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2013 Fresno State Preview –Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 3, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Fresno State Bulldog Offense


Fresno State Bulldogs

Preview 2013 - Offense


- 2013 Fresno State Preview | 2013 Fresno State Offense
- 2013 Fresno State Defense | 2013 Fresno State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: After finishing 16th in the nation in total offense and 17th in scoring, the potential is there to be even better. The line has an all-star in Austin Wentworth at left tackle to work around, and enough quickness and experience to be a bit stronger in pass protection while doing the job for the ground game. Workhorse Robbie Rouse is gone, but the combination of Marteze Waller and Josh Quezada should get the job done. The running attack will be fine, but it’ll be the passing attack that makes the offense devastating, getting back quarterback Derek Carr for one more season with an unstoppable receiving corps to work with. Davante Adams is coming off a breakout year, but the return of Josh Harper from injury should up the passing production even more.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Derek Carr
344-511, 4,104 yds, 37 TD, 7 INT
Rushing: Marteze Waller
41 carries, 174 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Davante Adams
102 catches, 1,312 yds, 14 TD

Star of the offense: Senior QB Derek Carr
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore RB Marteze Waller
Unsung star on the rise: Senior TE Marcel Jensen
Best pro prospect: Carr
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Carr, 2) WR Davante Adams, 3) OT Austin Wentworth
Strength of the offense: Passing, Receiving Corps
Weakness of the offense: Proven Running Backs, Line Depth

Quarterbacks

It was a mediocre class of NFL quarterbacks – evidenced by several big names sliding – but senior Derek Carr could’ve been ahead of the pack. The brother of former No. 1 overall pick, David Carr, doesn’t have the same arm or the same raw talent, but he has terrific pro potential with 6-3, 210-pound size, better mobility, and a good enough gun to get by. The hope was that he'd take his game to another level after throwing for 3,515 yards and 26 scores with nine picks in 2011, and he did with a terrific campaign hitting a whopping 67% of his passes for 4,104 yards and 37 scores with seven picks.

He showed better decision-making ability, and good deep arm and lots and lots of production, hitting 300 yards or more – with 298 against Weber State – seven times including a 536-yard, five touchdown whopper against San Diego State and 400+ yard, four score days against Air Force and New Mexico. While he’s coming off a two-pick day in the Hawaii Bowl disaster against SMU, he’s careful with the ball and doesn’t make any big mistakes, and now it’s salary drive time. The 2014 crop of pro quarterbacks doesn’t appear to be anything special, and Carr can boost his stock in a big way with one more huge season.

Junior Greg Watson got in a little bit of mop-up work, but he didn’t do much for the passing game hitting a mere 7-of-22 passes for 128 yards and a score. However, his worth is as a runner, able to be used in a variety of packages and with the potential to step in and take off when needed. At 5-10 and 211 pounds, he’s built like a running back and moved to wide receiver before the bowl game, catching five passes for 48 yards in the loss. He’ll still be used as a backup receiver, but he also needs to be at the ready in case something disastrous happens to Carr.

Watson is a decent fill-in, but he’s not going to take over the quarterback job next season and the coaching staff would prefer to hand the ball to a different option in an emergence. That’s where JUCO transfer Brian Burrell comes in. the 6-4, 210-pounder comes in from Bakersfield College, where he came back from a broken collarbone to throw for 2,555 yards and 27 scores with seven picks last season. He’s a tall pure passer who can step in and take over if needed.

Watch Out For … true freshman Zack Greenlee. He won’t be used this season, and he might not even be ready to roll next year if Burrell proves to be good enough to take over the gig, but down the road there’s a chance to be special. At 6-1 and 183 pounds he’s not big, but he’s lightning fast and extremely accurate, getting the honor of going to the Elite 11 Camp and showing he could hold his own. A smart, tough, dual-threat playmaker, if he was bigger he’d have had his pick of any school to go to.
Strength: Carr. He’s an NFL starting quarterback who’s still at Fresno State. The Bulldogs should be able to win games just because they’ll almost always have the best player on the field working under center.
Weakness: The backup situation. Watson isn’t the answer to work as anything more than a curveball option. Burrell is JUCO ready, but he still needs to prove he can get the job done in the system, and Greenlee might need a little seasoning and certainly doesn’t want to burn a redshirt.
Outlook: With a loaded receiving corps to work with, Carr should be on the All-America short list with the upside to come up with another 4,000-yard season if everything goes according to plan. No, the backup situation might not be secured, but there’s a talented array of options to work with if needed.
Unit Rating: 8.5

Running Backs

Robbie Rouse did everything for the running game last season, but sophomore Marteze Waller had a few nice moments, finishing second on the team with 174 yards and a score averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The 5-11, 205-pounder is very smart, very quick, and with the upside to put up Rouse-like numbers. The Georgia native was a high school superstar who tore off yards in chunks, and he should be able to thrive with more work.

Unlike Rouse, who handled most of the work, Waller will combine forces this year with 5-11, 225-pound junior Josh Quezada ready to be added to the mix after starting out his career at BYU rushing for 298 yards as a freshman. Very quick with good size and great hands, he can be used in a variety of ways.

Watch Out For … freshman Dontel James. While not considered a superstar recruit, that’s partly because he was hurt for the first part of his senior year. A power back who can barrel through the interior, he’s a pounder who can tear off big yards in chunks and could grow into a dangerous goal line runner early on.
Strength: The combination. Waller and Quezada are each good enough to handle the workload on their own, but for the most part they should be able to complement each other well and produce when called upon. The two should more than be able to make up for the loss of …
Weakness: Robbie Rouse. The diminutive workhorse accounted for 1,490 of the team’s 1,975 rushing yards and 12 of the 19 touchdowns. He could also catch, finishing second on the team with 63 grabs. The system and the line should lead the way to a good season for the ground game, but Rouse was a playmaker.
Outlook: The offense will revolve around the passing game, but the backs will be in place to potentially do even more for the ground attack. Rouse might have been special, but he was a one-man gang. The chance is there to potentially crank out more than the 2,318 yards of last season with more of a rotation.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Receivers

Sophomore Davante Adams was just a throw-in recruit out of Palo Alto. With a lack of focus and academic concerns, his 6-2, 200-pound size, sub-4.5 speed and next level athleticism were ignored throughout the recruiting process. But Fresno State didn’t give up, and then when everything as straightened out, Adams became more than just a good prospect and a nice get. Everything worked out perfectly, blowing up for 102 catches, 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns with six 100-yard games, four in the last five, and 13 catches for 144 yards and a score in the bowl loss to SMU. A home-run hitter who can make big plays from anywhere on the field, he’ll take what defenses give him while also possessing the deep speed to take the top off a D. Even though he’ll be a marked man this season, the rest of the Fresno State receivers are too good to allow defenses to focus too much on the burgeoning superstar.

Senior Isaiah Burse had a big season that got lost in the shuffle because of all the big things Adams did. The 6-0, 179-pound veteran is an ultra-quick target who came up with some huge plays, averaging 15 yards per catch making 57 grabs for 851 yards and six touchdowns with 158 yards against Air Force and 107 against Colorado. A jack-of-all-trades type, he can be used as a runner from time-to-time, scoring on a 15-yard dash against Wyoming, but his main role is as a No. 2 receiver. He’ll be backed up by sophomore Aaron Peck, a 6-3, 215-pound athlete who was a star high school basketball player with the upside to grow into a dangerous receiver.

6-1, 182-pound junior Josh Harper blew off a slew of Pac-12 schools to come to Fresno State, and with size, speed and talent, everything is in place to become a major producer after suffering a hamstring injury that limited him to just five games. He dominated in his limited action catching seven passes for 115 yards and a score against Tulsa and nine grabs for 120 yards and a touchdown a week later against San Diego State. In only five games, he came up with 24 catches for 333 yards and four scores, and now he’s healthy and ready to do far more. He’ll be backed up by junior Greg Watson, the backup quarterback who’ll fill in at receiver as long as he’s not needed under center. He got into the rotation late in the year finishing with nine catches for 98 yards.

Senior tight end Marcel Jensen has prototype 6-6, 257-pound size and nice hands, growing into a reliable target as last season went on finishing with 20 catches for 339 yards and four scores, coming up with 16 of the grabs over the final eight games. While he’s built to be a big blocker, he can stretch the seam averaging 17 yards per catch. Backing him up will be junior Riley Barnes, a 6-3, 250-pound receive who can hit, but should do more for the passing game after catching two passes for 19 yards.

Watch Out For … the reemergence of Harper. Allow me to reintroduce myself. Harper was on his way to having a phenomenal season before getting hurt, and Adams picked up the slack. Don’t be shocked if Adams’ numbers dip as Harper grows back into a bigger role.
Strength: Targets for Derek Carr. Talk about going through the progressions, Carr can look at Adams, option off to Burse, look deep for Harper or even use Jensen as an outlet. There’s a terrific array of targets to work with.
Weakness: High expectations? It’s nitpicking, but with all the talent and all the skill returning, anything less than total dominance on a regular basis will be considered a major disappointment. This group can’t rest on its press clippings, and it has to stay healthy. The depth is a wee bit lacking with a massive drop from the ones to the twos.
Outlook: Yeeeeeeesh. If everyone stays healthy, this could be among the nation’s best receiving corps with size, speed, athleticism and a world of talent. As long as Harper can stay healthy, everything is in place for a huge season, and for opposing defenses to freak out on a weekly basis. On a team full of major plusses, this should be the biggest strength.
Unit Rating: 9

Offensive Line

The line was fine, but it has to be stronger in pass protection starting with senior Austin Wentworth, 6-5, 299-pound first-team All-Mountain West performer who did a terrific job of growing into the role who spent the first part of his career working at right tackle and guard. While he could stand to be a bit bigger, he has a great frame and the right athleticism to do even more to keep Derek Carr upright. Joining him on the left side is guard Bo Bonnheim, a smart, promising blocker who worked on special teams last season but has the potential to be a steady starter for the next three seasons. At 6-2 and 279 pounds, he’s not big, but he’s strong, athletic and feisty, great at using his frame in leverage.

Back at right guard will be veteran Cody Wichmann, a 6-6, 318-pound junior who started most of last season at right tackle before moving over to guard for the final five games. Very big and very strong, he’s great for the ground game and extremely reliable, but he has to be a bit better against the quicker interior pass rushers.

Senior Lars Bramer started the first seven games of the season at center and saw time late in the year, but now the job will be all his. At 6-5 and 274 pounds, he’s built like a tackle, and while he doesn’t have the bulk for the position, he’s extremely smart and has a nice frame. Now he has to become a tougher run blocker, while 6-5, 295-pound senior Matt Saenz brings a little more bulk and the experience from the JUCO ranks, working at Fullerton College before seeing a little time as a backup.

There will be a rotation at right tackle with 6-5, 279-pound sophomore Justin Northern and 6-4, 290-pound sophomore Alex Fifita combining for the spot. With more size and five games of starting experience over the second half of last year, Fifita got his feet wet as a true freshman and did a decent job, but he needs to be more consistent in pass protection – that will come in time. Northern still needs more time, and he has to add more bulk to his frame, but he’s a great talent with good athleticism, spurning USC and Oregon to become a Bulldog.

Watch Out For … new recruit Josh Tremblay. Kolby Drew and Sean Rubalcava are decent JUCO transfers to help the tackle situation, but it’s the 6-5, 285-pound Tremblay who should make the most immediate impact. He’ll start out backing up Wentoworth at left tackle, but he’s a natural guard and could take over a starting spot in the interior.
Strength: Quickness. This isn’t a line full of behemoths, but while it’s not a beefy group, it’s big enough to get by. By design, it’s an athletic line that moves well and can get out on the move to spring the running game, however, the line has to be better in …
Weakness: Pass protection. The offense threw the ball a whopping 535 times, to giving up 29 sacks really isn’t that bad. However, the front five had a nightmare of a time against SMU, allowing seven sacks, and had problems the other three losses giving up eight sacks. The line allowed 14 in the ten wins.
Outlook: There might be depth concerns, and left guard and right tackle have to be settled, but the line should be solid. It’s not going to be a brick wall against the more creative, athletic pass rushers, but it’ll do a decent job for the ground game and will hold its own on a regular basis. There are enough good parts to expect a consistent season.
Unit Rating: 6.5

- 2013 Fresno State Preview | 2013 Fresno State Offense
- 2013 Fresno State Defense | 2013 Fresno State Depth Chart