QBs Live for Saturday Scrimmage

Ryan Colburn

Fresno State will conduct it's second spring scrimmage on Saturday at noon. For the first time since head coach Pat Hill's initial season, the quarterbacks will be "live". Hill says Ryan Colburn and Derek Carr will see the most action with Ebahn Feathers seeing many reps in different formations as well as his series with the first and second team offense…

The quarterbacks are young and unproven. Coach Hill has never been one to have his quarterbacks "live." Saturday will be the first time since 1997 that the defense will have a chance to hit the quarterback.

"They have never played a game, I need to see them under pressure," said Hill. "They're going to be live in the pocket."

Hill says he will blow the whistle if the quarterbacks get into the clear about five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. But inside the pocket, don't expect to hear a whistle unless there is a penalty called.

"We're going to [simulate] a live situation as best as we can," said Hill.

Unofficially, it looks like Matt Faulkner is out of the quarterback race. Coach Hill reiterated that on Friday stating Ryan Colburn and Derek Carr would see most of the action on Saturday. And Ebahn Feathers will see time all over the field, not necessarily just at quarterback.

"They're going to run with their first team and second team," Hill said of Colburn and Carr. "Feathers is going to get his reps. Then anytime we want to put him, we are just going to put him in. We started playing him at the H-position too. We're going to do a lot with Ebahn Feathers; he's definitely in the equation. He does what we've never been able to do before."

The offense continues to be a work in progress, especially with a patchwork offense line. Starting right guard Andrew Jackson had back surgery last week and is out the next two months.

In his place, Devan Cunningham has slid from left guard to the right side. Starting right tackle Kenny Wiggins has also seen some time at right guard. Leslie Cooper took first team reps at right guard the first week of spring before Jackson had back surgery.

Cunningham was starting at left, but this week, Matthew Hunt has taken the first team reps in his place. Richard Helepiko and Max Devlin have are taking second and third team reps. Helepiko took first team reps the first week of spring. Charley Robbins and Richard Pacheco each started at left guard last season, but Robbins is rehabbing this spring and Pacheco is alternating with Joe Bernardi at center. Freshman center Douglas Spacht is taking the reps behind them.

The tackles for the most part are set. Wiggins is at right with Bryce Harris taking practically all the first team reps at left tackle. Harris is the only tackle that has not flipped positions. Freshmen Trevor Richter and Austin Wentworth are the backups. They have both played left and right tackle this spring. Cunningham saw reps at both tackle spots before Jackson's surgery.

Having issues with the offensive line has somewhat slowed the offense's progress. The quarterbacks and the skill players must compensate for the line's constant shifting. Nonetheless, Coach Hill added many new wrinkles to the offense this week in practice. We can expect more zone read, pistol, 4 and 5-wide, and option on Saturday and in the Spring Game next week.

"There's still a lot of experimenting going on," said Hill. "We want to do more of that in the final Saturday scrimmage, but we're working on it.

"We got quarterbacks who can run, which is the first time since David Carr. [Paul] Pinegar wasn't a runner neither was Tommy [Brandstater]. We got a whole new dimension. We are experimenting with some new things. It's opened up some new areas for us, which is going to be exciting.

"We got a guy (Feathers) who can [run the zone read and option]. I think Colburn can do it – he's not as fast – but he's runner. And so is Carr. There was no use trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole before."

Saturday's scrimmage will be broken down into three phases.

  • "Live" Scrimmage – "When he had veteran guys, we just work on down and distance," said Coach Pat Hill. "We are just going to run until they have to punt it."

    The Bulldogs will go through nine series of the offense moving the ball against the defense with the quarterbacks "live". A series could be as short as a three-and-out or as long as it takes the offense to score. After a defensive stop, punter Robert Malone will come out and punt against "air". He will likely work on the rugby style punt the ‘Dogs have added this spring.

  • Two-Minute Offense – "We are going to put the ball at the 50 yard line with one minute and no timeouts," said Hill.

    Again, the quarterbacks will be live in this "two-minute" offense simulation.

  • Compete Zone Offense – "We'll go five series in the compete zone," said Hill.

    The ball is placed at the 25 and the offense will attempt to score at touchdown or field goal. Quarterbacks will also be live during this drill.

  • In all, the scrimmage should be 80-100 plays depending on the length of the "live" scrimmage.

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