The chances of seeing quarterback Ford Childress back at West Virginia looked grim back in January 2014 when word broke he was not enrolled at West Virginia for the spring semester. Childress had been suspended from the program for a violation of team rules, and now he is looking to renew his football playing career at Fresno State.
As first reported by BarkBoard.com, Childress will attempt to walk on to the Fresno State program. Childress is believed to have received interest from Texas and Texas A&M, which would make this a nice pickup for head coach Tim DeRuyter and the Bulldogs. He could also be stepping right into a chance to win a starting job once he becomes eligible to play again. Childress would be available to play this season after sitting out of action for the entire 2014 season. That bodes well for his chances of winning a job as a starter as well, as he will be the oldest quarterback at Fresno State and brings some previous starting experience to the table.
Fresno State is entering another year looking for a way to replace Derek Carr at quarterback. Last season Brian Burrell led the team with 2,690 yards and 22 touchdowns, but he was intercepted 18 times and completed 58.3 percent of his pass attempts. Burrell decided not to return to the football field this fall, leaving Fresno State with redshirt sophomore Zack Greenlee, redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson and true freshman Chason Virgil. Greenlee appeared in three games for Fresno State last season, in which he completed 18 of his 41 attempts for 213 yards and a touchdown.
Somewhat surprisingly, Fresno State has lost its incumbent at the quarterback position.
In a press release, head coach Tim DeRuyter announced “that Brian Burrell has been released from his football responsibilities as the quarterback wishes to forgo his last remaining season of eligibility with the Bulldogs.” Why Burrell is foregoing his final season of eligibility with the Bulldogs, and whether he will transfer to another football program to continue his playing career, are great unknowns.
Burrell is slated to graduate in May, so, if he decided to continue his playing career at the collegiate level, he could transfer to another FBS program and be eligible to play in 2015.
“I’m very thankful for the dedication and determination that Brian Burrell brought to our program, especially this past season,” DeRuyter said in a statement. “He now wishes to pursue other avenues with his life and we wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
The 2014 season was Burrell’s first, and now last season as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback as he started 13 of 14 games last year. He completed 58 percent of his 432 passes for 2,620 yards, 22 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Those 18 picks were tied with, among others, Florida State’s Jameis Winston for second-most among FBS quarterbacks.
With Burrell’s departure, the Bulldogs will have three options at the position when they open spring practice in early March: redshirt sophomore Zack Greenlee, redshirt freshman Kilton Anderson and true freshman Chason Virgil. Greenlee was the No. 3 quarterback in 2014, completing 18 of his 41 pass attempts. The other two have not thrown a pass at the collegiate level.
A numerical snapshot of the week that was in college football…
-26 — Washington State’s rushing total against Stanford Friday night, the first time the Cardinal has allowed negative rushing yards in a game since Nov. 3, 2012, at Colorado (-21). It was Wazzu’s lowest rushing total since Oct. 10, 2009, at Arizona State (-54).
.676 — Winning percentage of both Urban Meyer (25-12) and Bob Stoops (50-24) in their head-coaching careers vs. Associated Press Top 25 teams, currently the best at the FBS level. Stoops’ wins all came at Oklahoma, while Meyer spread his out over tenures at Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Nick Saban, incidentally, is third in this category at .581 (50-36 during his time at Michigan State, LSU and Alabama).
0 — Times Georgia had shut out a ranked opponent in a true road-game victory prior to its 34-0 whitewashing of No. 23 Missouri in Columbia Saturday afternoon.
4 — Through six games, the combined number of interceptions (zero) and sacks (four) for which the Wyoming defense has been credited. The Cowboys are the only team in the country without a pick, and their eight turnovers, all fumble recoveries, are tied for 83rd in the nation.
4 — Iowa’s offense and defense officially touched the ball that many times in a span of just under four minutes late in the first quarter against Illinois; the Hawkeyes scored a touchdown on all four of those touches — Jake Rudock 12-yard pass to Jake Duzey; Desmond King 35-yard interception return; Rudock 72-yard pass to Damond Powell; and a Jonathan Parker 60-yard run.
5 — Number of touchdowns Washington linebackerShaq Thompson has scored this season. Thompson has returned three fumbles for scores, including a school-record 99-yarder in the win over Cal, along with one interception return and one rushing touchdown.
5 — Number of touchdowns Justin Worley accounted for (three passing, two rushing) in Tennessee’s 45-10 win over Chattanooga.
7 — Number of teams that, through Week 6, had fewer passing yards for the entire season than Washington State’s Connor Halliday had in a single game in Week 6 (FBS-record 734). Those teams were Navy (595), Georgia Tech (663), Boston College (666), Air Force (683), UTEP (702), North Texas (705) and UCF (714). Halliday’s record-setting performance was very near the season total for USF (740), Georgia Southern (748) and Wisconsin (749) as well. Speaking of Halliday, the senior was held to under 300 yards passing (292) in the loss to Stanford Friday night for the first time this season and the first time since the regular-season finale against Washington (282), a streak of seven straight games.
7 — Including this year, the number of times Kentucky has started a season 5-1 since 1950, with the others being 1950, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1984, 2007.
7.1 — Average yards per touch for Buck Allen in USC’s upset of previously-unbeaten Arizona Saturday night. The running back carried the ball 26 times for 205 yards (7.9 yards per carry) and totaled four receptions for 28 yards (7.0 yards per catch) for good measure.
9 — Teams remaining that have either won all of its games or lost all of them. There are still six of the former — Baylor, Florida State, Marshall, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss. There were 10 entering Week 7, with Arizona, Auburn, Georgia Tech and TCU falling from the ranks of the unbeatens. The three remaining winless teams are Idaho, Kent State and SMU. UMass, against Kent State, picked up its first win of the year Saturday.
Fresno State has a need to improve on special teams, and fast. The Bulldogs will be holding an open try-out for all full-time students with previous kicking experience later this week. Just three weeks into the season, it is that desperate of a situation for the defending Mountain West Conference champions.
Earlier this month Fresno State lost kicker Colin McGuire, who left the team to deal with personal issues according to head coach Tim DeRuyter. That left DeRuyter to have to rely on freshman walk-on Kody Kroening for place-kicking duties. Punter Garrett Swanson continued with his responsibilities on special teams. Kroening has successfully connected on all five of his PAT attempts and one of two field goal attempts.
Kroening and Swanson are the only two kickers on the roster, which puts Fresno State in even more of a bind in the event either should happen to go down. Kroening can handle the punting duties if needed, but having Swanson take over place-kicking duties may not be the most ideal situation considering the circumstances for Fresno State.
Fresno State is one of three schools yet to record a touchback on a kickoff (SMU and Wisconsin are the others).