Offensive Line Struggles without Helepiko

Offensive Line Struggles without Helepiko

SAN FRANCISCO – Starting center Richard Helepiko went down in the first half with an ankle injury said Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. The injury forced the Bulldogs coaches to bring in redshirt freshman Cody Wichmann and shift three linemen in the process…

The Fresno State offense changed its pace in the second half despite facing a three-touchdown deficit. The Bulldogs failed to establish a run game early negating the play action pass at any point during the game. That allowed the Cal defense to tee off on quarterback Derek Carr. However, once starting center Richard Helepiko left the game in the first half with an injury it eliminated the 50 protection.

"He got his ankle rolled and I really don't know how it happened," Fresno State head coach Pat Hill said after ‘Dogs 36-21 loss to Cal.

Starting right guard Leslie Cooper moved to center, starting right tackle Austin Wentworth moved to right guard, and redshirt freshman Cody Wichmann made his Bulldog debut at right tackle.

"Once Richard [Helepiko] went down, it was new things for Cody [Wichmann] to learn," said Carr. "I thought he did a good job…he doesn't want me to get hit. He is working his butt off. It is not his fault. He is young and he is going to learn from it and we are going to move on."

The FS offensive line didn't yield a sack in the first half but gave up four in the second half with Wichmann on the line.

Hill doesn't know how long Helepiko will be out of the lineup. His loss limited the Bulldogs use of four or five receiver sets when the Bulldogs trailed 36-14 in the fourth quarter.

Fresno State worked on the 50 protection – only five offensive linemen blocking – throughout fall camp. But the coaches had to scratch it once Cooper and Wichmann moved to new positions.

"We started out well, but once Richard went down, it was new for those guys who were shifting positions," added Carr.

But it wasn't just the o-line that played poorly. Bulldog receivers continually dropped passes or slipped in the open field. And the Cal defense deserves a lot of the credit. Despite pressing Carr and totaling 12 tackles for loss, the defensive backs blanketed the Bulldogs receivers.

Special Team Notes

  • Cody Wichmann did have some bright spots. He blocked two extra points in the first quarter.

  • Kevin Goessling missed a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter.
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