With starting quarterback selected, Fresno State readies for Mountain West restart on Saturday

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After months of uncertainty, it is finally game week for the Bulldogs and Kalen DeBoer finally has his starting quarterback. The first year coach will go with junior Jake Haener, a transfer from the University of Washington. "Right now we feel like Jake gives us the best chance to reach our full potential as a football team, as an offense," he said. "Naturally that comes across like the other quarterback in this case Ben, doesn't do those things, and that's not the case at all."

Before the Bulldogs take the field against Hawaii this Saturday, coaches are trying to get players ready for a game day that none of them have experienced.

"Anyone who has played sports and football in particular would not recognize what we're going through on a daily basis," DeBoer said.

At his first weekly press conference of the season, which was done virtually over Zoom, DeBoer pulling the curtain back on how the team's locker rooms are up to COVID protocols. "The showers have never been turned on in our locker room," he said. Players are dispersed across four locker room areas and a maximum of 12 players are allowed in at one time.

"We'd love them to have a barbeque, 10, 15, 20 guys getting together at someone's house just hanging out," DeBoer said. "We're telling guys not to do that so the chemistry piece is something that's going to be ever evolving."

He had hoped to add new game day traditions on his first year that encouraged fans to be in their seats early but with no fans allowed for the foreseeable future, DeBoer was forced to call an audible. "Our 'March to Victory' usually goes through the fans and the tailgating and none of that exists so our march to victory will take a different route."

It'll also be a different week of prep. To get used to the pumped in, artificial crowd noise, the team will practice inside Bulldog Stadium Tuesday-Thursday to get used to that piped in noise.

With so much change, DeBoer's offseason focus was on the common theme among Bulldogs past and present. Something his team heard about from a number of guest speakers. "Guys like Pat Hill, Derek Carr," DeBoer said. "All those guys who when you think about Bulldog football, were great representatives of the program and over and over and over they talked about being Bulldog tough."

All that's left now is for DeBoer to lead his team down the ramp and onto the field for the first time, something he says he visualized with his daughter back on September 5th, the original date for the Dogs home opener.

"Just pulled up every intro that we could find from Fresno State football and I actually got emotional just thinking about that. At that time we didn't think there would be a fall and probably what I get emotional about is thinking what the guys were missing because this is their time. How many games have I coached and my window for coaching is going to continue on hopefully," DeBoer said. "But these guys get this small window to play Bulldog football. That's what I'll be thinking about when we go down the ramp is 'Man we're doing this."

Kickoff against Hawaii is set for this Saturday at 4:30 PM. Catch highlights that night on ABC30 at 8 & 11 PM and a full recap in Bulldog Breakdown Sunday at 5 PM.
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