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March 8, 2013
On another cold and rain threatening morning at Bulldog Stadium, the Bulldogs wrapped up an intense and emotional seventh day of spring practice.
The main focus of today's practice was to put the players through live performance situations. The team also ran through a lot of third down plays and situations as well. For Tim DeRuyter and his staff, it was a chance to see how the players responded to live contact and tackling.
It was a day in which DeRuyter was hoping for a little more rain drops to simulate actual weather conditions so his team can get used to playing in colder climates when they play on the road once the season starts.
"I was hoping for some rain today," DeRuyter said. "So we had to artificially create some situations. Our guys gotta have the mentality that weather doesn't matter."
DeRuyter was a little more impressed with the offense's ability to protect the rock; however, they still had a difficult time coughing the ball up. "Our offense took much better care of the ball today," he said. "A couple of days ago, we had seven or eight turnovers. Today, we may have had one or two."
As for the defense, DeRuyter noticed that a few players are still missing tackles and he acknowledged that that is still an area of concern for the team heading in to next week. "Defensively, we have to look at the tape and see whose missing tackles in space and work on that some more," he said.
After nearly two weeks of spring practice for the Bulldogs, many positions and roster spots are still up for grabs. And while the competition at positions like wide receiver, strong safety and running back remains close, one unit that seems to be developing in to shape is the special teams.
So far this spring, the Bulldogs' special teams have focused on fundamentals rather than schemes. And right now, DeRuyter is concerned more with stressing consistency rather than performance. "As far as our punt coverage, punt protection, I think we're doing a good job with that," DeRuyter said. "I like what we're doing."
The Bulldogs' special teams coach, Pete Germano, shares the same feelings as DeRuyter in regards to the development of the unit this spring. "We're more trying to introduce the skills and the fundamentals and not worry about scheme," Germano said.
However, both units, the kick and punt coverage teams are still a work in progress. Coach Germano is using this spring to not only acclimate the squad from last year with the fundamentals, but to also nurture and develop some of the younger players who might be utilized on kick and punt coverage units this fall.
"We're going to use the guys who were on it last year and give all those redshirt freshmen who didn't play a chance to show us what they can do," Germano said.
As far as primary kick and punt returners Germano and the rest of the staff are looking at a variety of guys to see who best fits what they need. "You have to think I.B. (Isaiah Burse) is going to be a kid that can do both," he said. "It's still a work in progress."
In addition to Burse, Germano has also experimented with fellow wide receivers Josh Harper and Davante Adams to see where they fit in and to give the unit a little more depth.
Last season, the Bulldogs' were stronger in kickoff coverage and just OK in punt coverage. And Germano knows that if this unit is going to be successful, they have to come together and coalesce as one complete unit. "Teaching the kids how to play special teams; that's the key to me," Germano said. "It's more about the fundamentals."
If the special teams can continue to learn the fundamentals throughout the remainder of the spring, then, as Coach Germano said, they'll have a unit that's the best of the best. "We're like special forces; we have to be the best of the best," he said.
Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on 2013 Fresno State spring football. You can follow Jason on Twitter at @dodgerjason.
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