Fast forward to five years later and I as a Bulldog fan cannot wait for game day Saturdays to arrive. When we are kids we anticipate things such as Halloween or Christmas because of the excitement that is involved. As we age our excitement is funneled into different avenues in life. One of the avenues that I have enjoyed more so than any other is watching Derek Carr
play football for the Bulldogs. I do not like watching Carr play football because of how well he throws the ball or because of the fact that he has led the 2013 Bulldogs to a 9-0 record. I enjoy watching Derek Carr play football for Fresno State
because he is the epitome of a true Bulldog.
We all know Derek's story. ESPN covers it nearly every week as the Bulldogs have made more national appearances in 2013 than they have the last three years combined. Each time Fresno State is on ESPN we see that Derek Carr is David's younger brother. We find out time after time that Derek's goal was to beat Boise State and lead Fresno State to a conference championship. We find out that Carr's goal this season was to somehow lead the Bulldogs to a BCS game. We find out that Carr at the age of ten was on the football field with David and the Bulldogs growing up around the program. But as Fresno State Bulldog fans we all know these stories about Carr. No, Derek Carr's god given talent to play the game of football is not why I have thoroughly enjoyed every season he has taken the field as a Bulldog. Instead, the man Derek has become over the course of his time as a Bulldog is what resonates with me as a fan far more than any other accomplishments he has achieved on the football field.
2013 has had its fair share of excitement as a Bulldog fan. While we would generally enjoy one blow out after another, that just wouldn't be true Bulldog football. Fresno State throughout its history has had the knack for playing close games and finding ways to lose in the final minutes of regulation. In the first game of the season Fresno State found itself in a battle with Rutgers. Carr was able to lead the Bulldogs to a 52-51 win in overtime. At that point in the season the only thing we knew as fans of the Bulldogs was that Carr was going to achieve numbers that had rarely been seen in the city of Fresno. Only three weeks later Fresno State would take the field against Boise State, a team that had ruined so many of Fresno State's seasons in the past. Just as they had so many times before, Boise took the lead over Fresno State 40-34 in the fourth quarter with five minutes remaining. But something was different this time. This wasn't the same Fresno State Bulldogs team as we had seen in the past. This Bulldog team had Derek Carr calling the plays.
On the final offensive possession of the game Derek Carr was near perfect. The only passes that were incomplete were dropped by Bulldog receivers. In fact I remember a conversation with my wife that took place on the final drive of the game for the Bulldogs offense.
My wife asked me the following question:
"Are you worried that you will lose the game now?"
In the past the answer to this question would have been I know we are going to lose the game on this drive. But this time was different. This time my answer came out in a manner that even I was surprised by. I responded:
"I am not worried we are going to lose on this drive. I am worried Derek Carr will lead us downfield too quickly leaving Boise's offense enough time to win the game."
In that one sentence I was able to understand what Derek Carr meant to the Bulldogs. In 2001 David Carr took the Bulldogs to heights that we as fans had never experienced. But during that season I had the feeling that at the end of games the Bulldogs would find a way to lose games they should not have. 2013 is the first time in my life I have ever had the feeling that if the game is close our Bulldogs will come out on top and I contribute that to the leadership Derek Carr has brought to this team. I realize that coaching, playing as a complete team, and the overall atmosphere of Bulldog football have all contributed to the huge turnaround this team has seen over the past two seasons. But even with all of these aspects going well, this team would not be 9-0 and ranked #15 in the BCS without Derek Carr as its QB.
In closing I am not writing this tribute to Carr because of what he has done on the football field. I am writing it to say thank you for breathing life back into the city of Fresno. In 2011 the college football atmosphere had dropped to the lowest levels I can remember in my time as a Bulldog fan. Bulldog fans needed something to get excited about. Head coach Tim DeRuyter came in and changed the face of Bulldog football overnight. However, Deruyter would not have been able to make such large scale changes so quickly if he did not have one of the more mature, experienced, and driven leaders in the locker room there with him. Derek Carr is a leader on the football field. Derek Carr is the type of player that any head coach would die to have calling the plays on the field. Off the field Derek Carr is a father and a husband. But just as importantly Derek Carr is a fan of the Fresno State Bulldogs. Carr loves the Bulldogs just as much as any of us do as fans. How fitting is it that the one QB that has given this team shot at a BCS game is also one of the biggest Bulldog fans you will ever meet? Derek Carr is the type of Bulldog we hope every player that dons the jersey will be: a homegrown talent that loves the team he plays for just as much as we love the Fresno State Bulldogs ourselves. Thank you Derek Carr, we will always remember you as the true Bulldog that you are.
In 2009 I was given the opportunity to travel to Bakersfield to watch Derek Carr play as a senior for Bakersfield Christian. While Carr was unable to lead Bakersfield Christian to a win over California power Oaks Christian, I saw all I needed to see to understand that if given the chance to play in Fresno Carr would be the type of QB the city of Fresno would never forget.
Bulldog Playbook Takes a Look at the Career of Derek Carr.