`Dogs Making Strides Early In Camp

Aug. 4, 2012

By Jason Clay

FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State defense responded to the coaches challenge on Saturday during the second practice of fall camp and head coach Tim DeRuyter felt his team made big strides from the first day to the second.

"We did some good things yesterday with some carryover from the spring, but today we took a good step," DeRuyter said. "We played faster and we challenged our defense to force more takeaways."

Fresno State's defense was able to force three fumbles and came away with one interception.

"Just having that constant battle of forcing takeaways will make our offense more conscious of it, but I thought our defense today did a good job of that," DeRuyter said.

Defensive coordinator Nick Toth and defensive line coach Pete Germano are very happy with their first-string defensive line that consists of Tyeler Davison, Nikko Motta and Anthony Williams. On Saturday, it was the second unit that caught the eyes of the coaching staff.

That is a good sign as the Bulldogs look to have no drop-off from the first to second teams.

Senior defensive end Matt Akers forced a fumble that outside linebacker Travis Brown recovered. Andy Jennings made back-to-back plays that fired up Germano, the second play being a tackle for a loss. Ryan Boschma, the other defensive end on the second unit, is fitting in nicely at his new position. Boschma played tight end last season, but moved to defense end during spring football.

Even with the turnovers, DeRuyter was happy with how the offense performed in Saturday's practice as well.

"Offensively we had some guys make some big plays," DeRuyter said. "Things happened on both sides of the ball which was good to see."

Redshirt freshman Davante Adams made a highlight catch with cornerback Sean Alston draped on him step-for-step deep down the field. Tight end Riley Barnes made a big catch up the middle that got the offense fired up.

"This is my fourth camp since I've been here and these first two days of practice have been far better than any other first two days of camp," junior quarterback Derek Carr said.

Other notes from Saturday's practice...
• Senior strong safety Cristin Wilson used his speed to force a fumble in the team session, as he stripped a wide receiver of the ball catching up to him from behind on a seem route. Wilson is one of the two fastest players on the team, running a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash.
• Right with Wilson at the top of the speed chart is sophomore Anthony Riggins, who has switched positions. He was a defensive back last year who played in 10 games on special teams, but moved over to wide receiver after spring ball.
• Senior offensive lineman Matt Hunt, who missed most of the spring with a leg injury, is back at 100 percent. DeRuyter gave Hunt a good endorsement for how hard he worked this summer. Hunt started seven games last season at guard and has played in 27 games on the line during his career.
• The Bulldog secondary has looked pretty solid so far in camp under secondary coach Tim McDonald and assistant defensive backs coach Jordan Peterson. Phillip Thomas and Derron Smith appear poised for big seasons and Smith make several pass breakups Saturday. At corner, L.J. Jones is back from offseason surgery and has looked strong and confident through two days of camp. Alston is working with the No. 1 defense at the other corner position and is off to a good camp thus far as well.
• Senior Tristan Okpalaugo is making the change from defensive end in the old 4-3 defense to outside linebacker in the new 3-4. At 6-6 and 250 pounds, his length could give opposing offense's problems in the passing game. Okpalaugo has the quickness to get out in coverage and he used his lengthy arms on Saturday to break up a slant pass.

"Discover Fresno State Football" - Fresno State season tickets are now on sale for as low as $140, less than $24 per game, through the Bulldog Ticket Office, online at GoBulldogs.com and can be purchased over the phone at 559-278-DOGS.