FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The biggest question heading into Fresno State’s season opener against Hawaii was answered on Monday, when head coach Kalen DeBoer announced Washington transfer Jake Haener will be getting the start at quarterback on Saturday for the Bulldogs.
The fourth-year junior beat out redshirt sophomore Ben Wooldridge for the job.
Most thought of Haener as the preseason favorite to win the job heading into the Bulldogs abbreviated fall camp, considering he nearly won the starting quarterback job a year ago at Washington, before he transferred to Fresno State.
Wooldridge was Jorge Reyna’s backup last season, and saw limited action in a few games.
“Right now, we feel like Jake gives us the best chance for us to reach our full potential as a football team and as an offense,” said DeBoer in a press conference over zoom. “And you know, that’s a hard deal, because a guy like Wooldridge has put a lot into this program, and will continue to do so, and has carried himself in a very first-class way. And I know he’s gonna be there to support Jake. But you know, we’ve had three good practices (recently) in preparation for Hawaii, and Jake’s been taking all those snaps.”
DeBoer said the competition was extremely close, and that he and offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb went back and looked at all of the reps involving Haener and Wooldridge from every single training camp practice before making the decision. He says he spoke to both of the quarterbacks during the middle to the end of last week to inform them of the decision.
“You know, we were in good hands either way. It was a camp where they went above and beyond in their preparation leading into camp, and it showed. The execution they’ve had has been amazing,” said DeBoer. “We really haven’t made it a big deal within our team. I think they’re comfortable with either one. I think it’s more for the people outside the program that make a big story of it, and I get it. It’s the quarterback position and it’s the one position that everybody wants to know.”