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October 24, 2013

Derek Carr making a Heisman push

In all likelihood, Derek Carr was blissfully unaware of everything that had happened on Saturday before he took the field against UNLV. How could he possibly be preparing for his game while watching everyone in college football get upset? He had more important things on his plate. After all, Carr needed only 33 completions and 3 touchdowns to break former Bulldogs quarterback Paul Pinegar's all-time school records.

Carr went on to break those records during the game. Though, he didn't realize that he had broken them. He knew he was close, but he wasn't quite sure he had broken. For Carr, the day was less about records and more about being able to share something with family.

"When the best quarterback to ever play here is your big brother," Carr said. "And you can have both your names on books someday that says, 'hey, you have records together,' it means a tremendous deal to me. Not only is he my big brother and best quarterback to ever play here, he's my role model. I wanna be just like him. Obviously, 'cause I came here, except I didn't wear No. 8. He wouldn't let me. Just to know that we can do those things and look back on it someday and be able to come to some Fresno State football games when we're older together and I won't be kicked out. It's kinda nice."

No, Carr is more likely to be brought down and honored than removed from Sweeney Field. But all of that is nothing more than pomp and circumstance for Carr. His goal, his only goal, is to lead his men in victory week in and week out. The records are great, but victories are where Carr's focus remains.

"I knew during the game," Carr said. "They made the announcement. Paul Pinegar, he shook my hand right after, so I kinda knew that it happened. He was classy about it. He said, 'congratulations. You deserve it.' He's a great guy, a great player. It was really cool to be able to experience that. But at the same time, I didn't even know. I thought I tied it or something and then they said I broke it. I really didn't know. Tell you guys the truth, all I care about is winning. All those stats and all that, it's great. It's gonna be great for my son to look at someday, but, to me, I just wanna win games.

And win games he has. Many of them with ridiculous numbers that finally have Carr in the USA Today Heisman Poll, and rightfully so.

Carr currently has 2,276 yards passing, 23 touchdowns, and only four interceptions on the season. Putting that in context, Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota only has 2,051 yards and 19 touchdowns. Baylor's Bryce Petty only has 2,023 yards passing and 15 touchdowns. Last year's winner, Johnny Manziel, has 2,289 yards passing and 18 touchdowns.

Sure, a couple of those guys have a different dimension that Carr doesn't quite bring, but those are some extremely prolific offenses manned by Heisman candidates and Carr is hanging in there with the best of them. Of course, if you were to ask him, he would give all the credit to his offensive line and his beliefs.

"That offensive line, man," Carr said. "They work their tail off and those running backs picking up blitzes, they deserve all the credit. They do. I praise God and thank Him, trust me, every day and every night for His protection because He's really the one blocking for me. But those guys work their tails off and it shows. It shows by how much Coach Norcross is teaching 'em, and all that. We're getting the utmost out of 'em. They do such a great job and I guess they kinda care about me to not want me to get hit. I appreciate that."

The simple fact of the matter is that Carr is every bit as good of a Heisman story as any of the other prolific quarterbacks around the country. But one aspect of Carr's game that hasn't been recognized nationally is the fact that he's doing all of this in the shadow of his brother, David Carr. It's often more difficult than one might imagine to come in and live up to the hype, Carr is doing more than that. He has the Bulldogs on track for a BCS game and an outright Mountain West title.

Let's be clear about one thing: David is the Derek's biggest fan and vice versa. The bond the two share has helped both men grow and mature. But none of that takes away from the fact that David has some big shoes to fill and Derek has done a little more than just fill them. He's launched his own brand and people are buying it up left and right.

Carr and the Bulldogs prepare for another conference showdown as they prepare to take on San Diego State this weekend. The Aztecs enter the game unbeaten in conference play and gelling much better than they did when they started the season. A week after that, Carr will take on Nevada in a nationally televised game on ESPN.

The Bulldogs' unquestioned leader has had his squad prepared for every battle they've faced and he has accomplished it without virtually no running game until rather recently. The fact that teams knew Carr was going to have to throw to win and he still beat them says more about Carr than any stat or record could. The way his teammates feel about him says all you need to know about Carr.

Receiver Davante Adams was a big reason that Carr had his record-breaking day against the Rebels. Adams, much like everyone else on the team, was more thrilled to be a part of Derek's moment than he was over having a record-breaking night of his own.

"It's a big thing," Adams said. "Every opportunity I get to catch a touchdown from that guy means a lot to me. I think it means most to me that it means a lot to him that I was a part of that for him. Derek and I are obviously good friends and we'll continue to be friends beyond this point. I think that something that we'll definitely be able to chat about later on in life. It was a good moment."

Marinate on that for a second. Carr's excitement over Adams being involved in his special night means more to Adams than his own special night. Adams tied the single-game receiving touchdown record and tied Fresno's all-time record for career receiving touchdowns, but here he is talking about how special it was that Derek was happy he was involved.

Teddy Bridgewater captivated the nation with respect and admiration he has among the college football circle. Carr has quietly been doing the same thing for his whole career. Now's he's loudly putting up the numbers to prove that humility can be packaged with greatness.

Perhaps he can add Heisman finalist to that list before the season is out.

Stay tuned to FSBulldogs.com for more updates on the 2013 Fresno State Bulldog season.

Josh Webb is a special contributor to FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @BulldogsTwist.


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