The addition of Ioane Sagapolu and progression of Maurice Poyadue allowed Fresno State's coaching staff to introduce the idea of moving star nose tackle Tyeler Davison out to defensive end in the spring of 2013. That idea did not take to fruition this past season as Davison took almost all of the significant reps at nose and the Bulldogs had two solid defensive ends in Nikko Motta and Andy Jennings.
"There were probably a couple practices where I was out there at end last spring and I would be playing end and nose in that same spring practice," Davison said. "This spring it's just end the entire time. I haven't even taken a snap at nose."
With the departure of Motta and Jennings, the Bulldogs took another look at this move in the 2014 spring session. This time it was a much more serious look. Fresno State now has two spots to fill at defensive end and with the depth at nose, moving Davison to one of those end spots gives the staff a lot more to work with as far as depth is concerned.
"We had Nikko and Andy leaving and that gives a lot of space for guys like [Maurice Poyadue], Claudell [Louis], Todd [Hunt], Nate Madsen, [Ioane Sagapolu]," Davison said. "We've got some work to do still definitely, but I think they've all been stepping up which if they do and they keep going in the direction they're going, our line should have some decent depth to it."
Fresno State played Davison exclusively at end this spring which gave him a lot of valuable reps and allowed Poyadue and Sagapolu to battle at nose. Davison explained the adjustments he had to make with the position change.
"Kind of the same thing as last year, but a lot more intense," Davison described his work at end this spring. "I'm just trying to get all the reads and stuff down so it's automatic when I'm up there. They're not quite as automatic yet as they are at nose. Just trying to get all that stuff so I don't even really have to think about it when I'm out there playing, just all reaction and coming to me naturally. I think that's what the aim of the spring ball is, so I can be as natural at defensive end as I am at nose."
"I need to get everything from my technique, to my pre-snap preparation when it comes to looking at the backfield, need to get faster and get into better shape, get stronger."
For Davison, playing defensive end has been a different experience. The 6-foot-2, 304 lbs lineman commanded a presence inside against offensive lines, but has the speed and agility to be effective at end as well.
"It's definitely different," Davison said. "It's nice. There's not so many double teams, you're a little more free. But you've got to play a little more technical and you've got to play off your reads a little bit better. I like it. I like having all the freedom, but I feel like I'll be able to be a lot more productive at defensive end once I get all the reads and all the calls to be natural to me."
Davison on the end would also make pass rush specialist Ejiro Ederaine that much more dangerous off the edge. Ederaine totaled 10 sacks last season.
"It's probably a lot of small things," Davison said. "It might make the tackle hesitate a little bit because he doesn't know which way I'm going, which gives [Ederaine] more time to rush up the field… Or maybe they'll have to work on their double teams longer before working up to the linebackers."
Despite all the time Fresno State dedicated to playing Davison at end, his value at nose has not been forgotten. Defensive coordinator Nick Toth says, "We might not do that all the time like we are in the spring."