With fall camp finally here, the Bulldogs look to hit the ground running in preparation for the 2013 season. After a long hot summer, senior quarterback Derek Carr and junior safety Derron Smith are looking forward to the opener against Rutgers.
Carr is the leader of the Bulldogs highflying, fast paced, big play offense. Smith is the leader of the Bulldogs physical, disruptive, and opportunistic defense.
Carr and Smith both spoke about their own respective side of the ball and some of their expectations for this season.
"We had a lot of success last year, but I feel like we can do the same thing this year," Smith said. "We lost a lot of talented guys, but we have a lot of skill coming back and some young guys ready to step up. We're just looking forward to getting out there in camp and start grinding as a defense and proving that we can hold our own with anybody."
Carr listed all of his weapons and described the nightmare that defenses in the Mountain West will have to deal with this season.
"I'm very blessed to have all the weapons that we have and a system where we put them all on the field at once," he said. "Defenses have to choose man, Devante [Adams] had a great year last year, it they want to double-team him then Harp [Josh Harper] is one-on-one. If they want to double him then you have to cover [Isaiah] Burse with your third best corner and if all them are covered then we got Marcel [Jensen] who's 6-foot-12 and can run like a deer so its going be fun."
Each of them spoke not only about their own side of the ball, but had high praises for the opponents they face in practice each day, attributing some of their success to that high level of competition in practice.
"I always say our defense is the best," Carr said. "In all confidence and humbleness I think our defense is the best in the nation at creating turnovers and havoc in the backfield. If you're a quarterback you don't want to face our defense. There's nothing they're going to show you before the snap, they walk around and show pressure then bring it from the whole opposite side. It sucks its not fun to play against them, but it makes you a lot better and forces you to focus a lot harder in practice."
Smith praised the Bulldogs offense and stressed the importance of competing against them in practice on a daily basis.
"You know we have so many weapons on offense from quarterback, to all our receivers, to our running back by committee. It's difficult playing against them everyday, but at the same time that will make it easier for us come game day throughout the season."
Many people are curious entering camp about how the Bulldogs will improve in their second year under Tim DeRuyter's system. Carr and Smith both believe that the biggest improvements will be in the mental aspects of the game.
"It's different because last year it was kind of unknown what we were getting into with the new system. This year there's a lot more confidence going into the season," Smith said.
Carr followed this up by explaining how his maturity level and knowledge of the system has also improved over the last year.
"A lot of it is situation," Carr said. "If it's third-and-one I'm not going check to a fade, which I have done, and throw the ball out-of -bounds. If it's a mixed down and we can take a shot on a mismatch I will, but if its third-and-one I'm going to hand the ball off and get the first down. That's really where I've grown as a player, and being smarter in that sense trying to be a game manager."
Both Carr and Smith enjoyed great success last year and are now being recognized on both the conference and national scale. They are both humbled by the praise but will not let it affect their work ethic on the field.
"One of the biggest things I've learned from my brother is that you're going to get praise and you're going to get criticized," Carr said. "You have to ignore both of them because neither of them matter. All I can do is get better. I can't control anything else besides my effort and how hard I work."
Smith made similar comments about his recent selection as preseason Mountain West defensive player of the year.
"It's a great honor, its great to have your hard work recognized, but at the same time its just preseason its just peoples opinions. I want to be recognized at the end of the season, and at the same time if I do that then I feel like we'll have a great season as a team."
Carr and Smith will lead the Bulldogs onto the field for the first day of fall camp to prepare for week one against Rutgers in hopes of starting the season with a 1-0 record.
Steven Morehart is a new staff writer for FSBulldogs.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @StevenMorehart.