FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State football players reported on Thursday to begin preparations for the 2012 season, officially opening up Tim DeRuyter's first fall camp as the head coach of the Bulldogs.
The day was filled with team meetings and the annual media day before ending with a team dinner. While addressing the media, DeRuyter expressed his goals for the Bulldogs during their 29 practices of fall camp before the first game on Sept. 1 against Weber State.
"We've got to firmly establish how we are going to play," DeRuyter said. "We've talked since the day I've been here about being fast, physical and fanatical, and we've got to demand that from our guys every single day."
Along with that, DeRuyter stressed establishing depth on his team.
"Competition is going to be the hallmark of what we do and hopefully through that competition the cream will rise to the top because we've got to establish some depth," he said. "Right now I feel pretty good about our starting unit. As coaches, that's our goal to establish who are our guys on the two-deep over the next two weeks."
DeRuyter and his defensive staff is going emphasize creating turnovers, an area where Fresno State has recently struggled.
"We've got to be a ball-hawking defense because we absolutely have to change our turnover margin from the last few years," he said. "We have to get drastically better at taking the ball away and that will be a major emphasis."
On offense, DeRuyter is confident that a productive offseason with strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese has his team ready to move at a rapid pace in the new spread offense.
"We're going to go no-huddle and we want to have a very aggressive, pace-setting offense that makes the defense catch up with us," DeRuyter said.
Lastly, DeRuyter and his staff want to establish a kicker during fall camp. Redshirt freshman Quentin Breshears and Blake Dunn, a junior who started his career as a walk-on at Washington State before joining Fresno State during spring practices, are the two competing to take over the field goal and PAT duties.
After going through spring practices last March and a summer in the weight room with coach Boese, DeRuyter senses a new excitement within the team.
"There's a different aura with our players back here around the building in full force in anticipation of going into the Mountain West," DeRuyter said. "We know it is going to be a tremendous challenge and I think that was part of the reason why our guys were so driven over the summer."
The challenge now is to turn all that hard offseason work into success and ultimately victories on Saturday's this fall. Fresno State's No. 1 goal that has clearly been established is to win the Mountain West.
Work towards capturing that conference championship begins Friday morning when the team hits the field for the first practice of the season.
Courtesy: Fresno St. Athletics