble conjunction loomed so large over the Bulldogs' potential fortunes. Head coach Tim DeRuyter  essentially acknowledged that the starter is a game-time decision, telling Robert Kuwada of the Fresno Bee:

"We feel really confident about both of those quarterbacks and we don't want to tip our hand on who is going to be our starter because we have some different packages for both of them..."

"They have similar yet distinct skill sets. Obviously, Brian has more experience in our offense, but Brandon is probably a little bit more explosive runner."

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The starting five on the offensive line solidified once Rubalcava seized control of the left guard role, but there was quite a bit of turnover among the backups.  Patterson and Tremblay have switched places, while Mitchell ascended on the two-deep following Elijah Cox's academic ineligibility.

The skill positions are deeper than the depth chart indicates, as evidenced by the absence of Justin Johnson and Malique Micenheimer, among others.  Dillon Root had also figured to carve out a role as both a receiver and possibly a kick returner, but Kuwada notes that he will be suspended for the opener because of an undisclosed violation of team rules.

On defense, Ioane Sagapolu still figures to see some action at nose guard despite Davison getting more reps at that position throughout the fall.  The linebackers are young behind the starting four, though the most intriguing of the new additions is Utulu.  In the secondary, Washington spent time as both a nickel corner and a strong safety in 2013 and figures to be the linchpin of a backfield that will need to be flexible against USC's multitude of playmakers.

That the depth chart lists six cornerbacks at just two spots suggests just how much they matter, though.  The exercise, really, is a tease for the fans and the media of an idea of who will see the field on Saturday.  The reality is that the picture is much bigger and more complex that a simple two-deep can explain. Those who want to criticize DeRuyter for not naming a starting QB are making an assumption that the coaching staff at Fresno State doesn't know what they're doing. Nobody seems to mind that both Josh Quezada and Marteze Waller are listed as the starting running back, because it's understood that the position that is in a state of constant flux and rotations are in season.

In a day where defenses strive to "be multiple" and players are subbed in and out at multiple positions, should it be a surprise that so many positions are fluid? Sure, many can argue that the QB position is one of leadership, that it must be solidified so the rest of the team knows who they must follow.  We assume that we know our team.  We don't. Given the track record of this coaching staff in the two years since their arrival, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they know better than me that this two headed QB situation just might work.