This is the second in a 12-part series that breaks down the Ole Miss Rebels’ football opponents in 2015.
By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter wasn’t able to find a starting quarterback during the spring.
So he went to the junior college ranks for a transfer. Much like the Ole Miss Rebels, who are still searching to name a starter at quarterback, the Bulldogs are also in search of a signal caller heading into summer drills.
Last season, Brian Burrell led the Bulldogs at the position, passing for 2,620 yards and 22 touchdowns. Burrell could have returned, but he graduated early, leaving a void at a position that has been one of stability for the Bulldogs, who had second-round draft pick Derek Carr leading the offense the previous three seasons.
It was a three-way race to earn the spot vacated by Burrell heading into the spring, and it remained that way when the Bulldogs wrapped up spring drills this past March.
Thirteen days ago, another quarterback, Ford Childress, entered the race to become the starter. The former West Virginia Mountaineer came to Fresno after spending the 2014 season after taking a medical redshirt season at Trinity Valley Community College. Childress has seen some action, throwing for 421 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Georgia State.
Sophomore Zach Greenlee, who started three games last season, redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson and true freshman Chason Virgil are the other candidates bidding for the starting spot. Fresno State opens summer drills Aug. 3. The Bulldogs open the 2015 season at home against Abilene Christian on Sept. 3 before traveling to Oxford to play the Rebels on Sept. 12.
Whoever the quarterback is, he would be smart to hand off to senior running back Marteze Waller, who rushed for 1,368 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Waller, recently named to the Doak Walker Award watch list, averaged 6.1 yards per carry and is already 13th on the school rushing list with 2,188 yards during his career.
The Bulldogs return a total of 14 starters from a team that went 6-8 overall and lost to Rice in the Hawai’i Bowl. Boise State, a team Ole Miss defeated in the 2014 season opener, doubled up the Bulldogs, 28-14, in the Mountain West Championship game.
Prior to those two setbacks to end the season, the Bulldogs had won three straight games. Fresno, which hosted Ole Miss in 2010, started the 2014 season with three one-sided losses to Southern Cal, Utah and Nebraska. The Bulldogs allowed 52 or more points in each of the setbacks. As a result, Fresno’s defense finished ranked No. 99 in points allowed (32.4 per game).
Linebacker Kyrie Wilson, a senior, is back to lead the Bulldogs on defense after leading the team with 90 overall tackles, including 52 solo stops. Defensive back Charles Washington is one of leaders on defense having made 78 tackles and two interceptions last season.
A strength for the Bulldogs is senior punter Garrett Swanson, who averaged 40.7 yards per attempt in 2014.