Friday, September 30, 2005

We Don't Want to Play Fresno State Bowl

Texas Tech plays host to Kansas this weekend in the creampuff killer classic. Both schools are undefeated, but neither team has played anybody of any significance. It could have been different, both were scheduled to play at Bulldog Stadium in 2005. Hence, the we don't want to play Fresno State Bowl.

The 2005 Fresno State home schedule was suppose to be one of the most attractive in school history. Opening weekend, September 3, the Kansas Jayhawks were scheduled to play Fresno State for the first time in school history, part of a home and home. Fresno State was to return to Lawrence, KS in 2007. Texas Tech was scheduled September 10 as a return game from Fresno State's visit to Lubbock in 1998.

What happened? Kansas moved their game with Fresno State to 2009. Texas Tech had previously moved their game at Fresno State from 2002 to 2003, and finally to 2005. They did all that rescheduling, only to buy out the contract in 2004.

Are these big bad Bowl Championship Series schools afraid of a school from the WAC? Maybe, but the old Bulldogs athletic director has to be at fault, too. What other major university has a buyout clause so cheap that it makes it easy for a school to weasel out of their commitment.

Texas Tech and Kansas are not perennial national title contenders. Their stadiums seat around 51,000 and are not accustomed to selling out. It is not like Tennessee or Georgia where an athletic department is losing millions by not having a home game.

It is not like Texas Tech or Kansas scheduled big name opponents for television purposes. Who did they schedule in Fresno State's absence? Home games against Division IA newcomers Florida International and Florida Atlantic.

Whatever the case may have been, both schools avoided traveling to Bulldog Stadium this year. I doubt Kansas will come to Fresno in 2009. Since Pat Hill became coach of Fresno State in 1997, the Bulldogs have played host to a BCS team just four times. Baylor has been the only one to come away victorious in Hill's first year. Cal in 2000 and Oregon State in 2001 and 2003 have all lost in Fresno.

Besides the two playing head to head today , another creampuff killer Oklahoma State did not fulfill its return game to Fresno. The 'Pokes changed the date from 2001, to 2002, 2003, but eventually bought on the contract in 2003.

Again, the former AD has to be at fault. He was never much of an Athletic Director, more like a used car salesman. New life has finally been brought into the athletic department with the hiring of Thomas Boeh as AD.

Fresno State has its best AD since Gary Cunningham. Back in the day before Al Bohl and the hiring of Jerry Tarkanian, but that is a totally different story.

October Struggles

Fresno State has another Saturday off and it just happens to be October 1. October has not been a good month for Pat Hill and Fresno State in past years. Twice in the month of October Fresno State's Bowl Championship Series dreams were dashed, last year and 2001.

Will this year be different? The BCS is off the table and the WAC title is theirs for the taking, so maybe yes. Fresno State has three straight games against WAC newcomers New Mexico State, Utah State, and Idaho. The Bulldogs will be heavy favorites in all three, and that leads up to the October finale against Hawaii on the Island on the 29th. If Fresno State is going to lose in October this year, it will be at Hawaii. Pat Hill has never won at Hawaii, and Fresno State as a whole has only one win on the Island, and that was in 1994.

Well, players and coaches are enjoying the extra time between games. As well, for the hardcore Bulldog fans that are also hardcore college football fans, idle weeks let us watch some more college football that we would otherwise miss during a Bulldog football Saturday.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Toledo Game Recap: Special Teams and Defense Shine

Photo (AP)


There is not much to complain about Fresno State's 44-14 win Tuesday night over Toledo. The Rockets were without Heisman candidate Bruce Gradkowski, but it would have not made a difference in the outcome.

Fresno State started slow, and Toledo took advantage early on in the first quarter. The Rockets marched down the field into Bulldog territory on their first possession, but were knocked out of field goal range by an Ikenna Ike sack. Plays like that were missing in the loss at Oregon; the Bulldogs totaled four sacks for the game.

After Fresno State went three and out for the second straight time, Toledo drove for a touchdown, and had a 7-0 lead after its second possession. Gradkowski's absence did not seem to be making a difference in the Rockets offense in the first quarter.

Pat Hill pulled his team aside during the media timeout after the Rocket touchdown. He gave his players a good pep talk. Following the timeout, Adam Jennings returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards to the Bulldog's 47 yard line.

Fresno State then drove 53 yards for the touchdown, a one yard pass to Paul Williams on the first play of the second quarter. Bryson Sumlin took over running back duties from starter Wendell Mathis and carried the ball seven times for 41 yards on the drive. It seemed to be the difference maker, or at least that is what ESPN analyst Craig James kept saying as the Bulldogs started to take control of the game.

Fresno State would force the Rockets to punt on their next possession and took possession at their own 18. The Bulldogs then embarked on their longest drive of the game, nine plays 82 yards, for their second touchdown. Sumlin again highlighted this drive with two catches for 41 yards, including the 20 yard touchdown reception. The rout was on.

Fresno State's offense did not have to do much after this point of the game. The Fresno State defense would score a touchdown on a Tyrone Culver fumble return and Richard Marshall would recover another fumble for the Bulldogs with 4:21 left in the half at the Toledo 34.

Mathis capped the 34 yard drive with a one yard touchdown plunge with :25 left before halftime. Fresno State took a 27-7 lead at the half.

Clint Cochran made his first career start, but Toledo's failures were not his fault. Cochran did not line up on the special team units that gave up huge return yards over and over to Jennings or allowed an unblocked Ricky Miller to block a punt inside the five yard line. Cochran did not commit a fumble, and only threw one interception the entire game.

Fresno State made the correct adjustments after Toledo scored in the first quarter. Fresno State was able to pressure Cochran, and the late arriving Bulldog crowd was a huge factor in the second and third quarters, causing numerous procedure penalties and forcing the Rockets to use their timeouts.

Cochran's inexperience may have led to Toledo's conservative play calling, but a lot had to do with Fresno State playing good defense and not allowing Toledo to use their passing game effectively. The Bulldogs did give up 92 yards on the ground to Trinity Dawson, but stopped the run when they needed to. It is still a mystery if Fresno State would have been prepared for the no huddle offense on Tuesday. Without the services of Gradkowski, Toledo did use the no huddle that much at all.

After it was all said and done, Cochran did not play all that bad. Gradkowski probably would have avoided the pass rush better, and would have released the ball sooner than Cochran, but there were some rookie mistakes, too. Like Cochran crossing the line of scrimmage to complete a pass. Penalties also killed the Rockets Tuesday night. Every time Toledo started to gain some confidence, they were penalized.

It would have not mattered if Toledo was at full strength and there were no costly penalties. Fresno State dominated the Rockets in every phase of the game, except total yards, but for those who watched the game, there was no denying who the better team was.

The Bulldogs have an eleven day gap before the conference opener at New Mexico State on October 8. Fresno State has had insurmountable trouble winning games in October under Pat Hill.

The Bulldogs last played NMSU in 1991, a 42-28 Fresno State win. There is no reason for Fresno State not to blow out its next five opponents, including the four in October.

Fresno State is unbelievably strong on both sides of the ball, and the special teams are among the best in the nation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Toledo Game Highlights

Fresno State vs Toledo 9/27/05 Highlights

courtesy of Paul Blair(aka Toadlife)
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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fresno State 44 Toledo 14

Photo (AP)

Some Quick Notes: RECAP

It sucked that Bruce Gradkowski did not suit up and play. The game would have been more competitive.

Fresno State recorded 5 sacks(unofficial), almost doubling the season total thus far.

Bryson Sumlin was back to his usual self, minus the fumble.

The offensive line looked great. No sacks allowed, no false starts, nor holds.

Pinegar did what was needed, he did not have to be spectacular today.

The linebackers are unreal. IMO, they are the strongest part of the defense.

Special teams were great, minus Stitser's missed PAT.

No real challenge left for the Bulldogs from now until Boise State comes to town November 10. Herbstreit will be in the house for that game, and for those who will miss it in person, it will be broadcast in HDTV.

44 Unanswered

Fresno State is rolling in all phases. Ricky Miller blocks a punt, Paul Williams takes it three yards for the touchdown, now up 37-7.

Its a bummer that Gradkowski did not get to play. Tonight's game is reminding me of Virginia Tech's 51-7 win over Georgia Tech. GT was without starting quarterback Reggie Ball, and Virginia Tech scored 21 points on defense and special teams.

Amstutz is staying conservative, and Toledo does not have a chance. Toledo should spread it around, the run game is not working.

Sumlin just scores his second touchdown of the game, 44-7 Bulldogs.

The Pony and The Crowd

Craig James was bagging on the crowd at the start of the game, for being quiet and inspired. Now in the third quarter, he is amazed how loud the late arriving crowd is.


The worse loss in the Tom Amstutz era was in 2001, a 56-21 loss at Urban Meyer coached Bowling Green. Toledo has only been held under ten points once in the Amstutz era, 34-7 loss at Syracuse in 2003.

Slow Start

It took thirteen game minutes before Fresno State got its first 1st down. Sumlin just their second and third. The power run game seems to have finally woke up this year. This a very good sign. I have not seen Fresno State run the ball this good since the MPC Computers Bowl.

Sumlin all the way to the one, with the fake reverse to Paul Williams. Sumlin stuffed on the one on the last play of the first quarter. 2nd and goal, and Fresno State seems to finally have gotten some offensive rhythm in this game.

Gradkowski Out?

Vegas thinks so. The line on the game has jumped to Fresno State -14. If redshirt freshman Clint Cochran can run the Toledo spread, the Rockets still will have some success. It should be no different than if Gradkowski was playing at 60-80%. If Cochran is a deer in headlights, the Bulldogs will romp by at least three touchdowns.

I do not know much about Cochran to make an accurate prediction. He is 14-16 for 92 yards on the year, which is a pretty impressive completion rate. Bulldog Stadium is not the ideal place to make your first career start. Fresno State will win, but it remains to be seen by how much. It is all in the hands of Clint Cochran.

Bulldog fans, much of the nation knows little about Tom Brandstater, but many fans feel confident that if Pinegar went down, the offense would not miss a beat. I wonder how confident Rocket fans are tonight?

Gameday: Bulldogs vs Rockets

It is finally here, post Oregon redemption. The extra couple of days helped me clear my mind of the loss at Oregon. Losing at Autzen by three is not the worse thing in the world. Just ask former #9 Louisville how bad it feels to lose by 31 at half empty Raymond James Stadium to USF.

Boise State's huge win over Bowling Green six days ago puts some added pressure on Fresno State. Toledo and UTEP are the only non-BCS teams still unbeaten, and Fresno State is carrying the flag for the WAC against the MAC today.


Bruce Gradkowski is questionable and his status is a game-day decision. Toledo's Coach Tom Amstutz' goals are a MAC title and a bowl game, not the BCS. He will not risk further injury to Gradkowski for a chance at an unblemished season at the expense of losing him for the MAC title run.

NCAA 06 Prediction

According to EA Sports NCAA Football 06 on Playstation 2, the Dogs and Rockets have a high scoring shootout.

Gradkowski is near perfect, in leading Toledo to a 24-7 halftime lead. Tailback Scooter McDougle has over 100 yards rushing, and the Dogs have no answer for the Rocket offense early on. Fresno State overcomes multiple Paul Pinegar interceptions in the first half, to close the gap at 34-21 to end the third quarter.

The Bulldog run game comes alive in the fourth quarter, but the outcome looks bleak. Toledo looks to have iced the game on McDougle's second td run, at 41-21.

Marcus McCauley has a big interception that turns the momentum around, and Paul Williams continues his 200+ yard career night with 2 tds catches.

Bryson Sumlin caps Fresno State's 20 point comeback, with a 1 yard plunge with less than a minute to play. Bulldogs escape with a 42-41 win when Gradkowski's Hail Mary falls incomplete as time expires.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Other Way Around

Oregon coach Mike Bellotti is complaining about the officiating during the USC-Oregon game. Specifically, two calls that negated two Duck touchdowns. Bellotti believes if the proper calls were made, the game might have had a different outcome.

Bellotti did not seem to mind the officials calling 16 penalties against Fresno State the week before. There were many calls that might have swung the game the Bulldogs way. Mike, the door swings both ways, but not always the way you want.

Rita Wrecks Fresno State's Plans

The pregame ceremony scheduled for Tuesday to retire David Carr's number 8 has been postponed , due to the aftermath of Hurricane Rita.

No date has been rescheduled for the ceremony.

Early Line on Fresno State vs Toledo

The early line has Fresno State -9.5, but the game is circled due to the uncertainty of Toledo quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. This is a tempting pick, if Gradkowski plays, he is probably not going to be 100%. This may be just a smoke screen, and Coach Amstutz and Bruce will open the flood gates, and swallow the Fresno State pass defense whole.

This will be a fun game to watch. Tune in Tuesday at 6 pm PT on ESPN2.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Spread 'Em: Toledo Game Preview

posted on the Barkboard

Fresno State versus Toledo, a great match up of a power running team against an all out passing team. The funny thing is the smash mouth Bulldogs are 69th in the nation in rushing but 10th in passing. On the flip side, the pass happy Rockets are 44th in the pass, but a surprising 23rd in rushing. It should be the other way around, right? Fresno State returns Bryson Sumlin and Wendell Mathis, two 995 yard plus rushers, plus five offensive lineman with starting experience. While, Toledo has senior Heisman Trophy candidate Bruce Gradkowski directing the spread offense.

I am sure no one would have thought at the start of the season Fresno State’s Paul Pinegar would be on pace to throw for 3,642 yards and 30 touchdowns, but he is. If he keeps it up, he will shatter David Carr’s record of 70 career touchdown passes. Carr will be there live to see Pinegar in action Tuesday night, well at least the first quarter. Carr will have his number eight retired in a ceremony just before kickoff at 5:30 pm. He will leave around 7:00 pm after a live interview with ESPN 2.

Carr will miss a great match up of conference front runners. Bruce Gradkowski will be the best quarterback to walk down the ramp at Bulldog Stadium since Carr himself. Gradkowski’s health is a concern. He had trouble breathing after taking a hit in the first half last week against Temple. He sat out the first series of the second half, but continued to play with some obvious pain. There is no doubt Gradkowski will suit up and play against the Bulldogs, the question is, whether he will be 100 percent?

Toledo runs a spread offense, similar to what Fresno State saw last week at Oregon, but different in many ways. The Rockets give defenses fits with their myriad formations, screen passes and quick strike capability.

John Shannon took over for former offensive coordinator Rob Spence this year, and the offense has not missed a beat. The Rockets are averaging 468.7 yards per game compared to the 459.2 last year. Through their first three games, they are showing good balance averaging 220 yards rushing and 248.7 passing. Toledo has beaten their opponents by the average score of 53.3 to 18, yet Western Illinois, Western Michigan, and Temple are nothing to write home about.

The surprise for the Toledo offense early on has been the play of redshirt freshman running back Richard Davis. The 6’0 200lb Davis leads the Rockets in rushing averaging 74 yards a game, and has a kickoff return for a touchdown, while backing up starter Trinity Dawson.

The receiving corps was depleted due to graduation and only returned one starter in Steve Odom this year. Tight end Chris Hopkins leads the team with 11 receptions. The receivers have yet to face a secondary as hard-nosed and fast as Fresno State’s. This is the biggest match up of the game. If Toledo’s receivers get open, the game will become a shootout.

Fresno State’s secondary was picked apart by Oregon’s Kellen Clemens. Receivers found open pockets in the zone, when the Ducks ran the no huddle offense. Surprise, Toledo uses the no huddle, as well. The Bulldog’s lack of a pass rush from the defensive front had a lot do with Clemens’ and his receiver’s success.

The Bulldog’s defensive adjustments from last week’s game to this week’s game against Toledo will be the key. Garrett McIntyre is probable for the game, and his presence alone will not be enough. The Bulldogs also failed to get pressure on Weber State’s Ian Pizarro, and have only totaled three sacks for the season.

Toledo can not line up and just pound the football. That is not their style, but the Bulldogs have not been able to contain the quarterback from scrambling out of the pocket. Gradkowski is not known as a runner, but he can move, especially, if there are open lanes. Fresno State’s linebackers are playing good. Ahijah Lane’s play against Oregon was instrumental, as he recorded two sacks. Fresno State might have to continue to use Lane to put pressure on Gradkowski.

Fresno State opened up the playbook and Paul Pinegar had a career night against the Ducks. His 33 pass completions and 418 yards through the air were Autzen Stadium records. Bulldog receiver Paul Williams also had a breakthrough game catching 5 balls for 122 yards and a touchdown. The Bulldog running game has yet to reveal itself in the first two games. Toledo will get to see plenty of Mathis and Sumlin Tuesday, as the Bulldogs should have plenty of success on the ground.

Oregon put eight in the box and forced Fresno State to pass, and Pinegar lit up the Duck defense. Toledo does not have the defensive line to stop Fresno State, even if they gear up to stop the run. Toledo’s defensive coordinator Tim Rose is familiar with Fresno State. Rose held the same position at Louisiana Tech last year when they upset Fresno State 28-21.

Rose uses a 3-4 base defense, the same he used at Louisiana Tech last year. Rose has some playmakers on his Toledo defense. Linebacker Anthony Jordan is a monster in the middle. He leads the Rockets with 29 tackles, and is tied for first in tackles for losses with three. Rover Keon Jackson is better than any of the defensive backs Fresno State saw last week at Oregon. Jackson is second on the team with 20 tackles, and has returned an interception for a touchdown against Temple.

Toledo fans might feel confident that Rose’s defense at Louisiana Tech held Fresno State to 21 points last year, but that is moot. Fresno State ran for 269 yards last year on Rose’s defense, and the Bulldogs look to do the same this year. The Bulldogs fell apart in Ruston last year because the defense could not stop running back Ryan Moats, and the passing game was non existent throwing for a mere 104 yards.

Pinegar is sixth in the nation in passing efficiency this year and I do not see a number 20 with the name Moats on Toledo’s roster. Fresno State 42, Toledo 28.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Similar Goals....

Toledo's head coach Tom Amstutz was born and raised in Toledo, and is a 1977 graduate of the University. He is dedicated to building the Toledo program and taking it to national prominence, much like what Pat Hill is continuing to do at Fresno State.

Former Rocket head coach Gary Pinkel left for Missouri after the Rockets 10-1 finish in 2000. Amstutz followed Pinkel to Missouri and was an assistant for only two weeks before being named head coach at Toledo.

Toledo will be making its 16th national television appearance since Amstutz became head coach at the start of the 2001 season. Toledo only made nine national television appearances prior to 2001. The Rockets have also won two conferences titles under his leadership and have been to a bowl three out of his four years.

There are no two better coaches that are trying to build a program outside the BCS than the two that will meet Tuesday night.


Toledo Blowouts!

Can Fresno State do what Minnesota and Kansas did to the Rockets last year? The Golden Gophers whipped Toledo 63-21 at the Metrodome. The following week the Jayhawks did one better with a 63-14 romp over the Rockets.

The uncertainty of Rocket quarterback Bruce Gradkowski might make it tough for Toledo to win. There is still no current line on the game since it is considered a week five contest.

This will still be a great match up even if Gradkowski does not play, Toledo's offensive philosophy will not change. Fresno State's pass defense flaked at Oregon and Toledo is the perfect test see if adequate adjustments have been made.

The Little Engine That Could......

A walk on redshirt freshman running back's first career start just happens to be the season opener at Camp Randall Stadium against the 23rd ranked Wisconsin Badgers on national TV. What happens in his senior? He is listed second on the depth chart at fullback. That is Bulldog senior running back Matt Rivera. The senior was thrust into the starting role as a freshman when senior Derrick Ward became ineligible, and senior Josh Levi left the program in 2002.

He beat out JC transfer, and eventual starter, Rodney Davis because of his hard work, dedication, and knowledge of the offense. 2002 was a down year in terms of talent and depth in the Fresno State backfield after the losses of Ward and Levi. Davis had a banner year, breaking the Fresno State season rushing record. Another walk on Bryson Sumlin became a reliable back up, while Rivera was regulated to spot duty on passing downs.

At times in the past three years, I would get frustrated to see Rivera in the backfield when Fresno State has had so much better talent at running back. Yet, I just can not help but respect the guy for sticking it out. This year with three running backs that could start for almost any team in the country ahead of Rivera, his playing time looked bleak.

Hey, he still had passing downs, right? Nope, former DB Clifton Smith was moved to the offense in the Spring. Smith is a gamebreaker, and his receiving ability made Rivera's playing time look minimal at best.

Well, what do you know, backup fullback Nathan Adams gets hurt in spring and Smith was lost for the season last week at Oregon. Rivera is now needed more than ever. He is Fresno State's most experienced back, and even with limited athletic ability, he will play his hardest when called upon.

Rivera reminds me of another underrated walk on running back Fresno State had, Jaime Kimbrough(95-98).(pictured top right)

Injury Reports

Garrett McIntyre and DeWayne Wright are practicing for the first time since their respective injuries.



Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bulldogs vs Rockets

The big Tuesday showdown is near. The MAC versus the WAC part two. Boise State annihilated Bowling Green Wednesday night 48-20, in part one. Fresno State will look to do the same to Toledo.

Toledo is a better overall team than Bowling Green, and may even be better than the Oregon team that beat Fresno State last week. At least quarterback Bruce Gradkowski will be the best quarterback Fresno State will see all season outside of Southern California.

For depth charts and other info check out the FRESNO STATE FOOTBALL RELEASE.

David Carr's Jersey will be Retired.......

Number 8 will be retired Tuesday night prior to the home game with Toledo. David Carr led the nation in passing yards and touchdowns in 2001. He also won the Johnny Unitas, Sammy Baugh, and Pop Warner Trophies. He will join former quarterbacks Trent Dilfer, Kevin Sweeney, receiver Henry Ellard, kicker Vince Petrucci, and running back Dale Messer as the only Bulldogs to have had their number retired.

Carr is deserving of getting his jersey retired, but one has to think the program is just getting started, there will many more great players deserving of number retirement in the future. In my humble opinion the University needs to put a moratorium on jersery retirement for the next 15-20 years.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Quit Whining about the Ducks and Bring on the Rockets.......................

Toledo has been one of the more successful non-BCS schools in recent years. The Rockets last had a losing season in 1993. The Rockets are flying under the radar this year, but are still the defending Mid-American conference champs.

Toledo was a
preseason top 25 team last year by many publications. The Sporting News, Street & Smiths, CNN/SI, Blue Ribbon, and Gold Sheet all had Toledo in their preseason polls before the season began.

This year's Rockets are every bit as good as last year, if not better. The reason the Rockets are not getting the same hype as last year, is they flopped in their first two games last year against BCS opponents. Minnesota beat Toledo 63-21, and Kansas was even worse, getting beat 63-14.

The media has backed off the Rockets this year, but quarterback
Bruce Gradkowski is all Bulldog fans need to know about. Gradkowski will be the best quarterback to set foot in Bulldog Stadium since the gentlemen who is getting his jersey retired , the night the Rockets come to town.

This will be the first meeting between Toledo and Fresno State, but the Rockets have played in Bulldog Stadium twice before. Toledo represented the MAC in the first ever Cal Bowl in 1981 and again in 1984.

Bulldog fans whine about Fresno State getting no respect. Toledo finished 2000 10-1, including a 24-6 win at Penn State in the season opener, but finished the season unranked. Their only loss was at 9-3 Western Michigan.

Can't wait for the Rockets.

Batman Grounded

Clifton Smith will miss the rest of the season with a torn knee ligament. Fresno State lost running back DeWayne Wright last year to a similar injury, and he is still recovering this year. If there was a position Fresno State could afford an injury it was running back, but Smith was a special player. His presence will be missed on offense, and especially special teams.

Monday, September 19, 2005

From a Duck Fan...........

Fresno State fans,

Can’t help but write about a very good program. This series between our two programs I think is here to stay. I will say there is a little talent difference between the two programs right now, but it’s mostly in depth and we know we have to bring our “A” game when we play you to keep from being beat.

I wish next season, when we come down there, TBS, ESPN or ABC would decide to change our game date and make it a Wednesday or Thursday night Season opener and introduce the series to the rest of the country. The last four games certainly prove both teams bring a very entertaining game to the table.

Now about Saturday, Our punting was bad, very bad, but I think ended in our favor as we really took your punt returner out of the picture and kept him from breaking a big one on us. It might have been the second biggest reason we won. The first being no huddle offense. I think your defense will end up being the second best defense we face this season and we had to neutralize it as best we could with the no huddle offense.

I see a good shot at 9-2 for you guys; you might have a few problems with that other Pac 10 School on your schedule. I hope that’s good enough for a great bowl trip for you guys. That should be one of our Goals … meet you at a neutral field for a bowl game/party!! Could happen some day soon.

Thanks for being great fans.

Jim the Duck

thanks to Jim for contributing a guest post on the Fresno State Football Blog.....

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Pat Hill Show Recap

As posted on the BarkBoard by Pryme Tyme

Paul Loeffler sitting in for Bill Woodward (yea!!!!).Pat Hill pimping the QB Club Tailgate. QB Club on next Monday will have David Carr speaking! He'll be in town for his number retirement that night. RSVP to the QB Club Office 559-278-7801 because seats are limited.Pat seems in a very good mood today, despite the loss.Said he is proud at how tough we played. Said it was a big time football game. Proud of how well his players and coaches prepared.Update on Clifton Smith...won't play against Toledo. May not play this year, but they are hoping he'll be back this year. But they still don't know the extent of the injury.Losing Clifton took them out of a lot the packages they had planned on running.Applauded defense for playing well at many points during the game. Said it was a tough venue to play in, and it went down to the wire. In spite of everything, they still had chances to win the ball game.Said he is looking forward to playing them in Fresno. Paul asked him if he thinks the Ducks will make it to Fresno next year. Hill said he hopes so.Game came down to a couple of plays. Called the timeout at 2:16...had to be used because they did not want Paul to make a mistake since they needed at least a field goal. Had to design a play to get Matt Rivera open. Sound of the crowd meant they wanted to make sure they got the play called right. Couldn't just hand signal it in.Went for the onside because best case, they get the ball back maybe with 50 seconds left. Thought their best chance was for the onside.Oregon getting to 4th and inches was the worst scenario because it meant they could go for it with little risk.Criticized himself for not calling the timeout after the last 3rd down faster. Wasted 9-10 seconds. But he did not want to burn it immediately in case it was not out of bounds. Said the linesman wasn't clear if it was out of bounds, and he had to run after him to call the timeout.Officials admitted at half time they made a mistake spotting the ball in the first half that cost valuable time.Phone calls...Dean...question...why didn't you go for it on 4th and 1 early? was actually 4th and 2...too far to go for it. Would have gone for it at 4th and 1. Called their sting punt, and pinned them at the 4.Pat says he's never been one to criticize officials. He's always said after those games they are undisciplined. He is not longer saying that. He went back and looked at the games. In all games vs BCS teams they average 16 penalties. In all WAC games 6. Said discipline is fine. Only 3 undisciplined plays were the false start penalties, but credit to the Oregon crowd for noise.John...Giving a lot of positive remarks on how many players we have in the NFL. Talked about a negative caller on the post game who said Fresno State can't compete in these games.Pat...said the game wasn't determined till the last 38 seconds. Said Oregon had to play their best game to win. Said they have been very competitive in these games.John...said he thinks officials are aware if BCS teams lose to a Fresno State or Boise, those BCS conferences are out $4 million for missing another possible BCS bowl.Pat...talked about how motivated Toledo will be. Won 9 games last year, 3-0 this year. This is the game they are pointing to (Toledo), so it's going to be a war.Hard to get a pass rush on Oregon because of all the little dump offs. Said it wasn't those plays that hurt so much as a handful of big plays...Colvin TD, Whitehead run, etc.Pat talks about Toledo...their offense is designed to move the ball. If the QB is on, it's a tough game. Gradowski is a very good, accurate QB. Similar to Oregon...spread option. This tape will be very valuable for SC to see because they saw a lot of patterns, and the no huddle. Couldn't run the option to the perimeter, so that exposed a lot of things for SC. Pinegar 77% on passes so far.Larry...asked about any blitzes run in the first half.Pat...we didn't blitz much. You take a big risk blitzing an offense like that because Clemens can run. It's like blitzing a run option take a lot of risks. Adjusted in the second half and had some success stopping it. Had to play on eggshells because of all the pass interference calls which didn't go both ways in how they were called.David...Noise level was incredible...he was at the game. Understands the penalties from false start because it was so loud. Pat...heck of an environment to play in. But that the noise wasn't as big a factor as some might think. Said he bets Boise will be sold out on Wednesday night, in spite of being 0-2. That he hopes our fans show up on Tuesday vs. Toledo.Dennis...Just got back from Eugene. Commended Coach Hill has given Fresno State a chance to compete physically with BCS teams.Pat...said he believes FSU is in the top 25% of college football teams. Said Oregon knew they were in a fight from the first snap.Pat...all the sets they run are run with further games down the road. Had some good matchups they wanted against Oregon.Dennis...will WAC crews work our games when BCS schools come to Fresno?Pat...He hopes. But they can't bank on having refs, you have to win in spite of those things. Said Frank Cignetti and his staff have done an outstanding job preparing this season.No Pat Hill show next Monday since they play on Tuesday.Allan...Said offense is beautiful. Noted how big Oregon's offensive line is, and how hard it was for our DL to get around them.Pat...offensive scheme is very good, but we've played big OL before and had success. Clemens had success largely on small passes...curls, digs and swing passes. But we need to have a dominant pass rusher. Haji Lane was a great "spy guy" and made a lot of plays to not allow contain to break. Gave credit to Oregon and Clemen for having a hot hand and making plays. Game was still contested to the last 4th down possession.Pat talked about players doing so many good things off the field and in the class room.Earl the Pearl...commended the coaches for building the team with top local talent.Pat said there is a lot of great football in this valley in the high school and JC's.Pat commended Oregon's great shuttle service to get fans to the game. Would like to see us do that here. Said we have not even scratched the surface on what we could be as a program.Steve from AG...Proud of the Dogs, proud to be a fan.Pat...too bad we couldn't seal the deal, but we need the fans more than ever because we still have the chance for a great year. We need our fans more than ever.


Paul Pinegar's career record night is recongized by WAC as the best of the week.

Stanford Should Have Scheduled Fresno State Instead of the Aggies...........

Fresno State and Stanford did not have any official talks of setting up any sort of match up, let alone a home and home. Stanford should have at least entertained the idea considering what the alumni are going to be saying this week. The Cardinal were embarrassed by UC Davis at home 20-17. Davis was 0-2, both losses at home to I-AA schools New Hampshire and Portland State.

Imagine if Fresno State would have traveled to Palo Alto, there would have been a see of red. What did Stanford gain by scheduling UC Davis, only 31,250 showed up to see Stanford squander a 17-0 lead. The Cardinal did not even get one offensive touchdown Saturday. Fresno State's Red Wave would have come out in full force for a game with Stanford. The schools have not played since the 1920's. At least 15,000 fans would have made the trip up the US 101.

Fresno State and Stanford both had an open date on September 3. Fresno State would not have had to schedule Weber State, and Stanford would not have had to be embarrassed by the Aggies this past weekend.

A loss to Fresno State is forgivable, but a loss to Davis is humiliating. Stanford's new head coach Walt Harris was the former coach of UOP in the early nineties. He has played Fresno State before in the old Big West conference. Hopefully, some time in the future Fresno State will show up on the Cardinal's schedule.

Recap: Oregon Won a Battle of Good Offenses, but Average Defenses

Box Score

As I watched the game, it reminded me so much of the old WAC, lots of offense and very little defense. Fresno State and Oregon must tighten up their defenses or both are facing losses in their next game. The Bulldog's dominated the first quarter, the Ducks the second and both played evenly in the second half. Neither team looked great on defense, or proved worthy to be ranked in the top 25.

Fresno State fans, Pat Hill opened up the playbook, and Fresno State still lost. What Hill and Cignetti did against Oregon is what they tried to do against Boise State last year, but Paul Pinegar showed how great of a quarterback he is Saturday. A lot of his performance has to be attributed to him being injury free. It is evident that he has the confidence in his arm that he has not had the last two years. He made the all throws, and besides the one interception and bad pass to McDonald, he made little or no mistakes.

Oregon won Saturday's game because their coaching staff was better prepared. The Duck coaches had a backup plan and it worked beautifully. Fresno State was prepared to take what the Oregon defense gave them, but failed to work the run game in more. The Ducks stuck eight in the box, and Pinegar picked them apart in the first three drives for a quick 17-0 lead, but the offense sputtered the rest of the first half.

On defense Fresno State's coaches were prepared for the option, but had no answer for the no-huddle. Toledo has to be licking their chops, after watching the tape. Their spread is far more in tune than Oregon's, but the Rocket's athletes are not as talented.

Garrett McIntyre's absence had an influence on the defensive line's dismal performance, but the front four looked average at best against Weber State the week before, too. I, like many, attributed Fresno State's performance against Weber State as Fresno State running basic coverage and using very little blitz packages. Fresno State looked just as lost against the Ducks. In both games Fresno State was unable to put pressure on or contain the quarterback.

Richard Marshall was not his normal self, and neither was the Fresno State secondary. Against Weber State the secondary looked out of synch and it carried over to Autzen Stadium. Marshall was beat twice for touchdowns and was flagged for pass interference multiple times. Kellen Clemens had all day to throw the ball and repeatedly found receivers open in the zone. Bulldog players talked of not being able to hear their plays on defense, but that is inexcusable. The coaching staff should have been better prepared to handle the crowd noise.

Chalk one up for Oregon's offensive coordinator Gary Crowton for implementing a great game plan and for out coaching Dan Brown. Just like in years past against Boise State, the defense did not make adjustments quick enough. It cost the Bulldogs in the second quarter when Oregon scored twenty unanswered points.

Fresno State's secondary can not be blamed totally, it all starts up front. Ahijah Lane was spectacular. His speed proved to be what was missing on Fresno State's defensive line in the second quarter. Fresno State was unable to put any pressure on the quarterback except for a Jason Shirley pass knock down and Lane's two sacks.

Lane's sacks could not have come at more important times. His first came near the end of the second quarter when Oregon was driving at will on the Bulldogs. His sack on third down forced a punt and halted the Ducks twenty point second quarter. His last came in the middle of the fourth, after Fresno State had just pulled within three points at 30-27. The momentum finally was starting to shift back to Fresno State's favor. Oregon was deep in their own territory, trying to answer the Bulldog's score when Lane sacked Clemens on third down forcing the Ducks to punt. Fresno State got great field position after the punt near the Oregon 40, but was unable to capitalize.

Fresno State never got the run game going. The Bulldog's best runs were scrambles by Pinegar when receivers were covered. Oregon geared up to stop the run, but after Pinegar softened that up with the pass, the Bulldogs should have pounded it. Regardless, it proved costly late in the game when Fresno State seized some momentum, but after incomplete passes or allowing sacks squandered opportunities without attempting a run.

Bryson Sumlin had only two carries for one yard the entire game, even with the injury to Clifton Smith early in the game; Sumlin did not see much time. Roshon Vercher did not play much after the first quarter. Adam Jennings lined up at fullback/H-back for the entire second half, a spot Smith was probably slated to play prior to his injury.

Smith's injury might have hurt Hill's and Cignetti's game plan. His presence was great during Fresno State's second scoring drive, running once and catching a key pass inside the five yard line. After his injury, Fresno State did not miss a beat on its next drive and looked to be fine without him. The Bulldogs racked up 530 yards of total offense, but whether Smith would have improved on those numbers is left for the imagination.

In all Fresno State did not play great on defense and still almost came away with a victory at Oregon. Fresno State has over week to get the defense in order and work out any kinks with the run game before high flying Toledo comes to town. Are Logan Mankins and James Sanders departures bigger than first anticipated? We will soon find out.

Fresno State resembled the great 2001 team led by David Carr on Saturday. That team, like this year's, could score quickly, but in shootouts against Boise State and Hawaii when the offense sputtered, the defense was too tired to preserve the victory.

Fresno State is a better team than what was displayed on Saturday. Toledo's Bruce Gradkowski is a better quarterback than Kellen Clemens, and the Rockets offense is more potent. The Bulldogs have a lot to gain with a big victory over Toledo.

The extra time before the game gives the coaching staff more time to mend the young players’ minds and set up a great game plan for the Rockets. The Fresno State defense can redeem itself, and pick up some much needed momentum on the ESPN 2 telecast September 27.

The upcoming game is going to be Toledo's marquee game of the year, the Rockets are well coached and are just as good, if not a better team than Oregon. Toledo might not have the same athletes as the Ducks, but I would not be surprised if they came into Bulldog Stadium and beat Fresno State by two touchdowns.

The Bulldogs can not give up on the season just yet. There is still so much to play for: an outright WAC title, a much desired win against Boise State, and a little game at USC. First up is Toledo. Fresno State and its fans can not overlook the mighty Rockets.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Oregon Game Highlights

Fresno State vs Oregon 9/17/05 Highlights

courtesy of Paul Blair(aka Toadlife)

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Oregon 37 Fresno State 34

Recap at


Quick notes: Oregon 37 Fresno State 34
  • The passing game was superb, Pinegar's 418 was a career high.
  • The run was not there when needed. Fresno State exposed Oregon's weakness in the secondary, but the 'Dogs never established the run.
  • It seemed Clifton Smith's injury was bigger than many expected. Adam Jennings was used as the H-Back for the entire second half. A spot Smith was probably suppose to occupy for the game.
  • Bryson Sumlin and Roshon Vercher were non- factors. The power running game never got going.
  • Defensive line is in trouble. The second quarter exposed the 'Dogs lack of a pass rush.
  • Lane was a savior in the second half. Adjustments should have been made before halftime to slow down Oregon's hurry up offense.
  • The secondary is not as tough as in years past. The loss of James Sanders was felt this week. Josh Sherley did not make the same impact as he did last week.
  • The Ducks played harder and made the adjustments to win.

Where is the Run Game?

Fresno State received the ball inside the Oregon 45 after the Duck's punt. Fresno State ran three straight pass plays, losing yards on the first, sacked on the second, and had to heave it on 3rd down.

Fresno State has not run the ball well today. The Bulldogs should have just run the ball up the gut, and at least would have had a shot at a field goal.

Thank You Ahijah Lane!

The first and only sack of the game, but very big.

Lane is fast becoming the pass rusher Fresno State needs. Huge sack on Clemens forces Oregon to punt in 4th.

Smith Hurt

Dogs take early 10-0 lead, but Clifton Smith is out for the game, maybe longer, with a sprained knee ligament.

Not So Fast My Friend....

I am convinced Lee Corso does little research on any games that Gameday is not a part of. Corso is calling for a close Oregon win, nothing wrong with that, the Ducks are tough at home. But he said Oregon will be looking ahead to USC. I guess he does not pay attention to Mike Belliotti comments, or the fact Fresno State is pretty good. If Oregon is overlooking Fresno State, the Bulldogs win going away, even Duck fans realize that.

Herbie picks Oregon, too, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Fowler, like in 2001 when he went against both of them and picked Fresno State over Colorado, takes the Bulldogs, again.

Gameday Dogs vs Ducks

It was raining yesterday when Fresno State arrived in Eugene, but it should be clear for kickoff. Fresno State needs to come away with a victory and good showing against Oregon, today. Every other non-BCS school has looked awful this year. No one has yet to step out. TCU did, only to fall flat on their face a week later. UTEP looked hardly the BCS buster in their double overtime win versus Houston. There is not a better chance for Fresno State to steal the media spotlight than this year.

The Bulldogs are ranked 23rd in the nation, and have back to back games against good opponents in Oregon and Toledo. A win in both will solidify Fresno State's ranking, and make games against Boise State and USC more meaningful down the stretch. First, the Bulldogs must get by Oregon.

The Ducks can beat Fresno State easily, if the Bulldogs fail to get the ground game going or start to turn the ball over. Read Fresno Bee beat writer David White's keys to the game and preview.


According to EA Sports NCAA 06, the Dogs and Ducks game will be close.

Paul Pinegar throws three interceptions in the first half and Wendell Mathis is held under 20 yards, but Fresno State still takes a 14-13 lead at the half. Oregon's Kellen Clemens take over early in the third quarter with the pass. The Ducks tack on a field goal and a touchdown with a 2pt conversion for a 24-14 lead.

Fresno State's run game gets on track late in the third, and wears Oregon down in fourth quarter. Mathis and Bryson Sumlin each get touchdowns and as Fresno State pulls out the win, 28-24.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Who is going to win? Will it be blowout? Will it be close? How close is USC watching this game?

Want to sit in the Red Seats for the next home game?

Click Here!!!! Red Seat owners can now sell their tickets via the ticket marketplace, and the average Joe can now buy them. Good idea?

It lets the unfortunate access to the best seats in the house, but will the "blue hairs" like having Joe Bulldog jumping and yelling all game long? May be I am just getting ahead of myself.

Personally, I hate to sit in the red seats. It is dull and uneventful, and if I get up and cheer, there are like ten people asking me to sit down. That is their right, they do pay thousands of dollars to sit there.

It is still nice for Bulldog fans to have that option now, if they want to sit in the Red Seats.