(Derek Carr, Fresno State Quarterback)
Fresno State Offensive Preview:
Derek Carr, younger brother of the NFL version (David), is expected to improve an attack that has some speed at the skill positions but underperformed in 2010.
Quarterbacks: Derek Carr is the story. If you believe the hype, he’s a sure-fire NFL quarterback possessing a good arm and a lot of mobility and athleticism. He’s got 14 passes of Division 1 experience. We’ll see. Not much behind him of note.
Running Back: Robbie Rouse sounds like a slightly faster I’si Sofele. At a listed 5’7″, 190.. he’s shifty and has wheels, good for moderate duty. He has had huge individual game rushing attempt numbers but did show some wear after the fact (see last year’s decline after the 43 carry effort vs. Louisiana Tech).
Rouse is backed up by Milton Knox (by way of UCLA). He’s not quite as fast as Rouse but he runs with good balance, power and speed. Fairly good unit though they’ll have to break a lot of tackles as the offensive line looks overmatched against Cal’s Dline.
Wide Receiver: Like RB, the Bulldogs possess speed at WR. Lots of it. A.J. Johnson, Rashad Evans, Jalen Saunders and former Cal commit Josh Harper all can move. Everyone here (except Saunders) has some size (5’11″+) to go with their jets. Evans is the most experienced, but all can stretch the field effectively. Ryan Skidmore gets a chance to start at TE and should be a talent upgrade, though the roster is thin behind him.
Offensive Line: The offensive line was bad last year, and probably why all of the above speed and skill looks ordinary against Cal. Rouse feasted while fresh but the line surrendered 36 sacks. Bryce Harris and Austin Wentworth are slated to start at the tackle spots, Matt Hunt and Leslie Cooper at the guards and Richard Helepiko at center. Harris and Wentworth both were relatively effective in the run game but struggled (along with everyone else) against the pass. Their progression will go a long way to determining how effective the group can be. Otherwise there’s plenty of size but not much in the way of proven effectiveness.
After the jump, the biggest strength vs. Cal and the biggest weakness vs. Cal for Fresno State.
Biggest Strength vs Cal: Carr. While Cal’s defense looks strong, if there was a weakness it would be in the secondary. If the Bulldog line can pick up Pendergast’s rushers, they will score points through the air.
Biggest Weakness vs Cal: … but I’d be surprised if they get more than a few big plays. When looking over Fresno State’s OL from last year, the word ‘decent’ came to mind all too often. I don’t think that cuts it on Saturday.