McIntyre ahead of his time with Bulldogs |

McIntyre ahead of his time with Bulldogs

The APFresno State defensive lineman Garrett McIntyre, top right, knocks the ball loose from Oregon quarterback Jason Fife during a Sept. 7 game in Eugene, Ore. McIntyre is a freshman from South Lake Tahoe.

He’s no ordinary nonscholarship freshman football player.

Those guys usually retrieve field goals in the stands and spend most of their time either in the weight room or on the sidelines.

Fresno State University freshman defensive lineman Garrett McIntyre has quickly vaulted to near the top of the depth charts, and more importantly, given family and friends reason to attend home games.

“There’s no way I thought I’d be playing,” said McIntyre, a true freshman who played for South Tahoe High School last fall. “I thought I’d be redshirting, but the opportunity arose because one of the tackles quit and we had a couple of hurt players.

“I got a chance during practice and caught some coaches’ attention. I kept working hard and moving up and moving up. Hopefully I keep moving up, too.”

On Sept. 7, the former STHS middle linebacker played some crucial minutes in a 28-24 defeat at ninth-rated Oregon, the Pacific-10 Conference favorite in some corners of the country.

In fact, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound McIntyre sacked Oregon’s Jason Fife for an 8-yard loss early in the fourth period and then forced the Duck quarterback to fumble at the Fresno State 7 with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left.

“I came off my guy and ran around the back of him, then I put my hand in the right spot and just popped the ball out,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre finished his brilliant performance with two solo tackles — including a sack — and two assists, as well as the forced fumble that a teammate recovered.

“It’s a completely different game than high school,” McIntyre said. “It’s a really fast-paced game and the intensity level is a lot different. I like to compare it to a business. If you’re not producing, they won’t mourn for you, they’ll find someone to replace you.”

After starting out the season as the “Bus Driver” for the wedge blocking scheme on the return team, McIntyre’s role has grown to third-down pass-rushing specialist on the nickel packages.

“It was a different position, but I caught on quickly. It all started coming together the last couple of weeks,” said last year’s Sierra Division Defensive Player of the Year. “It’s based on a lot of the same ideas of football, staying low and technique. If you have good technique, you can pretty much play at any position. I’ve been working on technique a lot lately and it helps me out in the games.”

For the amount of playing time McIntyre is now giving the Bulldogs, the university has yet to reciprocate by tendering a scholarship. That will likely happen in the spring when the school has more available, McIntyre said.

“I really want to earn one,” he said. “There are some other kids on the defensive line with scholarships and they are third and fourth string.”

McIntyre has his eyes set on a starting position, but that goal might be more realistic next season.

“By next year I hope to be in the rotation to where I’m getting half of the plays. But I need to put a little weight on,” McIntyre said.

In the meantime, he may want to buckle up his chin strap extra tight this week because the Bulldogs will be entering a hostile environment at Oregon State. The Beavers took a No. 10 AP ranking and No. 1 Sports Illustrated rating into last year’s meeting in Fresno, and the Bulldogs pulled off a 44-24 upset in their home opener. Revenge is on the 3-0 Beavers’ minds and McIntyre is well aware of last year’s intense battle.

“Oregon State is a great team … a physical team … a trash-talking team,” McIntyre said. “Our coaches have been telling us it’s going to be a fight and battle and probably one of our biggest games so far.”

During Monday’s press conference Fresno State coach Pat Hill reiterated those thoughts.

“I think we’re going to walk into a hornet’s nest,” Hill said. “They’re going to be really excited and their fans are going to be into it and that’s good. It’s what a football game should be like. You’re going to have two highly motivated football teams.”

— Fresno State University sports information department contributed to this story.

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