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October 23, 2013

Bulldog Practice Insider

The Bulldogs walked onto the practice field on Tuesday for their first physical practice of the week. The 'Dogs have all their focus on the San Diego State Aztecs who they will face on the road Saturday night. After dropping their first three games the Aztecs are entering their battle with the Bulldogs riding the momentum that comes with three-straight wins.

Throughout the season the coaching staff has kept the 'Dogs focused on the opponent at hand and never allowed the team to overlook anybody. Overlooking their opponent should not be an issue for the 'Dogs this week. Traveling to San Diego for what will be their toughest road matchup of the season, the Bulldogs should be focused and ready to play.

"I think we're doing a lot of things different than last year when it comes to road games," Coach Tim DeRuyter said. "We've got a mature group it's their second season going through our system and understanding how we travel, and it's a process. It's easier when you have guys coming back for a second year, but I think a lot of it also has to do with the caliber of competition we're seeing on the road as well."

The Aztecs offense got off to a slow start to begin their season, but has stepped up their game in recent weeks. With a strong running game and big play potential at wide receiver they look to be a formidable opponent against the Bulldogs' defense.

"I think clearly they have two of the best running backs in the league," DeRuyter said. "[Adam] Muema we think a lot of, and [Donnel] Pumphrey has kind of come out of nowhere and been explosive for them. Their receivers are very explosive, big play capable guys. The tight end is very serviceable. They've got a lot of weapons, they've done a great job recruiting, and they coach them well."

San Diego State's defense also presents some rare challenges for the Bulldogs. The 'Dogs have not seen Coach Rocky Long's 3-3-5 defensive scheme yet this season, and will need to be mentally prepared to be successful on Saturday night.

"The 3-3-5 defense is unique," DeRuyter said. "You've got to do a really good job being sound. They do a great job of pressuring quarterbacks, getting sacks and tackles for loss, and creating takeaways. It's similar in theory to a lot of the things we try to do with our defense. We've got to do a great job with protection and understand what they're doing coverage wise and hurt them where we perceive there are weaknesses."

Stopping The Aztec Offense

Ejiro Ederaine has emerged as a star for the Bulldogs on the defensive side of the ball. Ederaine was happy with the way the defense performed in practice on Tuesday, and believes that the teams physicality and focus in practice is key to being successful in the game.

"I think practice was good," Ederaine said. "We've watched some film on San Diego State to see what they do, and know what to expect on Saturday. We came out here today, and Tuesday's are always a little rough, but I feel like we worked out some kinks and it was a good physical practice."

Ederaine talked about the Bulldogs' strategy for Saturday night. The same physicality that the 'Dogs take pride in throughout the week of practice is one of the keys to slowing down the Aztecs.

"We need to be real physical on Saturday," Ederaine said. "Their team identity is going to be to try to come out and hit us in the mouth, and we have to match their physicality. It's also really important for us to get quarterback pressure because it shortens their routes, it helps the secondary, and limits their playbook."

Forcing Turnovers

The staple of the Bulldogs' defense week in and week out is taking the ball away. With turnover numbers down from a year ago, the coaching staff this week is emphasizing getting the ball back to the offense, whether it be forcing turnovers or making third down stops.

"It's a big deal to get stops on third down," Jonathon Norton said. "Coach [Nick] Toth always emphasizes winning third downs and getting off the field. We're also always looking to get takeaways, the most important thing is to always wrap up and secure the tackle, but after that we need to get 'shots on goal' as we say. We'll be looking to strip the ball out, and any chance we get we'll be looking to get the ball back."

The 'Dogs resume their preparation for San Diego State Wednesday afternoon. With two more practices before their travel day the Bulldogs should be deep into the Aztecs' game plan, and looking to sure things up the rest of the week.

Dog Bones

  • The 'Dogs are looking to get the ball in Isaiah Burse's hands more often.
  • Marteze Waller was in full pads today and performing all the individual drills. He didn't seem to be moving full speed, but DeRuyter said he looked good today.
  • The defense is working tirelessly on takeaway drills.
  • The defense put in a lot of work in pursuit and gang tackling drills.
  • Coach Toth put an emphasis on cornering the Aztec running backs and getting them on the ground.
  • With the inability to cover kicks, there were seven defensive starters working with the coverage team in practice today.
  • Jamal Ellis got work with the first team today after Curtis Riley performed lazily in individuals.

    You can follow FSBulldogs.com on Twitter at @FresnoDogs.


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