Did you notice we added our twitter feed to the right column of this blog? Rad huh?
- Freshman Greg Watson, after eight days of camp, has arguably surpassed Ebahn Feathers' throwing ability already. We like to compare the two because they're similar in stature and skill set. Still, our guess for now is Watson redshirts this year.
- JC transfer Kelly O'Brien is vastly improved from his first several days of camp. The accuracy is starting to come along on intermediate routes and he's throwing a prettier ball (for those of you after the aesthetic appeal).
- Ryan Colburn continues to show poise and has become Mr. Encouragement out there to his teammates. He's got command of the team. That said, Derek Carr is still making throws no one else on the team can, as was the case on a quick snap and throw to the sideline to A.J. Johnson in tight coverage Thursday night.
Here, try on Ryan Mathews' shoes...
- UCLA transfer Milton Knox, who has to sit out this year per the transfer rule, is so quick, so fast and so good that he caused one Bulldog Bouncer to question whether the 'Dogs should consider redshirting Robbie Rouse next season to prevent a mass graduation of RBs after 2012?
- Speaking of Rouse -- he's grabbed the starting job by the reins. Cal transfer Tracy Slocum, who will play this year, continues to get first-team reps, but he hasn't yet shown the big-play ability Rouse and Knox (and even Michael Harris) have. Slocum also needs to work on holding onto the ball (we don't want him getting a case of the Lonyaes on us). On one play Wednesday evening, when Slocum was hit by Lorne Bell and Cornell Banks and fumbled, Banks yelled, "Send his [butt] back to Cal!"
- A.J. Ellis has had a knack for breaking off big plays the past couple days. He seems to be the fourth back right now, but is likely to find a niche in the offense.
- Freshman E.J. Schexnayder was thought to be an immediate playinig time contender, but ball security problems as well as the learning curve may force him to redshirt. Even if coaches want to use him right away, he just doesn't look ready from a toughness perspective, though he did lower the shoulder and deliver a blow in Wednesday's workout.
They are who we THOUGHT they were!
- That's right, Jamel "Melly" Hamler, Devon "Wiggles" Wylie and Rashad "Shad" Evans are without question one of the top two trios of WRs in the WAC. Hamler had too darn many drops Thursday morning and night, but these three are legit. And FAR too many of the "experts" around town forgot how good Evans is.
- Newcomer prediction (you heard it here first): Victor Dean and Jalen Saunders are the top two freshmen candidates to play right away. That's not to say Josh Harper, Davon Dunn and Isaiah Burse aren't ready (they could be too) but the Bulldogs can't dress everyone and it makes more sense to space these talents out. Dean's 6-foot-6 height has tortured the defense in recent days with his ability to go up and get the fade in the corner of the end zone -- it's a lethal advantage for him. And Saunders' performance so far this fall reminds us of the way Rouse burst onto the scene early last camp.
Hey, stop hogging all the pancakes...
- One thing has become glaringly apparent -- Fresno State has to find a backup center who can snap in shotgun. Joey Bernardi is money, but Richard Helepiko, Leslie Cooper and Lars Bramer have struggled with accuracy thus far. That wasn't expected after the strong camp each of them had in spring.
- We're about ready to petition the school to retire Bernardi's jersey after this year. He might not even go to the NFL, but he's off the charts on the Bulldog-Pride-O-Meter.
Hurry, hurry, step right up
- Who's gonna be the D-lineman who steps up and becomes that superstar difference-maker? It's got to be someone if this D is going to turn it around. DE Donnie Pritchett has shown unique quickness and agility for someone his size (think larger Nick Burley). Now, if he can play like Burley, watch out! Pritchett's been taking the lion's share of first-team reps with Chris Lewis sidelined the past couple days.
- The next most likely breakout candidate is DT Anthony Williams, the strongest player on the team and a guy who dominates his opposing lineman regularly in practices.
- Keep an eye on the development of DE Tristan Okpalaugo, who also took a few first-team reps in place of Lewis. He's steadily improving and has added size in the offseason, but it still pretty thin.
- And a big boost might come from a guy who's been around for years. Watching DT Cornell Banks practice, it's hard not to get the feeling he's poised for a breakout (pleasebethenextAlanHarper, pleasebethenextAlanHarper...).
- One thing is for sure. The whole D-line is hustling and vocalizing more than it has since the days of Garrett McIntyre and Brian Morris. That's a good sign, and a lot of it can be attributed to the strong leadership of Chris Carter (who we've decided will now be nicknamed "C Twice").
We go deep...
- Despite what Matt James said in today's Fresno Bee podcast, there is one position on defense where the 'Dogs have tons of depth, and it's linebacker.
- The starters are Ben Jacobs, Kyle Knox and Travis Brown. And of course there's Shawn Plummer with lots of experience and ability to help in passing situations. But as hard as it might be to believe, redshirt freshmen Jeremiah Toma and Pat Su'a are good enough to start. Toma could be the best LB on the team. Then you've got Daniel Salinas, who has a bit of experience and great lateral movement from sideline to sideline, Damion Whittington who had a very strong spring, Sonny McCree who's an experienced reserve and talented newcomers Ofa Fifita (huge) and Lester Fontenette (athletic).
Raise your hand if your like interceptions...
- What are the odds CB Jermaine Thomas has more picks this season (his first as a starter) than all DBs combined did last season? Don't laugh, it's not out of the question. Thomas had five interceptions in three days earlier this week.
- Thomas and L.J. Jones have taken all the first-team reps with Desia Dunn and Isaiah Green sidelined. Green returned to action Thursday night, but don't be surprised to see him as the third or fourth corner.
- Andrew Shapiro got extensive live punting work and showed capability to boom a couple, but was inconsistent. The hang time is there, but the distance and placement need work.
- Bobby Shepard is big-time as long snapper, but behind him there are question marks. H-back Austin Raphael is the second-stringer but struggled Thursday morning and stayed after practice to put in extra work.