Football returns Monday; foundation to be set

Patrick O'Brien, Publisher
Fighting Bulldogs
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FRESNO, Calif. – With a clean slate and renewed energy, the Fresno State football team hits the practice field for the first of 15 spring practices under first-year head coach Jeff Tedford and company on Monday morning.

It will be the first time Tedford and his nine newly appointed assistant coaches – Kalen DeBoer (offensive coordinator), Orlondo Steinauer (defensive coordinator), Jamar Cain (defensive line), Jamie Christian (running backs/special teams coordinator), Ryan Grubb (offensive line/run game coordinator), Kirby Moore (wide receivers), Scott Thompson (tight ends), Bert Watts (linebackers) and J.D. Williams (defensive backs) – will have the opportunity to lay the groundwork, instilling fundamentals and setting the expectations of how this team will practice and create good habits.

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"We've been around [the team] and in the weight room, but you can't do much with them," said Tedford. "Starting Monday we're going to have a chance to get out there and start doing drills, have a football on the field, see the execution and find out what we're all about. It's our first opportunity to see who's here and what they're all about and some of the work that we need to get done."

The staff will have extended time on the field, versus film study, with an 88-man spring roster that includes 18 returning starters and 43 returning lettermen. As NCAA rules mandate, the team will go through three practices before full pads and contact are permitted. Of those 12 contact practices, eight sessions may involve tackling.

While tackling is essential, there will be a five-week period, with spring break dividing spring football into two, two-week sessions, for players to learn the expectations of this coaching staff and for the coaches to thoroughly learn who this team is. And a time to evaluate players on the field rather than basing judgments off of last year's tape and hearsay from player-run-practices.

A noticeable difference in this team on the field for the spectator will be the installation of a 4-3 defense and the movement of a few individuals to the end positions and tackle positions on the defensive line. The toughness of the defensive line will also transition to offense as a Pro-Style look will be used.

Several of those Bulldogs that have changed positions are notably Justin Green, Tobenna Okeke and Johnny Rojas moving to the defensive line in the 4-3, while Justin Rice is now at safety; and on offense Josh Hokit is at running back and Kyle Hendrickson is at tight end - both former defensive players known for being hard-nosed.

Coaches and fans alike will also have their chance to see six new faces suit up for spring football in junior college transfers Matt Boateng (DB), Gunner Javernick (TE), Jorge Reyna (QB) and Quireo Woodley (OL). In addition, Namani Parker (WR) and Mitchell Souza (K) have walked-on.

Public Viewing There will be two chances for the public to come out to practice and a third exclusively for Quarterback Club members.

Saturday, April 1 – Practice #4: 10:35 a.m.-12:50 p.m. • Practice open to members of the Quarterback Club - only

Saturday, April 22 – Practice #11: 10:35 a.m.-12:50 p.m. • Open to the public (Vintage Days April 21-23)

Saturday, April 29 – Spring Preview (Practice #15): 10:35 a.m.-12:50 p.m. • Open to the public

Tickets Fans can secure their seats by contacting the Fresno State ticket office by calling 559-278-3647 or by visiting GoBulldogs.com. The deadline for season ticket renewals has been extended and prospective new season ticket holders can take advantage of season ticket deals that start as low as $99, which includes six home games, highlighted by Boise State and BYU visiting Bulldog Stadium. Payment options include paying an initial deposit of 15 percent while the other payments are spread out over several months.

Coach Tedford on the fan support, "The Red Wave is very strong, [Fresno] is a very passionate city, passionate about their program and we need to get that back. That's what I remember about this place and why I'm glad to be back."

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