Fresno State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
10:00
AM ET
2009 overall record: 8-5

2009 conference record:6-2

Returning starters
Offense: 8, defense: 8, punter/kicker: 1

Top returners
QB Ryan Colburn, DE Chris Carter, PK Kevin Goessling, LB Ben Jacobs, WR Jamel Hamler

Key losses
RB Ryan Mathews, WR Seyi Ajirotutu, SS Moses Harris, P Robert Malone

2009 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Ryan Mathews (1,808 yards)
Passing: Ryan Colburn* (2,459 yards)
Receiving: Seyi Ajirotutu (677 yards)
Tackles: Ben Jacobs* 106
Sacks: Chris Carter* (5)
Interceptions: Phillip Thomas* 2

Spring Answers

1. Ryan Mathews' replacement: Initially, many weren’t sure whether Robbie Rouse could replace all-everything star Ryan Mathews, but he’s done a spectacular job this spring and has earned the starting role over competitors Michael Harris and A.J. Ellis.

2. Securing the secondary: The emergence of redshirt freshman defensive back L.J Jones and sophomore Phillip Thomas provide hope that the Bulldogs’ secondary will be even better than it was a year ago. The Bulldogs allowed less than 200 yards per game last year, but lost A.J. Jefferson.

3. No worries at QB: Coach Pat Hill challenged the quarterbacks this spring and last year’s starter Ryan Colburn and up-and-comer Derek Carr responded. Both had good spring seasons and should be more active this year as the Bulldogs try to spread the ball around a little more.

Fall questions


1. Looking for support: Colburn really came on in the second half of the season, but he also had a lot of veteran talent around him. This year, there’s still talent, but it’s young and inexperienced. While it might take time to develop a rhythm, Hill said he believes this will be one of his more athletic groups of skill players.

2. Who will replace All-WAC punter Robert Malone? Fresno State is still looking for someone to replace Malone, who helped the Bulldogs rank first in the conference in net punting. Andrew Shapiro and Matt Williams were listed on the depth chart, but the competition is still open and likely won’t be decided until the fall.

3. Improving the run defense: The Bulldogs' pass defense was good, but the run defense was pretty terrible. It allowed 214.08 yards per game and more than 300 rushing yards three times last season. The entire front four returns and their focus this spring was on the run. We’ll see if that paid off in the fall.

Graham Watson | email

College Football
Watson joined ESPN.com in 2008 after four seasons covering the Missouri Tigers and the Big 12 Conference for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also covered college football recruiting for the Dallas Morning News.

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