Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fresno State of Affairs: Quarterbacks

It's never too soon to look ahead to next year -- especially when us Bulldog Bouncers are always thinking years in advance when it comes to Fresno State football. So we'll examine each position, whether fans can expect an improvement or a drop off next year and touch on the up and comers. As always, we encourage your opinions as well.

Key Losses: None
Fresno State of Affairs 2010: Slightly Improved

Once again this will be the most magnified position at Fresno State in the offseason. But this year it won't be because there's no experienced starter -- it'll be because people are questioning whether the incumbent is a better starting choice than the much ballyhooed youngster? And whoever does get the nod will have more responsibility now that Ryan Mathews is headed to the NFL, and the Bulldogs will be less reliable on the run.

Senior Ryan Colburn (6-3, 220) started all 13 games for the Bulldogs in 2009, throwing for 2,459 yards and 19 touchdowns while completing 61% of his passes. The one downside -- and it's a big one -- were his nine interceptions, many of which came at the most inopportune times. Namely, there was the double overtime pick that cost the Bulldogs a win at Wisconsin, the game-opening pick-six against Boise State and the pick near the 5-yard line that ended a go-ahead drive at Cincinnati. As a second-year starter though, it's likely Colburn will improve his decision making and ball security. Taking that into consideration, Colburn still proved to be an upgrade from Tom Brandstater the previous three seasons. Colburn's competitive spirit, leadership and presence among teammates makes him an ideal leader. But the question remains, is there an even better option waiting in the wings?

It's now clear that all the hype about Derek Carr (6-3, 190) during his true freshman season was merited. While Carr got few opportunities to prove himself in game situations (especially late in the year), he displayed more tools and ability than any other quarterback on the roster in fall camp. Carr finished the season having completed 10 of 14 passes (two of which were drops) for a 71% completion percentage and a total of 112 yards in five games. It's unfortunate he didn't get more live game looks, because now Colburn has the decided experience advantage and it would be tough to justify starting over developing a quarterback. Still, Carr can be expected to develop quicker than the average prospect -- he's a special talent. And even if he's not the starter again in 2010, it'll be fascinating to see how coach Pat Hill handles his situation (please Hill, if you're not going to start Carr, redshirt him so he can start the next three years instead of two).

The X-factor of the group remains in sophomore Ebahn Feathers (6-0, 210), who has now become somewhat of a mystery regarding his status in the program. The most attentive fans noticed he wasn't on the sidelines for the home finale win over Louisiana Tech or the road finale win at Illinois. Word on local radio shows was that Feathers had some personal matters to take care of, and he said on 1430 ESPN it wasn't a matter of grades. However, Feathers did dress for the New Mexico Bowl, but didn't play. Assuming he's back at the quarterback position next season (we have no reason to believe otherwise right now), Feathers still poses a huge threat as a runner, but needs to prove how bad he wants playing time by putting in the offseason work on his passing skills. Feathers played in seven games in his first season of action, running for 57 yards (5.2 per carry) and a touchdown and passing for 7 yards and a score while completing 2 of 3 attempts.

In the two games Feathers didn't dress, he was replaced on the sideline by walk-on Tyler Stirewalt (6-1, 190), who saw no action. Stirewalt isn't likely to see playing time unless an emergency situation comes up, but did show he can hold his own against the scout team during the Spring Game.

Rounding out the depth chart looks like it will be verbal commitment Marcus McDade (6-3, 195) out of St. Mary's High in Stockton (it won't be official until he signs on National Letter of Intent Day Feb. 3). McDade was rated by one scouting service as the fifth strongest high school arm in the country (see video). It would be ideal for the Bulldogs, and for McDade, if he greyshirted this year, redshirted in 2011 and then had two or three years to potentially start once Carr graduates.


  1. I think Colburn should be the starter next year. I think the interceptions calmed down a bit later in the year and were due to inexperience and poor decision making. This sort of thing will sort itself out and I believe he will be a very, very good QB next year.

    If Carr was not such a special QB prospect I would say not to red shirt him and get him some more game experience next year...but since he could be a special QB, I say red-shirt him!

    Feathers, if he can get straightend out academically and works on his accuracy will do as a backup just fine next year. After next year, he may want to consider switching positions if he has NFL hopes.

  2. Looks like Feathers is sticking around!


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