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Fresno State football: First scrimmage offers few answers

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The Bulldogs have shown promise, but some critical issues remain.

Kickoff against Nebraska is three weeks away, but the Fresno State Bulldogs took the field under the public eye for the first (and only) time in fall camp Saturday morning. Some pressing questions were addressed by the athletes on the field, but there weren’t a whole lot in the way of solutions just yet. Here are the highlights:

Running back attrition is the story no one’s talking about... but they should

The race for the starting quarterback role obviously grabs a lot of headlines, but replacing Marteze Waller’s production is equally important and, well, it hasn’t been pretty so far. Dontel James is hurt. Deonte Perry is hurt. Justin Rice is hurt. Bryson Oglesby is hu— I’ll stop. You get the picture, right?

It didn’t get any clearer today, as true freshman Saevion Johnson was hit and fumbled, suffering a leg injury of his own. Those left standing at the moment include one sophomore (Dejonte O’Neal), one redshirt freshman (Treyvon Green) and one true freshman (Austin Harper), each of whom had their moments.

O’Neal, in particular, got most of the work with the first team and ripped off a couple big runs by hiding behind his line and utilizing his speed. There may not be a true workhorse in the bunch, but all three have that vital skill, speed, to spare... if they can stay on the field.

Defensive revitalization

If you haven’t paid attention to Fresno State’s practices thus far, the one thing that’s stood out is the startling amount of turnovers the defense has forced. Today was no exception, with two interceptions by presumed starting free safety Deshawn Potts and Mike Bell (a pick-six) and several forced fumbles.

The secondary looks like it could be back to its old ballhawking ways and has been much improved on open field tackles. More surprisingly, the defensive line has been ferocious: Nathan Madsen, Malik Forrester and Nick Kristoffers had the better of the offensive line all morning, and the lead quarterbacks, Chason Virgil and Zach Kline, rarely had time to run their all of their reads.

Inside linebacker Jeff Camilli was the most notable absence from the scrimmage, but it gave another young recruit, Jeff Allison, more time to shine. Take notice, because there could be some big hitters in the middle of the defense.

Yes, the quarterback race is ongoing

It took a while for the offense to gain traction, and while both Virgil and Kline had late successes, neither did much to separate themselves. Part of that may have been by design — the aforementioned injuries at running back may have contributed to some offensive conservatism — but the constant pressure tended to move them off their spot in the pocket.

Virgil can run, no doubt, and even Kline showed some mobility, but there’s still plenty of practice left to find out who can stand in and make the tough throw.

If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

A brief recap of Fresno State's first fall scrimmage, plus... questions?

Publicado por Mountain West Connection em Sábado, 13 de agosto de 2016