Q&A with Fresno State Coach Pat Hill - Part 1

Here is part one of a conversation with Pat Hill, as he talks about his team and Friday's opener against Wisconsin.

Q: Did you have any reservations taking a 13th game? What kind of thinking went into that process for you?

Hill: We played 13 games last year. And I tell you what, the fun part of football is the games, so the more the better.

Q: Being an old offensive line coach, can you talk about the current group you have there, and what characteristics have made them so good?

Hill: They've been together for a long time. It's a closely-knit group. And I think that's important in the offensive line. They weren't a highly-recruited group of young men. They have all gained weight together, gained strength together and grown together. They've played in a lot of games together. I like their attitude and work ethic.

Q: Wisconsin fans are familiar with what Bernard Berrian can do both as a wide receiver and a kick returner. How often did teams kick away from Berrian last year, and was it successful?

Hill: I don't really remember that often people kicking away, and if people are kicking away from him, then they're not familiar with…hopefully we can gain some field position by it. If people spend a lot of time doing something that they don't do well, they probably won't execute it as well.

Q: Do you think Wisconsin will kick to him this weekend?

Hill: I don't know. I'd imagine they'll kick to him. Why not?

Q: How has Jeff Grady handled the hoopla having to follow David Carr?

Hill: I think he's done a good job. He's getting tired of the same questions, but I think he's handling it very well. He's just looking forward to getting on the field and playing.

Q: Can you talk about what he does well?

Hill: He makes good decisions with the football. My number one priority with the quarterback is ball security. That's the number one thing we talk about with quarterbacks is ball security. Number two is getting the ball in the hands of people that can score touchdowns. That's what he needs to do to move the offense.

Q: How is your tailback situation shaping up in the absence of Derrick Ward?

Hill: We have no proven player. This will be the first time in a live setting, in a game-type situation…scrimmages, nine-on-seven, all the live stuff we do, it's nothing like a game. They're going to be under the lights on Friday, and that's a very unproven position. I'll know a lot more about it after it's over.

Q: Is the competition still pretty bunched up or has one guy stepped forward?

Hill: It's still very bunched up but we'll probably start off the game with a redshirt walk-on freshman named Matt Rivera.

Q: What do you like about him the most?

Hill: He makes good decisions with the football, he knows his burst assignments better than any of them, he's a patient runner. I like that the most about him.

Q: Have their been any adjustments with the new offensive coordinator?

Hill: They all have their own style. The terminology and the concepts are the same. Each person has his own style of teaching.

Q: Are you changing your offensive philosophy at all? Are you going to have to grind it out a little more this year?

Hill: Nope. We're not changing anything we do. We just have to get better at what we do.

Q: Do you think Marque Davis can take the same step Berrian took last year?

Hill: That's a great question. That's one of the ones I talk to Marque a lot (about). I think he needs to. He started the year off very well (last year). He played very well against Colorado and Wisconsin in particular, then got injured. I think Marque Davis is a big-time player, and I think there are a couple of young, redshirt freshmen that will really surprise people.

Q: How good is Marque's brother (Rodney Davis) and what characteristics does he have at tailback?

Hill: He's faster, he's built very powerfully. In high school, he played behind one of the top running back recruits in the country. He went to junior college, and he's only really been with us these three weeks and he's got himself to the point where he's going to be playing in this football game, so he's picked up things quickly. I really expect Rodney Davis to burst onto the scene hopefully early in the year.

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