Although there is still much room for improvement, the Long Beach (CA) native was pleased with the way things went in his first year at the helm and is excited for the future.
“I was really proud of our 22 seniors that bought in right from the beginning, which allowed us to have the success that we were able to have,” he told FanIQ.
Following a five-game winning streak, Fresno State was denied of its first postseason victory since 2007, and first 10-win season in over 12 years.
The Bulldogs were demolished by SMU 43-10 in the Hawaii Bowl, leaving a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth heading into the offseason.
“We blew an opportunity and it wasn't one side of the ball or the other, because there were some things we did well on both sides, but we kind of reverted back to how we played on the road early in the season where we weren't catching balls, we didn't protect very well and we gave up some explosive plays on defense,” said DeRuyter.
“You do that against a team that is hot, (and) you're going to lose. We had been fortunate with takeaways most of the year and in that game we gave it away, and if you give it away for scores you're not going to win too many of those games. They kind of used our formula against us.
“We’re going to use the loss in the bowl game as fuel to the fire that we’ve got to improve our mental toughness, our physical toughness and improve just how we execute in order to achieve the goals we want next year, and that’s to finish a lot better.”
Aside from the bowl loss, Fresno State did a lot of impressive things throughout the season. In its nine wins, it beat opponents by an average of 21.1 points.
The offense was especially good, scoring at least 42 points in seven games (37.9 per game). A lot of the Bulldogs’ offensive success came through the air (325.6 ypg was No. 12 in NCAA), and quarterback Derek Carr was the catalyst.
Carr, an upcoming senior and little brother of NFL quarterback David Carr, completed over 67 percent of his passes last season for 4,104 yards, 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
He threw for over 300 yards on six different occasions and his 155.9 passer rating was 14th-best in the nation.
“Derek had a great year and was really a leader of our team,” DeRuyter said. “But I think he’s just scratched the surface right now. I think that as good a quarterback as he is, he could be the greatest in Fresno State history and has one more year to do that.
“We haven’t had a Heisman Trophy winner here,” he added. “We haven’t gone to a BCS bowl. Those things are out there for a great leader like him.”
Carr is an excellent field general and is considered to be one of the better NFL prospects for the draft class of 2014. However, for him to become a Heisman contender and Fresno State to compete for a BCS bowl, he’s going to need some help.
DeRuyter feels like he can find that help and fill some voids in the recruiting pool, where the Bulldogs currently rank No. 3 in the Mountain West for the class of 2013 (No. 73 overall).
“We’re looking at having a signing class in the neighborhood of 25 players,” he said. “We lost a good group of seniors and have to plug in some holes at the different positions, so we are looking to meet those needs and bring in guys that want to be Bulldogs and guys that want to win championships.”
The addition of some strong pledges such as three-star cornerback Treshon Broughton and wide receiver DaMari Scott, along with a good group of offensive linemen, should help Fresno State recover quickly from its graduation losses.
The Bulldogs are ready to roll and should be right back in the thick of things for the MWC this fall.
“I am fortunate to have an unbelievable staff working for me and I think we laid a decent foundation here to build off of,” said DeRuyter, who is excited for his second year in Fresno. “I’m looking forward to spring ball to get back on the field to compete and keep improving.”
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