New Carr takes over as Fresno St. QB vs. Cal
SAN FRANCISCO (AP)
When Jeff Tedford was an assistant coach at Fresno State, he played catch with a Nerf football with the younger brother of quarterback David Carr.
''He's a very good player,'' Tedford said. ''Now he gets a chance to get his career started there and we hope to make it a little difficult on him. I like him and his family but we're opponents going into this week. I hope he doesn't start off successful.''
Derek Carr wants to build on what his older brother established at Fresno State when he helped coach Pat Hill's Bulldogs build a reputation as a giant killer willing to take on any opponent.
In David Carr's final season, the Bulldogs opened the year with successive wins against Colorado, No. 10 Oregon State and No. 23 Wisconsin and moved as high as eighth in the rankings. Then came back-to-back losses to Boise State and Hawaii that ended the quest for a BCS berth and the chance at a conference title.
''I want to come to Fresno to finish what Dave started and do it with Coach Hill,'' Carr said. ''I'm glad he's here. I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else. We're really looking forward to it. We have a good, fast team. We're young but we don't play like it.''
Fresno State has been passed in recent years by schools such as Boise State, TCU, Hawaii and Utah, who all managed to make it to a BCS game from a non-power conference.
The Bulldogs, despite a slew of notable wins and a few scares of major conference teams, have never even won an outright Western Athletic Conference title - even with future No. 1 overall draft pick David Carr at the helm.
''David accomplished an awful lot,'' Hill said. ''What David didn't accomplish was winning a league championship and getting us to the promised land like everyone is trying to get to one of those BCS games. Those are very, very lofty goals. ... Dave got us as high as (eighth) in the nation. We had a couple of tough losses there in a span of about eight days. I think David did a great job here. Derek wants to take this program further and wants to take it to another level. I'm behind him 100 percent on that because that's the way we all feel.''
The opener against Cal is part of a brutal nonconference schedule that is followed by a trip to No. 10 Nebraska, and also includes games against Mississippi, No. 5 Boise State and San Diego State.
While playing the tog dogs is nothing new for Fresno State under Hill, getting a chance to play in-state rival Cal is somewhat special.
The two schools have met only twice before despite being separated by a drive of only a few hours, with Fresno State winning 25-24 at Cal in 1995 and 17-3 at home in 2000.
The game will be played at a neutral site at Candlestick Park. Although Cal's campus is a short drive away, Fresno State is expected to have the bigger crowd with Hill saying as many as 22,000 Bulldogs fans could be in attendance. Cal, on the other hand, is struggling to sell out its allotment.
''We can't focus on where we're playing or what the environment will be like,'' Tedford said. ''We have to focus between the lines.''
The Bears are trying to rebound after going 5-7 and missing a bowl game last year for the first time since Tedford's initial season in 2002.
They will have to do it while breaking in a new quarterback in Buffalo transfer Zach Maynard and without last year's star running back Shane Vereen.
''Obviously we didn't have the season we wanted to last year,'' receiver Marvin Jones said. ''That doesn't happen in the Tedford era. We know that and it's in the back of our minds. We still think about that but it's a new season. Everyone is 0-0.''
Tedford has taken a more active play-calling role this summer and Cal should look somewhat different offensively with the more mobile Maynard at quarterback instead of pocket passers like Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore in recent years.
Maynard, the half-brother of star receiver Keenan Allen, threw for 2,694 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran for 300 yards in 2009 for Buffalo.
''He's elusive enough to make guys miss and smart enough to get down when he needs to,'' Tedford said. ''The biggest thing is the things he can do when things go wrong.''