The California Golden Bears are looking to revitalize their offense on Saturday, and they'll probably look to punish Fresno in the trenches with their superior size. Now a dire task for the Fresno St. Bulldogs just got even tougher. Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas was supposed to be the best player on the entire team and the man who would hold up the backlines from the Cal rush attack and deep receiving game, but a freak accident in practice will now leave him watching the majority (if not all) the season on the sidelines. Bryant-Jon Anteola of the Fresno Bee reports.
Thomas suffered a broken left leg and a high-ankle sprain at practice late Wednesday that will force him to miss Saturday's opener against Cal and likely the entire season.
The Bulldogs' top defensive back and playmaker was participating in a non-contact drill that focused on stopping the option run on Fresno State's grass practice field when he made a "full-speed plant, change of direction and snapped a bone in his leg," coach Pat Hill said.
The junior out of Bakersfield High underwent surgery Thursday and is expected to need at least 8 to 12 weeks of recovery, Hill added.
The injury to Thomas means that Fresno will have a totally green secondary on Saturday. Walk-on Cristin Wilson will have to replace him, so the downgrade from a potential NFL star like Thomas to Wilson is considerable. Derron Smith and Isaiah Green are both returning players, but without Thomas back there, Fresno's ability to defend plays in the open field could be greatly diminished. Keenan Allen and Marvin Jones could have some huge advantages in the secondary if Zach Maynard gets the pass protection he needs, and if the Cal tailbacks escape the first level on running plays, the running back platoon could run all over the Golden Bears on Saturday.
For more on the Cal-Fresno game, head to the California Golden Blogs.