Spring practice fresno state football the fresno bee west la college track and field

Fresno state’s football team begins spring practices monday with 17 returning starters from a squad that went 10-4 and won the mountain west conference’s west division and the hawaii bowl.

The bulldogs have a chance to win 10 or more games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1988-89. The 15 spring practices will be invested on building toward that.

• the use of the tight ends in the passing game, which got a jolt in the hawaii bowl victory over houston when jared rice caught six passes for 84 yards.

He did that despite joining the program well into fall camp as a graduate transfer from oregon state, with no reps in the offense, and no rapport with his receivers gained through spring practices and summer workouts.

The season was on-the-job training, digesting the game plan each week without a base in the bulldogs’ offense to support it.Fresno state

"It’s a huge tribute to marcus that he came in and did what he did so fast," offensive coordinator kalen deboer said. "Every week we were throwing at least a few things at him that he hadn’t run, hadn’t even heard of.

"Sometimes, tuesday practices looked a little rough. Wednesday was a little better, but even wednesday there were new concepts when we talked about the situations we were practicing. Then, thursday, because of marcus just diving into it and taking a lot of time to study and think through what we were trying to do, it’d look a little better."

As good as mcmaryion was in 2017, that inexperience and lack of reps was apparent at critical points, such as when the field was compressed in the red zone, and on third downs.

Fresno state last season had a 54.7 touchdown percentage inside the 20-yard line, eighth in the conference, and mcmaryion completed only 47.2 percent of his throws in the red zone.Last season

It converted 35.6 percent of its third down plays into first downs, eighth in the mountain west, and mcmaryion hit 41.4 percent of his third-down passes.

On mixed downs — between third-and-4 to third-and-6, when the bulldogs could run or pass — he hit on 50 percent of his throws. On third-and-long, obvious passing downs, he was just 37.8 percent.

In his second season as a bulldog, those numbers could skyrocket, and spring will be a proving ground for mcmaryion to learn how to optimize the offense.

He can do that by manipulating defenses with his eyes, holding a safety on one side of the field to create a larger window on the other side. It’s also better timing with receivers, better anticipation with a throw that leads to more space and more yards after a catch. It’s a better read on defenses and the tips and clues they give on blitzes or coverage against a certain play.Last season it’s running the offense at a higher tempo to catch opposing defenses off balance.

This is their progression with throws on third-and-7 to third-and-9 from their first season to their third seasons as full-time starting quarterbacks:

If mcmaryion has a similar jump, the bulldogs’ offense should, too. With mcmaryion and the bulldogs’ offense, there is room to be more efficient and more explosive. Of the 26 FBS teams that won 10 or more games last season, fresno state ranked 23rd in yards per play and tied for 25th in yards per point.

Fresno state returns three of their top four wideouts in keesean johnson, jamire jordan and derrion grim and have oklahoma transfer michiah quick joining the group.

"This is really good to have a spring, a summer and then a fall camp," deboer said. "I think you’re really going to see him grow and play with even more confidence.Fresno state

"He’s very motivated. He’s a driven kid who knows what he wants and he’ll do the work to get there. Taking it to the next level and really having a greater impact on our team quicker in the year is going to be something you see from him."

Fresno state had just six rushing plays of 20 or more yards last season, tied for 128th in the nation and ahead of only one team, western kentucky.

One of those explosive rushing plays came against incarnate word, a FCS program, and three came against a new mexico team that went 3-9. The longest and two of those six runs weren’t produced by a running back but the quarterback, mcmaryion.

Fresno state returns its top seven tacklers from last season, but no. 8, no. 9 and no. 10 were big pieces to the puzzle and will be difficult to replace: tackle malik forrester and ends tobenna okeke and robert stanley.Last season

Those five had played a lot of football going into 2017, and were versatile pieces. Stanley, okeke and van hook were converted linebackers and madsen had played inside and outside when the bulldogs deployed a 3-4 front.

Fresno state coach jeff tedford and his staff have been working on that position group since they started, but given the suspect shape it was in at this time a year ago, the loss of five seniors from the rotation could be a tackle-size problem. With no O, how will the defense change?

Defensive coordinator orlondo steinauer returned to the canadian football league after helping engineer one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history.

They also were first in third-down defense, tied for first in sacks and explosive plays allowed, second in tackles for loss, fourth in turnovers gained.Last season

Steinauer called the plays for that defense on game days, but the planning and teaching was a collaborative effort with defensive line coach jamar cain, linebackers coach bert watts and defensive backs coach J.D. Williams.