Bulldogs finish up spring, call on starting QB could come soon
Fresno State wrapped up its 15 spring practices on Saturday with its quarterback competition still in development. But coach Jeff Tedford said a call on a starter could come sooner rather than later, which would give a Bulldogs offense that loses eight of 11 starters a chance to go into summer workouts with a clear direction and leader.
“It’d be good to have someone who can assume that leadership role in workouts and so on and so forth,” Tedford said.
Three players are vying to replace Marcus McMaryion.
Senior Jorge Reyna started the spring at the head of a competition with redshirt freshmen Ben Wooldridge and Steven Comstock, based on limited experience in 2018.
Reyna played in 10 games last season behind starter Marcus McMaryion and completed 8 of 12 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown, the score a perfect 33-yard strike to Derrion Grim in an opening rout of Idaho.
All three quarterbacks had a shaky first spring scrimmage working behind a banged-up offensive line, and as the Bulldogs worked through the spring Reyna and Wooldridge were getting No. 1 and No. 2 reps with Comstock mostly with the second unit. Hunter Raquet, a sophomore, also was in the competition at the start of the spring, but left the program after the first practice.
“Ben, Steven and I, we’re all going at it,” Reyna said. “They all understand the playbook. They all bring different elements to the game and it’s fun. No one is comfortable with the job yet. Everybody is fighting. Each day we’re going after it. We see the numbers. They’re all the same, but we’re all constantly trying to one-up each other.”
ROOM FOR ONE MORE?
Reyna, who was the first player to commit to Fresno State after Tedford was hired, said he is not taking anything for granted – especially since the Bulldogs landed McMaryion in 2017 as a transfer from Oregon State when already well into fall camp.
Most FBS programs carry four or five scholarship quarterbacks. The Bulldogs, with just the three quarterbacks on scholarship, could dip into the NCAA transfer portal this summer if another player with the upside of a McMaryion pops up as programs finish their spring
practices. Or, Fresno State could bring in an FBS or junior college transfer.
“You never know,” Tedford said. “These days with the portal and things like that, things come up all the time, but it’s not something that we’re looking at every day.”
Reyna said, “Just like Coach Tedford said, everything is open until he makes the final call. There’s no, ‘Well, this guy is taking one reps …’ There’s nothing like that. It’s until Coach Tedford says, ‘Hey, this is who we’re going with,’ then we have a depth chart. Everything is open until he says it.”
It will be a critical summer for the Bulldogs’ next quarterback working toward the 2019 season with an inexperienced set of receivers and learning when and how to adjust routes, how they come out of breaks.
Grim has played in 27 games and has 20 career receptions and two touchdowns, modest numbers but also the most in that receivers’ room. The others in the group are sophomores Patrick Elima-Jeune, Chris Coleman and Zane Pope, redshirt freshmen Emoryie Edwards and Ricardo Arias and freshman Rodney Wright III along with senior walk-on Frank Dalena, junior Kevin Parker and redshirt freshman Erik Brooks.
Coleman played in nine games last season and caught four passes, but none of the Bulldogs’ other receivers has caught a pass at the FBS level.
Reyna said the Bulldogs receivers had a productive spring and hit their spring break in good shape.
“They’re understanding the situations, how we want to route, the difference between a zone and a man, what we’re looking for, what we’re expecting in a certain look.
“They understand, ‘Hey, when we get a different look we’re going to have to look at the quarterback because we are going to change the play.’ They’re understanding that a whole lot quicker than last year and it allows us to adjust against a defense a whole lot quicker and really exploit matchups.”
Redshirt freshman Marc-David Bien-Amie, one of three offensive linemen to miss the spring due to injury, will likely miss the 2019 season.
Bien-Amie had knee surgery and is not expected back until November at the earliest.
Fresno State quarterback Jorge Reyna throws during the final spring practice at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday. Coach Jeff Tedford said a decision on a starting quarterback could come sooner rather than later.
Fresno State head coach Jeff Tedford throws to wide receiver Zane Pope during the final spring practice at Bulldog Stadium on Saturday.