Heimer in the Backfield

Malique Micenheimer moves to RB

Running back Robbie Rouse earned more carries than any other Bulldog in school history over the last four seasons and leaves a big hole to be filled. Five running backs are making their case this spring to fill the void…

The favorite, Marteze Waller, has been limited with a lower-quad injury suffered in the second week of spring. This has opened the door for redshirt freshman T.J. Thomas, BYU-transfer Josh Quezada, and junior Darryl Cash. But the most intriguing option; however, has been Malique Micenheimer.

Micenheimer was recruited to Fresno State in the class of 2011 as a linebacker. With his athleticism and a wrestling background, he looked to be a strong addition to the linebacker depth. Shortly before the 2011 season Micenheimer moved to fullback where he had to learn on the fly, but got to see the field immediately.

Micenheimer got a second chance at linebacker with a new coaching staff, but eventually wound up back at fullback by the season's end. Now in spring, head coach Tim DeRuyter has expanded Micenheimer's role by giving him a chance at running back.

"I played a little bit of running back in high school," Micenheimer explained. "It's just getting back to picking up pass [protection], running low, being able to read it. Its stuff I've done before, it's just that I have to get better at it."

There's still a few practices remaining in spring, but Micenheimer has impressed as a positional replacement at running back. He talked about the progress he's made through spring.

"I think I've progressed a lot so far, but I've still got a long way to go," said Micenheimer. "I've got to continue to work on my pass protection… seeing things that I wouldn't have seen when playing fullback."

The junior may not end up being the feature back in the offense, but he certainly gives the team a new option in the backfield. At 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, Micenheimer can be a power back that the program has lacked in recent years. His power has been felt already this spring by cornerback Sean Alston. Alston's spring came to an end after a collision with Micenheimer left him with an arm injury.

"In third and short… I thought Malique Micenheimer really ran the ball well," DeRuyter said after last Friday's practice. "He's starting to etch out a role for himself."

Micenheimer will continue to see the field at the fullback position as well. His experience with pass protection could earn him more snaps.

"I'm still playing fullback as well," said Micenheimer. "It helps out some on the power plays… [I'm] continuing to read blocks both at fullback and running back."

Pass protection in the backfield is a key concern for the offense, especially with questions in the offensive line. In previous seasons, Rouse's superior pass protection often kept other backs on the sideline in passing situations.

"As a group we're getting better with pass [protection], getting better with learning the plays so we're playing a lot faster."

Fresno State hopes that the running back situation will become clearer with the conclusion of spring with Saturday's spring game. The coaching staff has given all of the backs plenty of opportunities to this point.

"Right now they're giving us all pretty much the same reps," Micenheimer said. "We're trying to figure out different guys running style."

"We've still got fall camp. It's getting us all to learn it and continue to work hard as a group. I think that's the biggest thing."

Whether he becomes a part of the rotation at running back or is limited to snaps at fullback, Micenheimer is prepared to accept any role in the offense.

"Whatever the coaching staff want to do with me, I'm fine with that," Micenheimer explained. "Whether it's running it or blocking for another guy, it's fine, as long as we're winning."

Discuss in BarkBoard.com Forums.
If you have not by now, subscribe to BarkBoard.com. Click HERE to get access to the members-only content from BB.C and the nation-wide Scout.com network.
©Copyright 2013, BarkBoard.com and Scout.com. All rights reserved.

BarkBoard.com Recommended Stories