AP Images/James D. Smith
November 29, 2013; Fresno State, ranked No. 16 in the country, traveled to the South Bay to face the San Jose Spartans on their home turf.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs was none other than now-Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who happened to be teammates with now-Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams. The two had helped Fresno State reach a perfect 10-0 record, and were slated to play a 5-6 San Jose State team fighting for a bowl game selection.
The bout between the two Mountain West foes turned into a shootout.
Carr dissected the Spartans defense, throwing for 519 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception. That interception, however, prevented the Bulldogs from mounting a comeback, and who was the player to pick off No. 4? Carr’s newest fullback, Keith Smith.
“Absolutely,” Smith said when asked if he intercepted Carr. “That was my senior year, Fresno State’s bowl game, ranking on the line, and I had to pick him off to seal the deal. So I did that. You can ask him about it, and he’ll be happy to tell you.”
The game resulted in a 62-52 Spartans victory, which featured Smith as a linebacker, prior to his eventual shift to a fullback. Now as a bruiser in the Raiders backfield, “Beef” (a nickname Smith has gone by since high school) would like Carr to know his game-sealing interception is in the past.
“No hard feelings, I don’t want this to come up anywhere else,” Smith said with a chuckle. “You [Carr] look the other way when it crosses your mind, but you know, it’s all love. Now we teammates, and God works in mysterious ways, and we’re together for a reason.”
To Smith’s point, the former Spartan is thrilled to be back in The Golden State, and more specifically the Bay. The Pomona, Calif., native has spent the last four years as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, who if you’ll recall, played the Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum last season in the fateful “index card game.” Playing in the Coliseum is an experience to say the least, and Smith is happy to be on the good side of things now.
“I think it was just the energy man, it’s just vibes,” he said when describing the OACC. “I’ve always been a big fan of the Bay Area vibes, and what it has to offer and what not, but once you step into that stadium you can feel the fan presence, and the history that’s been inside that stadium.”
As mentioned previously, Smith will now serve as the primary fullback in Head Coach Jon Gruden’s offense, after the team traded away fullback Jamize Olawale to the Cowboys Tuesday. The 25 year old notes that the shift from linebacker to fullback has benefited him immensely, and made him a more versatile player.
“I think that’s what the league is kind of going towards, the more you can do,” Smith stated. “You think about all the greats, Deion Sanders, those guys who did two way things. Going offense and defense, it’s just another weapon you can use. Just with the numbers game, it helps that out too in terms of making the squad.”
I’m not sure Smith will ever get the opportunity to pick off Carr again, but maybe taking handoffs from him isn’t such a bad thing either, and it’s clear he’s just happy to be one of the newest members of Raider Nation.
“It’s a blessing… ‘Beef’ is back in the Bay.”