Courtesy of Fresno State Athletics
FRESNO, Calif. - Over the last two weeks head coach Pat Hill has been working with his team in live situational scrimmages, including third downs and short yardage situations.
On Saturday, he included more situations like two-minute and "redzone" drills.
The live scrimmage, held at Bulldog Stadium, wrapped up the spring ball session for the team. The majority of the scrimmage was dominated by the defense, which made key stops and created two turnovers. Nearly 2,500 fans attended the scrimmage on a beautiful sunny day in Fresno.
"We had a very productive spring," said Hill afterward. "We made some great progress as a team and I like where we are right now. The only problem is that we go 90 days without being able to work with the players, so really what happens in the next 90 days to make us a better football team will totally depend on what they want to accomplish. We have a great plan in place and they need to execute it."
The first portion of the scrimmage was a last second drill in which the offense had the ball with 1:30 on the clock and one timeout needing to drive 75 yards in order to get field goal. The Bulldog defense halted both drives, the first when stopping the offense on a fourth down play and other when junior All-WAC kicker Kevin Goessling missed a 36-yard field goal attempt that struck the right upright.
In the over-the-field segment of eight series, the defense forced two turnovers and made the offense punt three times, two of those coming in 3-and-out scenarios. The offense scored two touchdowns on an 18-yard run by Michael Harris and Ryan Colburn directed a nice 69-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Devon Wylie in the back of the end zone.
The Bulldog offense was effective in the red zone situation, scoring three touchdowns and kicking two field goals.
Leading the defense was redshirt freshman cornerback L.J. Jones, who had a 24-yard interception for a touchdown, made several solo tackles and batted away a pass on the goal line that would have been a touchdown.
Matt Akers and All-WAC end Chris Carter made quarterback sacks in the scrimmage. Senior cornerback Desia Dunn led the Dogs with five tackles.
"We had some guys flying around on the field today and there were some big hits," said Hill. "It was physical out there. L.J. Jones had a great spring and we saw today a little of what he can do. We have several young guys in the secondary who have a chance to be very good players before it's all over. Some of our young linebackers got a lot of work. They have a ways to go, but we got them some valuable reps."
The offense wasn't without highlights, led by senior receiver Devon Wylie who caught three touchdowns and Robbie Rouse who had some exciting plays and scored on a 1 yard run. Rouse finished the scrimmage with runs of 48 and 24 yards.
Fresno State's two quarterbacks, Colburn and sophomore Derek Carr, the the majority of snaps, each playing with the first and second units. Both had fine moments in the scrimmage. Carr completed 8-of-11 passes for 92 yards with touchdown passes of 16 and 15 yards to Wylie, both coming in the red zone portion of the scrimmage.
Colburn connect on 14 passes in 23 attempts for 97 yards, one a 13-yard touchdown to Wylie. He also had the only interception in the game.
Wylie led all receivers with seven receptions, nearly half of those for touchdowns. He finished with 74 yards.
Jamel Hamler had three receptions for 17 yards and tight end Ryan Skidmore had the longest reception of the day, a 38-yarder from Carr.
"I thought both of our quarterbacks had great springs," said Hill. "Ryan Colburn is a rock. He's gotten better and really has a command of our offense. As you can see, Derek Carr has a tremendous arm and is going to be a great player before he leaves Fresno State. We have a great situation at quarterback. Robbie Rouse is an exciting back. He's really something. He's worked hard to get strong and learned his assignments. He's ready to take over for Ryan (Mathews). I really like how Michael Harris and A.J. Ellis have improved at running back as well. "
The Dogs are off until they report to fall training camp the first week in August.