Saturday, December 31, 2005
Recap and Boxscore
Fresno State failed to end it's three game losing streak today in Memphis against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane fought back in the second half overcoming a seven point deficient. The Bulldogs took control of the game in the third quarter. However, Paul Pinegar fell apart in the fourth. After throwing the go ahead score on his first pass of the fourth quarter, he followed it up by throwing bad passes on four straight possessions to end the game. The first two were overthrown on key third downs when Fresno State could have put the game away. The last two were interceptions which ultimately lost the game for Fresno State.
The Bulldogs came out ready to pound the football to start the game. They ran all but two plays on their opening possession, but failed to convert a 4th and short inside the Tulsa 10 yard line. It was a sign of things to come. Fresno State was unable to convert three key third and shorts on ground. It was not until the second play in the fourth quarter that the coaching staff decided to pass instead of run on third and short. The result was Pinegar's only touchdown pass of the game and the lead.
After stopping Tulsa on the ensuing possession, the Bulldog offense had decent field position after the punt. The offense was unable to capitalize as Pinegar made his first truly bad pass as he overthrew a wide open Adam Jennings on 3rd and 8. The Fresno State defense would stop Tulsa cold once again with just under nine minutes to play in the game. On a key 3rd and 6, Pinegar would make his second bad throw of the game. The overthrown pass to Jennings ended another drive that could have put the game out of reach for Tulsa.
The Bulldogs were forced to kick the ball away, but Mike Lingua's punt only traveled 15 yards. It gave the Golden Hurricane excellent field position to get back into the game. Tulsa did not squander this opportunity. Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith hit wide receiver Ashlan Davis with a 55 yard pass to tie the game up at 24. Fresno State would get the ball with about 6 minutes to play, but Pinegar threw his first interception. Tulsa would score the go ahead touchdown with 2:55 to play.
Down 31-24, Pinegar had one last chance to make history, redeem himself and solidify his spot in Bulldog lore. It seemed he would, as he hit wide open receivers to start the final drive. The suddenly hot Pinegar drove the 'Dogs inside the Tulsa 40 yard line. Looking to dump off the ball to Matt Rivera to avoid a sack, he threw the ball directly into the hands of a Tulsa defender.
Tulsa would run out the last two minutes of the game and come away with a well deserved win. Fresno State now has its first four game losing streak since 1984. Pat Hill didn't even lose four in a row his first year with only about 60 scholarship players back in 1997. The 2005 team was his best ever, and they ended the season with four straight defeats.
Will Hill make some changes to his coaching philosophy? Probably not, he is as stubborn as an old mule. To fire him would be the dumbest thing the university could do, so then what? One more year will give him 10 seasons as head coach, and a good barometer to rate his success. There has only been one Western Athletic Conference title, but there have been other numerous accomplishments that can't be put on a trophy.
Fresno State football will live and die by Pat Hill. If he leaves his replacement will have some big shoes to fill. If he is fired, it only puts a black eye on an already troubled athletic department. Hill is a very respected coach and has built a good program at very unrespected school from a laughing stock of a conference.
It sucks to lose four straight, but its not like the Bulldogs finished the season 4-7. The 2006 season is just around the corner.
No need to jump on the fire Pat Hill bandwagon, but coach does need to make some changes.
I am too upset to write anything else. Tulsa wanted it more, and it showed down the stretch. Fresno State took over in the second half, similiar to what they did at Nevada, but lacked the intensity, again, too finish the job to get the victory.
Third straight serious with a bad throw. This time it is intercepted. The defense gave Paul another chance, and he screwed it up. The defense has to step it up, once again.
Fourth straight drive with a bad throw by Pinegar, another int that just might end the game.
The offense needs to finish this game off with another long drive for a touchdown. This game has been way too close, considering the 'Dogs have dominated the clock.
As soon as I talk up Pinegar, he overthrows a wide open Adam Jennings on a key 3rd and 8. A bad punt gives Tulsa decent field position and a chance to get back in this game. The defense is doing their part in the second after making mistakes in the second quarter, but the offense can't finish it off.
The big difference today is that the defense and special teams are making plays, but the offense has not been very effective on capitalizing on those plays. But for once it can't be blamed on Paul Pinegar. The run game has been stood up three times on third and short and once on fourth and short from inside the Tulsa 10 yard line. Fresno State has taken over the game to start the final quarter, but the lineman need to win the battle of the line of scrimmage on short yardage situations.
Maybe, Cignetti should call a play action pass on the next third and short. Well, on the second play in the fourth quarter, Fresno State faced a third and one from the Tulsa 21 yard line. The play call by Cignetti? A pass and the result is a touchdown. This game should be a 38-17 rout, but is still too close on the scoreboard at 24-17.
One more defensive stop and this game could be over if Fresno State adds one more touchdown. How ironic, Paul Pinegar is having another great bowl game. This game is being won on the arm of Pinegar. The ground game has fallen short on many short yardage situations, but Paul runs for a first down on a key fourth down and throws the go ahead score on the most crucial third and one of the game.
The defense got the stop lets see what the offense does?
Kickoff: 1 p.m. (et)
Site: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (62,000) -- Memphis, Tennessee
Projected Payout Per Team: $1,500,000
Announcers: Gary Bender and Bill Curry
Home Record: Fresno State 5-1; Tulsa 3-2
Away Record: Fresno State 3-3; Tulsa 4-2
Neutral Record: Fresno State 0-0; Tulsa 1-0
Las Vegas Line: Fresno State 7 (Total, 61 1/2)
All-Time Series: Fresno State (4-0)
Last Meeting: November 9, 2002 (Fresno State, 31-12 at Fresno State)
Series Streak: Fresno State has won all four meetings.
Bowl Records: Fresno State (11-8) Tulsa (4-8)
Versus Opposing Conference: Fresno State vs. Conference USA (24-4-1)
Versus Opposing Conference: Tulsa vs. WAC (26-31)
2005 National Rankings: Fresno State - 29th Tulsa - 34th
Coaches: Fresno State - Pat Hill (72-42 at Fresno State) (Career Record, Same as above)
Tulsa - Steve Kragthorpe (20-17 at Tulsa) (Career Record, Same as above)
The wait is finally over. The anticipation might not have been as high as last year's MPC Computers Bowl versus Virginia, but the Liberty Bowl is far more prestigious. Of all of this year's bowl game's, the Liberty is the only one played on an early Saturday afternoon broadcasted on ESPN HD. Even with a lackluster matchup against Conference USA Champion Tulsa, the Bulldogs have a lot to prove and gain today. We will see just how many people across the country really love to watch the Bulldogs despite their three game losing streak.
A big win will be a huge spring board to next season. After today the Bulldogs will not tackle another opponent until next September. A win will give the Fresno State seniors four bowl wins. A feat no other senior class in Fresno State history has ever accomplished. A side note to that is Paul Pinegar's chance to become the first quarterback in NCAA history to win four consecutive bowl games as a starter.
If that is not motivation enough, Fresno State has not lost four straight games since 1984. If Pat Hill does not have his team ready to play today, than there could be a serious problem in Bulldog Land.
Fresno State - Cornerback Marcus McCauley (illness) and defensive tackle Louis Leonard (illness) are probable for the Liberty Bowl against Tulsa. Safeties Awan Diles (knee) and Vincent Mays (toe), linebacker Ahijah Lane (ankle) and running back Dwayne Wright (knee) are questionable for the Liberty Bowl. Fullback Roshon Vercher (knee) is doubtful for the Liberty Bowl. Place kicker Clint Stitser (hip) is expected to miss the Liberty Bowl.
Tulsa- no injuries to report.
NCAA 06 PREDICTION
According to Sony Playstation's NCAA 2006 Fresno State is unliked by the CPU today. After taking an early 13-0 lead to start the second quarter, the Bulldogs quickley fall apart. Tulsa would close the gap at the half, 13-10, then the rout began.
The Golden Hurricane would score the first 21 points of the second half for a commanding 31-13 lead in the 4th. Fresno State mounted a comeback behind Paul Pinegar's 393 yards passing but fell short 45-26 in the end.
I hope this is not an indication of what may happen today. I doubt it, but the CPU only predicted one other loss for Fresno State this year, at USC.
Friday, December 30, 2005
as posted on the Barkboard
The Boise State win is long gone. The ESPN Instant Classic against USC is still a loss, no matter how you look at it. Back to back losses at Nevada and at home versus Louisiana Tech are still very fresh in the minds of Bulldog fans. Now Fresno State must play in a bowl game against former Western Athletic Conference pasty but 2005 Conference USA champion, Tulsa. It is not just any bowl game, but the historic Liberty Bowl from Memphis on New Year’s Eve. What Bulldog team will show up, the one that took USC to the wire at the Coliseum or the one that was embarrassed at home by Louisiana Tech?
The Fresno State seniors have never lost a bowl game, and Paul Pinegar could be the first starting quarterback in NCAA history to win four consecutive bowl games. Will that be motivation enough to beat Tulsa? Hardly, the Bulldogs must dig deeper. Losing at Nevada could be forgiven considering the heartbreak the week before against USC, but the Louisiana Tech loss was utterly disappointing. Fresno State must redeem themselves and their coach, Pat Hill. Hill has stated that he takes full blame for his team’s lackluster performances.
Tulsa is not the same team that was kick around by the Bulldogs four straight years from 1999-2002 in the WAC. Coach Steve Kragthorpe became the head coach in 2003 and has never faced Fresno State. In his first year at Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane went 8-4 (6-2) in the WAC and nearly pushed the Bulldogs out of the Silicon Valley Classic. The WAC guarantees its top two teams bowl games. Fresno State and Tulsa had the same conference records in 2003, but Tulsa had the tiebreaker. Luckily for the Bulldogs, WAC champ Boise State accepted a bid to the Fort Worth Bowl which opened up the then Humanitarian Bowl for Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane fell to 4-7 last year, but has rebounded nicely in its first year in Conference USA. Tulsa backed into the conference championship after league favorite UTEP lost back to back games to end the season. They made the most of their opportunity by tearing apart a decent Central Florida team on the Golden Knights home field. Tulsa is a very hot team, while Fresno State is not. The Bulldogs are still more than a touchdown favorite, but some prognosticators are predicting a Tulsa win.
Tulsa is led by sophomore quarterback Paul Smith. Smith is not going to beat teams himself, but is an effective leader of the offense and makes few mistakes. His main target is All-American tight end Garrett Mills. Mills is one player that can take control of a game. There is not a better pass catching tight end in the country, and his ability rivals that of former Virginia Cavalier tight end Heath Miller. Kragthorpe just needs to pop in a tape of last year’s MPC Computers Bowl to see how to attack the Bulldog defense with the tight end.
The Golden Hurricane runs a balance two-tight end attack. Smith has thrown 19 touchdowns against just six picks. The running game is done by committee, with Uril Parrish leading the way with over 700 yards rushing. Fresno State’s run defense has been less than spectacular since the Boise State game. Giving up 294 yards to Reggie Bush is acceptable, per se, but letting Nevada’s backup rack up over a 100 yards and 4 tds is unacceptable. Louisiana Tech was able to run against a once great Bulldog run defense, as well. Tulsa’s backs are just as good as Louisiana Tech’s, and their offensive line is just as big, led by first team all-CUSA stud, Jesse Stoneham.
The Tulsa offense will center on Mills. If Fresno State can contain him it would be huge. There is not another receiver on Tulsa’s roster that has over 400 yards receiving. Senior Ashlan Davis is the second leading receiver, but is more of a threat as a kick returner. On the other hand, both of Tulsa’s leading rushers are tied for third on the team in receptions. There are few game breakers on this Golden Hurricane team, but their scheme is diverse enough to give the Bulldog defense fits.
Defensively, Tulsa uses a 3-3-5. Fresno State has not faced this type of defense this year, and Tulsa did not implement this defense until 2003, when Kragthorpe became head coach. It has been very effective against the pass, but it is vulnerable against the run. Great running teams have had tremendous success against the Golden Hurricane defense this year. Minnesota’s Laurence Maroney had a field day against them on opening day, and Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson had his best game of the season against Tulsa. Fresno State’s running game is more than capable of running the ball down the throat of the Tulsa defense.
Special teams could be a difference maker. Fresno State has had some of the best in the nation, but they have been far from great the last couple of games. Tulsa’s Davis set an NCAA record last year with 5 returns for touchdowns, including a streak with one in four straight games. Davis has only one return for a touchdown this year, but still was named first team all-CUSA as a kick returner. Fresno State’s Adam Jennings is no slouch, either. He has yet to take back a kick or punt for a touchdown this year, but was also named first team all-conference as a kick returner. Bulldog kicker Kyle Zimmerman is adequate but lacks the leg strength to kick anything beyond 40 yards. Tulsa’s kicker, Brad DeVault has the upper hand if the game comes down to a field goal.
Kragthorpe has turned around the Tulsa program, and has them in a bowl game for the second time in three years. A win over Fresno State would be considered a huge victory for the program, maybe even bigger than the CUSA championship win over UCF. Fresno State meanwhile is expected to win and a loss will be not be easily forgiven. Hill has to coach his best game because Kragthorpe will have his team ready. Some think Kragthorpe is the hottest coach on the market from a non-BCS school. A big win over Hill and his Bulldogs will substantiate that.
The game will come down to what the Bulldogs do on offense. The loss of fullback Roshon Vercher hurts the running game, but the Bulldogs should still be able to control the line of scrimmage. If the coaching staff decides to lead with the pass, and abandon the run, it could prove to be ineffective. When Fresno State has run for less than 150 yards, they have lost. Pinegar is still capable of winning this game with his arm, but the Bulldogs are beaten up physically and mentally.
Tulsa is far more excited and motivated to play in the Liberty Bowl. If the Bulldogs can right the ship and return to the level of play that almost beat USC, Tulsa has no shot at a win. However, there is no guarantee that the Bulldogs will be ready to play this game and may face the same fate they did against Louisiana Tech. If it is the former then it will be an easy Bulldog win. If it’s the latter, then the Bulldogs could struggle and get embarrassed by the Golden Hurricane. I expect Fresno State to come out ready to play, but would not be surprised by a Tulsa win, either. My fearless prediction is, Fresno State 41, Tulsa 27.
One would think the Bulldogs would have the overwhelming advantage in this category. However, their special teams have been far from special late in the season. The coverage teams are still strong, but are not as dominant as they were earlier in the season. Adam Jennings is always threat in the return game, but kicker Kyle Zimmerman can not be expected to win the game if needed.
Tulsa counters with some decent special teams playmakers, too. Kick returner Ashlan Davis was a first team preseason all-American by numerous publications. He has returned one kick for a touchdown, but pales in comparison to the NCAA record 5 he had last year. Golden Hurricane senior kicker Brad DeVault is automatic beyond 40 yards, he is 6 for 6.
Coaching and Intangibles
Will Pat Hill have his Bulldogs ready? One thing is for sure Steve Kragthorpe will have Tulsa ready. Tulsa is far more motivated to play in this game. The Conference USA champion Golden Hurricane is on a roll, having won 6 of their last 7, while Fresno State is on a 3 game losing skid.
Tulsa fans seemed to be a bit more excited about their team's bowl bid than Bulldog fans. The Tulsa ticket office has sold over 10,000 tickets for the game. Fresno State has sold just over 1,000. None of this should matter come kickoff if the Bulldogs are motivated and ready to play.
Linebackers at one point in the season were a strong point for Fresno State. An injury to stud OLB Marcus Riley has hurt the Bulldogs more than anyone could have imagined. His replacement Emanuel Sanchez has not been able to keep up the pace on the outside. Sanchez was mainly used on passing downs and his run defense is for the lack of a better word, terrible. However, speedy sophomore Ahijah Lane is finally healthy and true freshman Quaadir Brown has emerged as more than a special teams player. Dewayne Andrews continues to be a solid force in the middle, and Alan Goodwin does a decent job at the other outside spot.
The strength of Tulsa's defense is their linebackers. Junior Nick Bunting and Sophomore Nelson Coleman were named all-conference. Bunting was on the preseason Butkas and Bednarik Award watch lists, but has somewhat underachieved this year. The OLB still ranks third on the team with 77 tackles. Coleman is a monster in the middle. The 6-2 235 lb MLB leads the Golden Hurricane with 103 tackles. Sophomore Chris Chamberlain is the other OLB and is tied with Bunting with 77 tackles on the year. Between the three starters they have a combined 73 starts in their career.
Fresno State has one of the best secondaries in the country. Despite losing SS James Sanders a year early to the NFL, the Bulldog defensive backs have not missed a beat. Sanders replacement Josh Sherley is an aggressive hitter, but makes too many mistakes. Richard Marshall and Marcus McCauley are one of best CB duos in the country. Marshall receives a boatload of national attention, but his counterpart, McCauley is an aggressive corner that deserves more hype. FS Tyrone Culver is the only senior of the bunch, and is a playmaker.
Tulsa had to replace three starters this year, but have improved their pass defense dramatically this year. The Golden Hurricane ranks 16th in the nation in pass defense. They use 5 DBs, and Bobby Blackshire is the biggest and strongest of the bunch. The 6-3 205 lb Bandit Safety was named first team all-conference, and is second on the team with 92 tackles. Starting at the SPUR is sophomore Anthony Germany. He leads the team with 13.5 tackles for losses. Bobby Klinck is an Oklahoma transfer and former prep all-star, but has been from stellar this year at FS. The corners are better than average. Junior Nick Graham has 5 ints on the year and was named 2nd team all-conference. The other corner is JC transfer Julian McGowan. McGowan is bigger than Graham and will more than likely draw the tough assignment of covering Paul Williams. Freshman Roy Roberts is a player to watch off the bench. The backup CB was named to the CUSA all-freshman team.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Tulsa has been very vulnerable against the run. Minnesota's Laurence Maroney and Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson both shredded the Golden Hurricane defense early in the season. Memphis all-American tailback DeAngelo Williams had equal success against their three man defensive front. All three backs had over 200 yards rushing and Fresno State's Wendell Mathis and Bryson Sumlin are the best running backs Tulsa has seen since those three mentioned above. The Bulldogs have had good success against three man fronts and Tulsa's three man front is not great.
The Golden Hurricane defensive front starts in the middle with 6-4 325 lb freshman nose guard Terrell Nemons. Undersized 6-0 250 lb senior Brandon Lohr is the their best defensive lineman and creates havoc coming off the end. The other end is sophomore Chadd Evans, who has good size at 6-4 250 lbs. The linebackers do a decent job of filling the gaps, but Tulsa will need great run support from their secondary against the Bulldogs.
On the flip side, Tulsa has a very good offensive line and their battle with the Bulldog defensive front four will be a key to the game. First team all-CUSA guard Jesse Stoneham is Tulsa's best lineman. The 6-4 315 lb Stoneham teams with 6-7 329 lb tackle Jeff Perrett to form a massive right side of the line. In all Tulsa averages 6-5 303 lbs across the offensive front. Throw in the two tight ends that line up almost every series, and Garrett McIntyre and company will have their hands full Saturday. Bulldog tackles Louis Leonard and Jason Shirley have had over a month to get healthy and end Tyler Clutts has emerged as another effective pass rusher.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Backfield - Tulsa runs the ball at you many different ways. Uril Parrish is their most accomplished running back this season as he has gained over 700 total yards with an average of 4.3 yards per carry. Obviously those are not the explosive type numbers that Fresno State has become accustomed to in their last three games, but it seems that Fresno State does a great job of making running backs look far better than they truly are (aside Reggie Bush). If Tulsa wants to run the ball and they spread it out diagonally Fresno will be vulnerable. Fresno has shown the entire year that they cannot stop running backs that can break outside. While the Dogs are usually very strong between the tackles, they are weak outside. However, while Fresno may be sub par at stopping the run, Tulsa is far weaker than the Dogs are in this department. Oklahoma beat Tulsa earlier this season in a game where their qb only threw for 42 yards. In that same game Oklahoma racked up over 250 yards rushing controlling the clock to win the game. Minnesota did the very same thing against Tulsa as did Memphis. With the speed Wendell Mathis possesses the Bulldogs will try to run the ball early and often. The key here is the use of Bryson Sumlin. If Cignetti finally decides to use Sumlin as a fullback the Dogs will run over Tulsa's defensive line. Without Vercher the Bulldogs do not have a great blocking fullback and Sumlin has the size and ability to block and run the ball at times during the game. Once again the advantage here has to go to Fresno State.
Receivers - Tulsa can be summed up in one name - Garrett Mills. He may be a Tight End but the fact is he is one of the best pass catching Tight Ends in the nation. With 83 receptions for 1183 yards this season Garrett Mills has to be looked as the single biggest threat against Fresno State. Unfortunately Fresno State does not have a defender who matches up well with Mills. Since Riley went down for the season Fresno State will have to rely on LB's that do not play as fast and physical as Riley had in the past. Sanchez is not the best of tacklers and sometimes needs to be in the right place at the right time to make the tackle. Just as Virginia threw to Heath Miller last year constantly, look for Tulsa to do the very same this year with respect to Mills. However, do not look for the receivers on the corners to gain much yardage. With Marshall and McCauley on the outside the Dogs are as good at the corner position as anyone in the nation. Fresno State's receiving game has progressed this year in a great way. Paul Williams has finally stepped up as one of the two go to guys on the offense. Both Williams and Fernandez have made great plays for the offense the entire season. At the same time both Jennings and Jamison are also threats at the receiver position. Jamison has great hands and Jennings is one of the fastest receivers in the nation. Occasionally, McDonald will be used in the Tight End spot as will Bear Pascoe when the dogs need a short yardage gain or something short over the middle. Overall Fresno State has the edge with respect to receivers, but Tulsa has the better receiving Tight End.
Special Teams/Situational Players - Fresno State will use Matt Rivera out of the backfield in third down situations as he is one of the better pass catching running backs in the Fresno State system. Adam Jennings is one of the better kick returners in the nation and Tulsa will have to decide if they are going to let Jennings work his magic on kickoffs. Tulsa does have one glaring advantage that may be a huge part of this game. Their filed goal kicker Brad Devault hit 16 of 18 field goals going 6 for 6 from 40 yards or more. Fresno State's kicker Zimmerman is questionable on anything longer than 35 yards. If this game gets into a field goal war expect Tulsa to come out on top. Overall Fresno State's special teams are obviously the better of the two, but the kicking game is going to belong to Tulsa.
To predict this game is hard because we don't know what Fresno State team will show up to play. Will it be the team that would have been ranked in the top 10 if they hadn't lost their last two games of the season, or are we going to see that team that did blow their last two games of the year spiraling into a three game losing streak and dropping out of the top 25 altogether? Tulsa will be up for this game and they are playing a team that is looked at as a much more accomplished football program. With that being said Fresno State will be ready to end their losing streak and will come out fired up to play in this final game of the season. The running game should be too much for Tulsa to handle as I look for the Dogs offensive line to control Tulsa's defensive line. Fresno State should control the time of possession and Pinegar does not have to play outstanding for the Bulldogs to win this game.
Fresno State - 34
Tulsa - 20
thanks to Neil for contributing to the FS FB Blog
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Tulsa uses a two tight end offense and Mills is the cornerstone of their successful scheme. Mills set an NCAA record for receiving yards for a TE this year and was a two-time all-WAC TE in 2003-04. Fresno State does not have an answer for Mills with their current scheme. Last year, Virginia TE Heath Miller had a field day against the Bulldogs in the MPC Computers Bowl. Mills is as talented as Miller, but a better receiver. Aiding the cause is the Bulldogs' injuries at the linebacking unit. Their best LB Marcus Riley is out and backup LB Ahijah Lane has not played at 100% since October. Current starter Emanuel Sanchez' lack of speed and poor run tackling has been exposed by USC, Nevada and Louisiana Tech. Besides Mills, the Golden Hurricane lack any real playmakers. Davis is the second leading receiver, but is more of a threat as a kick returner, where he has returned 6 kicks for touchdowns in his two years at Tulsa. The run game is done by committee, but Uril Parrish has emerged as the best of the bunch.
Vercher's absence might hurt Fresno State more than many think. Paul Pinegar can win this game with his arm and his receivers, if the run game falters. Tulsa's scheme is perfect for exploiting the weakness of the Bulldog defense, but if Mills can be contained, game over. Fresno State's offensive skill position talent is too great to overlook.
Monday, December 26, 2005
It is the battle of the Pauls. Fresno State senior Paul Pinegar versus Tulsa sophomore Paul Smith. Each one is capable of taking control of the game and pulling out the win. Bulldog fans had a hard-on for Pinegar after his career performance at Oregon in a near win for the' Dogs back in September. However, Bulldog fans have been just as quick to throw the senior under the bus after his turnover fests at USC and against Louisiana Tech. Smith played sparingly as a true freshman in 2003 and redshirted last year during the Golden Hurricane's 4-7 year. He has calmly taken over for James Killian and led Tulsa to their first Conference USA title in 2005.
Pinegar would probably love nothing more than to win this game with his arm to show the Bulldog faithful he is not lacking talent. It won't happen. First, Pinegar is a team player. He has battled numerous injuries, dealt with unheard of fan hatred as a Bulldog starting quarterback and still became the best statistical quarterback in Fresno State history. Pinegar will probably not have to shine in his last game if Pat Hill sticks with a pounding ground game. But without fullback Roshon Vercher, the game could come down to how well Pinegar performs. It should be interesting to see if Hill and offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti let Pinegar air it out one last time.
Smith, on the other hand, does not have so much pressure. Sure the Fresno State defense is the best he will have seen since Oklahoma, but he has the best safety net in all of college football, tight end Garrett Mills. To top it off, the vaunted Bulldog defense has hit rock bottom since about midway through the second quarter at the Coliseum. Smith could have a field day with the right game plan.
Paul Pinegar 12 149.73 386-246-13 63.7 3122 29 98 260.2
Smith, Paul 12 142.19 337-209-6 62.0 2613 19 66 217.8
Friday, December 23, 2005
Bubba says, "Don't Fire Hill. I have no spot for him at City Hall."
Now come on, if you are going to be so bold provide some substantial analysis. For those you have not heard, seen or have had the pleasure of reading firepathill.net, you are not missing much. Whoever started this site has some balls but lacks any details on why Fresno State should fire Pat Hill.
Hill has let down many Bulldog fans every year since 2001, but look at the intangibles the boy brings to the table. Personally, I do not have a problem with any fan wanting to fire Pat Hill, but just give me a good reason. My take:
I do not think Hill is the best gameday coach. In fact, I think he is one of the worst in college football. Yet, somehow his teams always tend to win at least 8-9 wins every year.
I think Hill does rely too much on emotion, but that is not such a bad thing. As long as there are some strong assistants around to help take control of this team. Not too mention a vocal team leader that is head strong.
This is why I think Hill just needs to make some changes to his coaching philosophy and replace a good part of his staff. Last year during the 3 game skid Jim Sweeney came aboard as a consultant, and all of a sudden the 'Dogs started winning. Did Sweeney make the difference? Who knows? But some change or new blood never hurts.
Now back to the mutherfucker who wants to fire Pat Hill. Who in the fuck is going to come into Fresno and bring the same national appeal?
Norm Chow? Chow would be a nice hire, but forget about playing the Big Boyz. Chow has never been a head coach, and I doubt he has the guts Hill has to play brutal schedules and expect to win. Chow would certainly dumb down the schedule and put a couple of safe 9-10 wins seasons under his belt. The offense would put of some yards and points but Chow could gone to the Pac 10 or BYU by his third or fourth year.
Al Borges? Bob Toledo's former main man has done wonders on The Plains but look how Auburn schedules out of conference. No doubt he takes the same measures as a head coach. Fresno would just be a layover anyways, until UCLA/Pac 10 school is ready to hire him.
Rick Neuheisal? Like this University needs anymore negative publicity. Neuheisal could never get the athletes he needs to be successful. He would be gone after one winning season to a high profile program.
Dennis Erickson? Sweeney's former assistant would keep the winning going and could take this program to the next level. But, you could forget about the Academic Gameplan and integrity within the program. Erickson would bring plenty of JUCOS and borderline players to win and really create the renegade program so many around the country already have the impression Fresno State is.
Who? Nobody! That's right, there is not one coach that could come in and take over for Hill and continue what he has started, and maintain the same level of national prestige and integrity.
Sure there are plenty of young enticing candidates that in time could have good program, but few if any will take on the demands Hill expects from his players and program.
I only have one problem with Hill and that is he just needs to stop talking. Just Shut Up and Coach for Pete's sake! Quit the BCS talk, the poker analogies, and just play some freakin football.
Last year Boise State, Fresno State, Louisville, and Utah were all considered BCS Busters in September. Pat Hill was the only coach of the four that was vocal about playing in the BCS, and his school was the first to lose. The other three went a combined 32-1 in the regular season, the only loss was by Louisville, 41-38, at #3 Miami. Utah, ultimately, got the job done and won its BCS bowl. I am sure Hill had a hard time swallowing that. Urban Meyer in just his second year at Utah, and only his fourth year as a head coach in I-A, did what Hill could not do in eight years. How did Meyer get the girl(BCS Bowl)?
Well, think of Hill as the vocal jock who is always talking shit and always ready to beat the shit out of you. Think of Dan Hawkins as the geeky nerd always on his computer trying to figure out ways of trying not to get into fights. Think of Bobby Petrino as the hotshot prep always thinking of himself. Finally, there is the quiet one with the Catholic name, Urban.
Hawkins is too busy avoiding confrontations and will never get the girl. Petrino is too busy looking in the mirror and worrying about his image but misses out on the girl. Hill is too busy beating the shit out people and loses his many chances to get the girl. During all this, Urban just quietly takes care of business and wins the girl. Then he gets the fuck out of Dodge, to a place(Florida) where he does not have to worry about this game anymore.
Only Hill remains, of these four, at a non-BCS school. As long as he has to play the game, he will continue to beat the shit out of people, but maybe he should take a step back, so maybe just once he could win the girl.
I don't know about you guys but I rather take the bully jock over the geeky nerd, the pretty boy prep or the quiet kid. The nerd, the prep or the quiet kid will never learn to be tough, but the bully will eventually learn to control his emotion.
But......Fresno State must beat Tulsa. If the Bulldogs lose or worse yet get blown out, then there could be some serious problems within the program that will need to be addressed. If that happens and FS gets rolled by the Golden Hurricane then that fucked up firepathill.net will be permanent link on the FS Blog until Hill comes forward about his coaching philosophy and vows to make some changes.
Fresno State has not lost four games in a row since the 'Dogs lost their last five back in 1984, Hill's first year as an assistant. With a possible game at top 10 Virginia Tech, top 15 Oregon at home, and a game at Washington Fresno State could very well start next year 0-3. This program has not lost seven games in row since 1972-73 and that was the only time that it has happened since the Bulldogs went Division 1 back in 1969.
Don't fire the guy, worse comes to worse, force him to make changes. That's what poor old Phil Fulmer is doing at Tennessee. Many fans are just on Pat Hill's nuts, and will disagree on some of my thoughts, but I don't give a fuck. If the 'Dogs lose to Tulsa, go 7-5 next year and finish beneath first in the WAC again, it is time for some change. Hill would have had ten years to get his dream off the ground and records of 11-3, 9-5, 9-5, 9-3, 8-5, and 7-5 is a downward curve. Thomas Boeh will have to step in, and force Hill to make some changes, otherwise..............look I am getting ahead of myself here. Just please beat Tulsa, I would hate to end the first year of the Blog with a loss to the freakin Golden Hurricane.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
This year on the other hand the team is going to the historic Liberty Bowl but the opponent, Tulsa, is far from enticing. Bulldog fans we are pretty fickle. If the opponent does not get us hard then we really don't even care about the bowl. Well that has been the attitude ever since 2001. It doesn't help that the Bulldogs have lost three straight, but that is over and done with. Beat Tulsa and 9-4 is lot better than 8-5. Starting 2006 on a one game winning streak is better than starting with a four game losing skid.
The Liberty Bowl is just over a week away and its about time to start breaking down this bad boy. Tulsa has one awesome player to watch and that is tight end Garrett Mills. Kick returner Ashlan Davis is no slouch either. Neil will guest blog next week with a break down of Tulsa. Anyone else who would like to contribute drop me a line. Otherwise keep reading.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Hill stated when he was lobbying for the job at Fresno State in the fall of 1996 that it had always been his dream job. Why would a program from the WAC, in the middle of California, under the shadows of USC and UCLA be such a dream? Maybe because Hill saw huge untapped potential his former mentor, Jim Sweeney, ignored?
In Hill's six years as an assistant coach at Fresno State (1984-1989) the Bulldogs were a very dominant team. Only the '84 team did not have a winning record, but at least went 6-6, including a 27-22 win at Arizona, who finished 7-4. The 1987 team took on the most ambitious schedule ever in school history, with road games at UCLA and Washington State, and still finished 6-5, despite losing many senior starters from the year before. Yet, Sweeney never took the program to the next level in those 6 years. It was not until the 1992 and 1993 seasons did Sweeney get the Bulldogs into the big-time with back-to-back bowl games against USC and Colorado. Sweeney was heavily aided in his cause by the University's new WAC affiliation.
So why didn't the program get more respect in the 1980's? That can be easily answered, TV. ESPN was still in its infant years and the Boys at ABC and CBS carried all the big games. There was no way in hell little ol' Fresno State was going to get any airtime. There had been only one game in the 1980's that was on ABC regional television, and that was against nationally ranked San Jose State in 1981. How could Fresno State get more airtime? Improve the product. Beating up on fellow PCAA teams and former Pac 10 doormat Oregon State does not make news east of the Rockies.
Sweeney was open to playing the Big Boys but not at the expense of a "body bag" game. He had an advantage that most other PCAA schools didn't have, the Bulldog Foundation. Sweeney could turn down any game if didn't like the deal and the athletic department would not be at a loss. Unlike a Long Beach State, who needed to play at least two to three "money" road games just to keep the budget out of the red. Sweeney was content dominating the PCAA, which became the Big West in 1988. However, when his teams played a team with excellent speed on offense or any option attack his defense would get crushed. Sweeney was an offensive genius but his defenses were far from spectacular. The 3-4 defensive schemes could mask most weakness, but not the defense's lack of speed.
So if you were a visionary like assistant coach Pat Hill what would you be thinking about around 1986? It would have been the start of his third year and the Bulldogs just came off of the most successful season in school history. He is an assistant/recruiting coordinator for a budding program in the heart of one the richest recruiting areas in the country. Maybe some of his thoughts were like kind of like this:
USC's 1986 offense had a starting FB from Kingsburg, a starting TE from Clovis West, a starting WR from Edison, and that is not including their best player SS Tim McDonald from Edison.
Florida State in just ten years went from an unknown state school in Florida to becoming a perennial top 25 bowl team by playing anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Miami has achieved elite status by playing a tough brand of pro-style of football. No gimmicks, no tricks just straight up smash mouth football. Their defense also has more speed than most offenses; no way in hell an option team is going to turn the corner on them.
To break it down in layman's terms:
1. Recruit the Valley and focus on high school players
2. Play Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
3. Increase team speed, especially on defense
If Jim Sweeney would have implemented these concepts Fresno State would have been a lot more successful then it was from 1985 through 1996.
Hill bolted in 1989 for Arizona soon after Fresno State capped another successful but unfulfilling 11-1 conference championship season. Fresno State was 10-0 and ranked #23 at one point and the focus of an ESPN Gameday feature the day it was to conclude its season at 1-10 New Mexico. After the 45-22 drubbing at the hands of the Lobos, no one in the nation gave a shit about the Big West champion Bulldogs, despite their gaudy 10-1 regular season record. Even though they beat MAC champs Ball State 27-6 to win the Cal Raison Bowl and finish 11-1, neither the writers nor the coaches voted FS back into the top 25. What did this say about college football? No one cares about a lesser conference champ.
In the 80's it didn't matter too much about conference affiliation when it came time for bowl invitations. Filling the seats and turning on the TVs was all that mattered. Only a handful of spots were tied-in for conference champs, and almost anyone with the right schedule could be in contention for a national title. BYU won one in 1984 after finishing the season as the only unbeaten, and Air Force was very close in 1985 finishing ranked #5 in the coaches’ poll with just one loss late in the season to BYU. Add two more layman's terms to the list:
4. big wins get more respect than a lesser conference title
5. Running the table even gives the little guy a shot at the national title
fast forward to 1997 and Hill has implemented all five of these layman's terms into his program among others and has parlayed it into unparallel national exposure for the Fresno State football program. Remember, there was no BCS in1997, but there was the similar bowl alliance.
There has only been one conference title, which only fans from the Valley really care about, right? There have been numerous national TV appearances and seven straight bowl games. But there has been only one top 25 finish, and this year marks the program's first "middle-tier" bowl and the opponent is far from stellar.
Does Hill's vision belong back in college football of the 1980's? Or does Hill just need more time to fulfill his vision? Hill has yet to accomplish the many tangible goals, but you can not argue about all the intangibles the program has garnered in his nine years. No non-BCS team is going to win a national championship under the current format. The system will not change at least until the new FOX TV deal is up at the end of the decade. Until then.....
What is important to a program's success, the tangibles or intangibles?
That is the $64,000 question.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Since Pat Hill has been head coach at Fresno State his calling card has been playing the best schedule possible. In the past years the schedules have been dotted with many Bowl Championship Series schools but few finished the year in the top 25. 2003 and this year's schedule were the exceptions. Both of those schedules the Bulldogs played two legit top 10 teams, Tennessee and Oklahoma in '03 and Oregon and USC this year.
Hill and former inept Athletic Director Scott Johnson were never able to get a BCS team to come to Bulldog Stadium besides those that were already committed to prior to Hill's arrival in 1997. Of the upcoming non-conference games very few have that big-time feel like a Tennessee, Oklahoma or USC. Oregon should be a preseason top 15 team when they play at Bulldog Stadium next year, but that is only marquee game. There is still one spot left on next year's schedule.
It could be filled with a game against a team from the ACC or SEC, most likely on the road Labor Day Weekend. There is the possibility of a second game against Hawaii in Japan. What may make matters worse is the likelihood of Colorado State backing out of their game in Fresno and leaving the Bulldogs with two hard to fill spots. If CSU ends up of dropping out of their commitment for the second time in three years, then I expect Hill to schedule a big-time road game against a BCS team if given the opportunity. Then the other open spot probably will be filled with a game against a I-AA school. Ideally, a warm up game at home against a middle-tier BCS school prior to Oregon would be great, but that is dreaming.
The best case scenario depends on your mentality as a fan. If your mentality is to play the best teams possible then your best case 2006 schedule could look like this:
Sept. 2 at LSU/Georgia/Virginia Tech
Sept. 9 Oregon
Sept. 16 at Washington
Sept. 23 open
Sept. 30 Colorado State
Oct.-Nov. WAC Schedule
If your mentality is to go unbeaten and have the best chance at a BCS game then your best case 2006 schedule could look like this:
Sept. 2 open/IAA team
Sept. 9 Oregon
Sept. 16 at Washington
Sept. 23 open/IAA team
Sept. 30 Colorado State
Oct.-Nov. WAC Schedule
If Colorado State does back out then it could really screw things up and the likelihood of playing Hawaii in Japan may only happen if the game is played in late August or early December. Personally, I was against scheduling a big-time BCS school at first but this philosophy is Hill's mantra and he can't change that. After taking USC to the wire, it seems the Trojans no longer desire a rematch with the Bulldogs anytime soon. Many other schools might follow USC's lead, so play them while you can.
Pat Hill's philosophy might need some other changes but as long as teams like LSU, Georgia or Virginia Tech will play Fresno State he can not back away from these type of games. Hill and the Bulldogs need to win them and not just make it close. Otherwise, teams will be scared to schedule the Bulldogs, just like USC and former Fresno State alum Jeff Tedford at Cal. These respective school's coaches know their alumni will no easily forgive a loss to Fresno State no matter how good the Bulldogs are.
Hill needs to forget dreaming about playing USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford or anyone else in the Pac 10 other than those schools in the Northwest. Hill needs to beat the schools that are not afraid to play the Bulldogs like LSU, Tennessee, or Georgia. It is real sad that schools and fans(including Fresno fans) on the Left Coast give Fresno State less respect than those east of the Mississippi.
Are those fans showing less respect out of ignorance or because Fresno State never seems to finish off a successful season?
2006 will be Hill's tenth year, and maybe his last to make a real big splash nationally if LSU, Georgia, Virginia Tech or another ACC or SEC team signs on to play Fresno State. After '06 the schedules look ok not spectacular, but never has a future schedule under Hill been set in stone, it has always changed. Those schedules were done by Johnson, I doubt the same mistakes will be made by Thomas Boeh.
There is an open spot in 2007, maybe two. There has never been any clear any indication from the athletic department if the San Diego State series is set after the teams backed out of games from 2003-2005. USC has already filled their spot in '07 and Ohio State dropped their game against FS in '08 back in the spring, thanks SJ! Other than Oregon in '07 and '09 there may not be another top 25 team on the non-conference schedule.
Wisconsin and Kansas State will be under new coaches next year and there is no guarantee they will be great if or when Fresno State plays them in '07-'09. These new coaches might what to rethink their previous coaches' scheduling philosophy and drop their games with the Bulldogs. Kansas is making strides under Mark Mangino but he dumbed down his team's schedule this year, which included moving this year's trip to Fresno to 2009. Kansas may end up dropping their series altogether.
What happens if Fresno State plays lets say Georgia tough or even beats the 'Dawgs Between the Hedges? Does Georgia eliminate Fresno State from future schedules? Does the same happen whether the Bulldogs play LSU or Virginia Tech instead? It is pretty safe that Oregon will play Fresno State again win or lose in '06 at Bulldog Stadium, but the same can not be said for other programs. This can not be the only reason why schools will not play Fresno State, is it?
Scott Johnson was one the worst hires the University ever made and the football program's scheduling woes are just one of his many foul ups. Besides the Ohio State goof, there were weak contracts with Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, the Michigan error in '02 and he almost lost the return game with Oregon State in '03. His stupidity, I think, is the main reason Hill's program has had such little success getting games with BCS teams at home.
Many tend to forget Jim Sweeney tried to get games with the Big Boys, but he was not going to whore out the program to play them. Sweeney tried for years to get home-and-home series in the late '80s. A lengthy series with Washington State began in 1987 and was to continue until 1998, but SJ messed that up in 1996, his first year in charge of scheduling. That year Sweeney finally caved in and scheduled a "body bag" road game at Auburn in 1996. SJ was seen as the guy who got Fresno State a big game against a SEC school, Sweeney retired that year. I don't blame the guy, who in the hell would want to work under an idiot if you didn't have to.
SJ was nothing more than a used car salesman. He never returned phone calls and was a terrible AD. SJ and his many, many fuck ups along with the "stellar" basketball program has given Hill's football program a so called "renegade" persona that we all know is false. I received a return email from CSTV's Brian Curtis a while back and he said he has spoken to many athletic director's that think of Fresno State as a renegade program. He gave this as a reason why some schools shy away from scheduling the Bulldogs. We traded some more emails and pretty much came to the conclusion that the theory is out there despite Hill running a tight ship.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
The Liberty Bowl will be one of three bowl games that will have SEC officials calling the game. The others are the GMAC Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl. Although I believe instant replay will not be used in bowl games, the SEC is still sending a instant replay official and communicator. The three man crew also consists of a technician which is supplied by the home school or in this case probably the Liberty Bowl.
The SEC is one of the best BCS conferences in the nation, but in my opinion their refs are no better than the WAC's. In some cases I will even say they are worse. I am not one to complain about officiating because the game is still won on the field. Many Bulldog fans still complain about the Oregon game officials. Yeah, Fresno State was called for 16 penalties and the Ducks only 6, but the Bulldogs still had a chance to win the game but just couldn't figure out how to tackle #24 Whitehead.
Anyways, neither Tulsa or Fresno State are southern schools, so SEC officials may actually be impartial judges of the game. But the Conference USA, despite spreading into Texas, is widely considered a southern conference.
Like I said. I am not one to complain about officials determining a game. Fresno State always commits too many stupid penalties no matter who calls the game. If the Bulldogs come to play the outcome should not even be effected by stupid penalties, but if they do not come to play than the stupid penalties will be just another reason for fans to cry.
LEAVE NO DOUBT, BEAT THE HELL OUT OF TULSA.
Monday, December 12, 2005
I am writing this just on memory and little or no research. I am sure I might be missing some info, but I just do not feel like doing any research. So please, if I miss a name, point, year, or anything else, drop me a line or comment. All help is welcome.
I will start my list with former Hanford Bullpup star Shawn Wills. I was in elementary school when this Cat was breaking Valley rushing records, and dreamed he would suit up for the Bulldogs. If I am correct he was a class of 87 recruit and during that time Fresno State lacked a featured back. Kelly Skipper was good but in four years he never had a 1,000 yard season and his career game high was 109 yards. I remember a game in 1988 at CS Fullerton where Skipper tore off a 80 yard TD run but still did not get over a 100 yards rushing. WTF?
So you can see as a wide-eyed 6th grader I saw Wills as a savior and a replacement for two time 1,000 yard rusher James Williams. I do not think Wills even considered Fresno State, but he should have. He signed with UCLA, but never materialized into a great college back. I believe his career season high was just over 500 yards and not once in his four years was he the featured back. Meanwhile, Fresno State inked a bona fide stud in JUCO Aaron Craver in the spring of 89. Craver posted back to back 1,000 yard seasons in 89 and 90. Craver still holds the single season rushing TD record of 18. Fresno State also inked a highly touted back out of So Cal by the name of Ron Rivers in 89, or I believe could have been 90. If Rivers had the grades he would have been a Trojan or Bruin, but the Prop 48 fell into Jim Sweeney's lap. Rivers went on to become the best back in school history, while Wills became just another name at UCLA.
Next on my list is former Edison Tiger Ricky Whittle. Unlike the others on this list, Whittle did not have a illustrious career, but he did have a spectacular senior season. In the fall of 1990 I was a freshman starter on the offensive line/LB unit for the Edison JV football team and Whittle was the star tailback on the varsity. I saw first hand every game and game breaking moves Whittle put on opposing teams his senior year. Everyone from Nebraska to Texas A&M were beckoning for his services. Again, Fresno State was not high on his list. Craver was a senior in 1990 and Rivers was an unknown commodity sitting out the 1990 season. Whittle would have battled Rivers, Anthony Daigle and James Allison for playing time as a true.
When Whittle signed with Oregon in 1991 it sent shockwaves throughout the Edison campus and up and down the Valley. Oregon was not the Oregon of today. Yeah the Ducks were coming off back to back bowl games, their first ones in over 20+ years but were still a joke in the Pac 10. The facilities at Oregon were no better than Fresno State's back in the early 90's. The unis were the hideous green and yellow and Autzen was not nearly as daunting as it is today. Why go to a similar program, when the program with the most wins in the West the last five years, was in your own backyard? Whittle must have been psychic to blow of the likes of USC and Nebraska to sign with the Ducks.
At first his choice looked just plain dumb. His redshirt year the Ducks had a losing season and in his freshman year they barely made a bowl at 6-5. Whittle was regulated to the pine. He was playing behind a four year starter in Sean Burwell. Meanwhile, Fresno State was churning out yards by the chunks on the ground in 1991-92 behind Lorenzo Neal, Daigle and Rivers. Fresno State averaged over 300 yards a game rushing in 1991, which ranked third in the country behind only the option offenses of Nebraska and Air Force.
His Oregon decision looked even worse his sophomore season. In 1993, Fresno State had its most national media attention to date and played in its most prestigious bowl, the Aloha. Trent Dilfer and company were awesome. The Ducks had another losing season in 93 and Whittle still was nowhere near becoming a featured back in the Oregon offense. Whittle, if he had signed with the Dogs, would have certainly been targeted as the featured back for 94-95, his junior and senior seasons. But Whittle was still behind in the depth chart at Oregon in the preseason of 1994.
Had Whittle just become another Shawn Wills, but in a far less talented program? Hardly, Whittle's luck changed in 1994. As the Bulldogs went down, the Ducks went up. Oregon won the Pac 10 that year and played in the Rose Bowl. Along the way Whittle became a starter. In 1995 Whittle was the featured back in first year coach Mike Belloti's offense, and helped lead his team to the Cotton Bowl. Whittle had a 1,000 yards rushing, was named 1st team all-Pac 10 and 2nd AP all-American. Whittle ultimately had made the right choice or did he? Whittle could have helped the Dogs in 94 and 95, but it would have not made a difference in the outcome of the Bulldogs misfortune those years, unless Whittle had played defense.
In all, Whittle became a part of Oregon's football program's rebirth, an All-American, played in two historic bowl games, and was a 4th round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints. Like I said before Whittle did not have a historic high school career, unlike the next guy on my list, Steve Wofford.
For those who follow Valley high school football, there was not a more dynamic running back in the 1990's than Bakersfield's Steve Wofford. Wofford was even considered by some as the best running back in the nation heading into his senior in 1994. This guy was never, ever, ever, ever going to sign with Fresno State, but he probably should have. Wofford broke just about every major Valley and State rushing record in his four years as a Bakersfield Driller and ultimately signed with Cal in the spring of 1995. After that, it seemed like he just vanished off the face of the earth. He was never a star, but I do not know if injuries played a key or not. The fact remains the same, he never became a college football household name.
Had Wofford signed with Fresno State, he probably would have redshirted in 1995 and shared time with Michael Pittman in 1996 and 1997. Hindsight is 20/20, but just imagine if Hill had Wofford in 97-99. Hill turned an undersized, slow walk on, Jaime Kimbrough, into an an all-WAC running back in 1998.
Last on my list is Kenny James. The crown jewel among Valley running backs, James is the only great Valley running back, besides Slocum this year, to have even considered signing with Fresno State. James broke every record imaginable at Dos Palos and arguably was the best running back ever in the Central Section. James, like other great Valley backs, chose the Pac 10 and signed with Washington in the spring of 2002. Hill was banking on signing him, you could just feel it, but even without him, Hill still signed a very good class. James could have and, probably, would have been the starter in 2002 and just might have been the best running back in Bulldog history.
James has struggled at Washington, as have the Huskies, the last two years. He did not play much his redshirt freshman season in 2003 but was the starter opening day in 2004 opposite Fresno State. September 4, 2004 was one of James' best games, something he has few of. James lost his starting job this past year and may not even be the starter next year, his senior season. James is still an amazing talent but just made the wrong choice on signing day.
Slocum look at James' career at Washington and see it as a sign to become a Bulldog. Like I said in 2002 James would have been the starter. Derrick Ward was not on the team in spring of 2002 and Josh Levi was on top of the depth chart. Ward came back in the fall but could not qualify academically and Levi left the team. Walk on rFR Matt Rivera was the starter in the opener and former Dos Palos Bronco Rodney Davis was the back up. The 2002 Bulldogs would have been Kenny James' team, but we will never know what would have really happened had he been a Bulldog. James still has one more year to turn around his college career and has one more chance at the 'Dogs next year. Maybe James will transfer to a I-AA school or another I-A school perhaps Fresno State? In his three years at UW, the Huskies have not had a 1,000 yard rusher. While, FS has put out three different 1,000 yard rushers the last three years.
Lemoore's Lorenzo Neal and Merced's Wendell Mathis both tested the water in the Pac 10, Neal at Arizona and Mathis at UCLA. Both came back home to Fresno State and had great careers. Fresno State is the right fit for Slocum. There is no guarantee Dwayne Wright will be at full strength for 06. The same goes for Clifton Smith, and to boot Smith is not the bruiser Hill favors. Shannon Dorsey has great potential but durability is his problem. Slocum has a great chance to come in and be huge contributor as a true freshman.
But I will not blame him if he signs with a Pac 10 school. I never got the chance to play DI-A ball. I was a little undersized but I also got injured my sophomore year in high school and didn't play again. Players say one of the reasons they choose a certain school is because of the coach. I used to think that was bullshit. Come on, I used to think how come UCLA and Arizona State are not raking in every major recruit on the West Coast. USC is great but the campus is in Downtown LA. UCLA sits over in West LA. Besides the pussy baby blue jerseys, why wouldn't a high school kid want to play his college ball in Westwood among the stars.
As for Arizona State, I visited this campus when I was a senior in high school for a national MEChA conference. First the campus is beautiful. Second Sun Devil Stadium is an unparalleled college stadium west of the Mississippi. Third the girls were freakin hot. After partying for three straight days and dragging myself to workshops all day with a hangover, I thought what idiot would choose Pullman or Eugene over Tempe?
This brings me back to the point of choosing a school because of a coach. If I was a high school senior and I was offered a scholarship to play for Peter Carroll at USC, no way in hell am I turning it down. USC is the best program in the country right now and is there a better college coach in America than Carroll? To top it off, Carroll expects freshman to contribute. This year's Trojans are peppered with true freshman and are gunning for a third straight national title.
As for UCLA and Arizona State, just look at their coaches. UCLA's Karl Dorrell is fitting of the Bruin pussy baby blue jersey, and ASU's Dirk Koetter is, for the lack of a better word, a dick.
So, to sum it up if Tracy Slocum does not sign with the Bulldogs, best of luck to him. As history has shown standout Valley backs do not fare well when they leave home.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
The last couple of days I have refrained from reading the papers or reading anything online, but I have tuned to some of the afternoon radio shows: Kelly and Jim on 1340, Paul on 1430 and Tony D and the gang on 1550. I only listen to parts of these shows and I only listened from the hour of 4-5. Some of these of these stations are just on Pat Hill's nuts and just do not have a clue. I am not going to point fingers or name people or stations. For those who listened to one or more of these shows know what I am talking about. Again, I only listened to part of these shows and I am only going to comment on what I heard.
What is more important, winning a WAC title or winning BCS games and getting national exposure?
For those who say this was an outstanding season, Fresno State did not accomplish neither of these this year. The Bulldogs are unranked to end the regular season for the 8th time in Hill's 9 years and are not WAC champs for 8th time in his 9 years. For the first time since 2000, Fresno State did not beat a BCS team. 2000 was the first year Hill beat a BCS school (Cal) and has beaten at least one every year since.
Ok! How can someone honestly say everything is all right, nothing needs to be changed, and the program is still building towards its goal of a "national title". Some local radio personalities are saying winning the WAC title is not important as the big picture. That the big picture is beating or playing good against BCS schools on national TV.
A record FSN TV audience saw the Bulldogs play the No. 1 USC Trojans to the wire, but piss away their chance at a win because of 5 second half turnovers. I am sure some these same viewers tuned the next two weeks to ESPN2 to see FS get beat by WAC also-rans Nevada and Louisiana Tech.
If the goal is to look good on national TV against BCS teams, shouldn't it be the same when FS plays WAC teams on national TV? Oh, that's right the WAC title is not important. It is only important to us fans in the Valley, and no cares in the rest of the country.
Hill has brought Fresno State great national attention and respect. The average fan in other parts of the country see Fresno State as the little guy that beats the crap out of the big guy, and thinks Fresno State has been dominating the WAC for years. Even some national TV analysts, who don't do their homework, fall into the trap thinking the Bulldogs are kings of the WAC. Yes, Fresno State's program arguably is the best in the WAC and their national reputation supersedes them, but Nevada and Louisiana Tech have more WAC titles than FS does this decade.
For those who really know their college football football, see Fresno State as just a national novelty. I said that Fresno State's play on the field this year resembled the aggressive dominating nature of Virginia Tech. It looks like Fresno State has also adopted the Hokies' recent tradition of late season collapses. Even one local radio personality told Bulldog fans not to hold their heads down because national power Virginia Tech has been suffering some late season failures of late. But is VT really a national power? Or just a big fish in an even big pond? Unlike the Big Fish Bulldogs in the little pond.
Frank Beamer gets credit for turning Virginia Tech into a national power, but many college football analysts have yet to put the Hokies into that class because of the tradition of late season collapses and their resume is not as impressive as one would think.
When Beamer took over VT, there were not chop liver as many would think. Actually, in 1986, the season before Beamer took over VT went 9-2-1, won the Peach Bowl and finished ranked #20 in the final AP Poll. When Beamer took over VT in 1987, he suffered 6 straight non-bowl seasons, but did have back to back 6 wins season is 1989 and 1990. Actually the 1990 team finished ranked #25 in the final coaches poll, but that was due to the fact that it was the first year of the expanded poll and the coaches were not able to rank teams on probation.
Beamer has had VT in a bowl every year since 1993 but has only played in one national championship game, 1999. In his first 3 years VT was an independent, but became a member of the Big East in 1991 and joined the ACC last year. In 18 years Beamer has brought home 4 conference titles, 13 straight bowl appearances, 4 top 10 finishes but no national titles.
Dig deeper and the first two conference titles were in the Big East when Miami was on probation, 1995 and 1996. The third was won behind the arm and legs of one of the best college quarterbacks of all-time, Michael Vick. Miami was not at full strength after probation in 1999 but were in 2000. The 2000 VT team was better than the 1999 version, but lost to Miami and missed out on a BCS berth. The VT legacy did not stop after Vick's early departure to the NFL.
In 2001, 20002, and 2003 the Hokies won at least 6 games to start the season and climb high in the polls and were considered national title contenders. But each one of those teams lost in October and it started a mid-season slide that ended in a disappointing season. Yet, the 2003 team looked like it got over the hump by upsetting their nemesis, Miami, 31-7, a week after losing to West Virginia. But the 2003 Hokies only won one more game, against 1-11 Temple, and lost five others to end the season unranked for the first time since 1997.
Last year's team had very little expectations or preseason hype, but ended up winning the ACC title. This year the hype built up again, but this time VT got through October without a loss. The first week of November was the doom this time as Miami whipped the Hokies, 27-7. VT still had a shot at the ACC title after Miami lost to Georgia Tech, but VT was embarrassed by 7-4 Florida State in the ACC championship game.
If Virginia Tech with their great coach, BCS conference, huge budget, national exposure and big-time recruits can not finish the task and win a national title, how do Bulldog fans expect Hill to do it at Fresno State?
Fresno State, or any non-BCS school for that matter, will not win a national title unless there is some sort of playoff. If an unbeaten SEC champ, Auburn, was left out last year how does anyone expect a WAC school to get a shot. Hell, Utah only got to play an awful Pitt team in Tempe last year after running the table.
Hill's goal when he became coach at Fresno State was to play big-time college football. Accomplished! But since the magical run in September of 2001, his goal has been to earn a bid to the BCS. Hill wanted to be the first non-BCS team to crash the party. Well, Utah beat the 'Dogs to the punch bowl and proved that it can be done without having to play a front loaded schedule with top 10 teams. One note, Utah was lucky to have had good but not great Texas A&M and North Carolina teams at home last year and a bad Arizona team on the road.
Hill has had his Michael Vick, that once in a lifetime player that can lead a team to greatness. David Carr had a spectacular year in 2001 but that team finished with 3 losses, no bowl win and no top 25 finish. He deserved better than a Silicon Valley Classic as his final farewell and at least another conference ring besides the one he got as a redshirt in 1999.
Hill does not need to be fired. The people that say that are just stupid. But the program does need an overhaul. Virginia Tech and Fresno State are in the same boat, but at different levels, great coaches, good teams, but lack one ingredient to put it all together. The boat is slowly sinking, but that does not mean fans have to jump out so quick.
Beat the shit of Tulsa and all be right in Bulldog Land! Until the next time the 'Dogs stub their toe in the WAC on their way to national prominence.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Willingham had the 'Dogs at #23 and Brown had them at #24. Pat Hill did not even rank his own team, but did rank Boise State at #23 and Nevada at #25. Dan Hawkins didn't rank the 'Dogs , either, but had his Broncos at #25.
Monday, December 05, 2005
CBs Richard Marshall and Marcus McCauley, and LB Dwayne Andrews made the second team.
The 11 players were the most of any team in the WAC. Nevada was the next closest with 10. If PK Clint Stitser does not get hurt, he would have been 1st all-WAC, and Bryson Sumlin was deserving of 2nd team honors until he disappeared the last three games of the year. Pinegar was probably a lock for offensive player of the year until his meltdown in the second half of USC and against Louisiana Tech. Therefore, Nevada's B.J. Mitchell was chosen by default. Marcus McCauley, like Richard Marshall last year, was overlooked and deserves first team honors.
Here was my preseason all-WAC team, see how it compares.
That was a direct quote from Perry Winstead, Chief Financial Officer of the Liberty Bowl. But that quote could have come from anyone in America, especially Fresno State and Tulsa fans.
Pat Hill and the 'Dogs really have laid an egg the last two games. After the great performance at the Coliseum, Fresno State falls flat on its face at Nevada and at home against Louisiana Tech. The Liberty Bowl was supposed to be a great bowl experience for the players and fans. The first bowl berth to a game east of the Rockies, and the promise to play a conference champ from Conference USA. Those statements still hold true, but the......
....champ is Tulsa. Yes, the same Tulsa that Fresno State is 4-0 against all-time. The closest game in the series was the first one back in 1999, 28-14. The Tulsa program has been reborn under coach Steve Kragthorpe, but to many Bulldog fans, it's still Tulsa. Hill has never faced Kragthorpe, as he did not take over the Golden Hurricane until 2003 and Fresno State last played Tulsa in 2002.
The only positive I see is, Fresno State has a 4 loss season, finishes 4th in the Western Athletic Conference, but still gets a invite to their most prestigious bowl game ever. However, it should be noted the Liberty might have had some premature ejaculation after the 'Dogs took the Trojans to the wire. Inviting a 16th ranked 8-2 team that is expected to be conference champs is one thing, but I think the Liberty will be a little more cautious in the future. Executive director Steve Ehrhart was practically about to cum during the USC game and flew out just days later to invite Fresno State. Ehrhart and the rest of the Liberty board have just experienced what Bulldog fans have had to deal with since Hill's arrival.
Going to the Liberty Bowl game could really backfire on Hill and Fresno State. With three straight losses and the loss of their national ranking, the Bulldogs are hardly the national draw many thought they would be. I doubt a huge amount of Bulldog fans are willing to pay thousands to travel cross country to see a team that just gave up or see the 'Dogs play a former WAC pasty.
If the Liberty Bowl wanted the Dogs so bad, Hill should have just told them to wait and let his team finish out the season. Despite the two losses, Fresno State probably would have gotten a bid to the Emerald Bowl vs 6-5 Utah. As soon as Emerald officials found out Fresno State was headed to the Liberty, they locked up an ACC team. If the 'Dogs would have waited, the Liberty would probably have invited Georgia Tech or Virginia and the Emerald probably would have extended an invite to Fresno State.
Hindsight is 20/20, but the fact remains the Bulldogs stuck it up to end the season. I for one would not spend my hard earned money on some airfare, hotel and Liberty Bowl tickets for a team that just gave up. I do not blame the players, the coaching staff did not have this team prepared to handle the post USC hoopla.
But, if the 'Dogs were playing Utah in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco that is a different story. I will eventually get over the fact that Hill has not finished out another season and will be excited to see Fresno State play in a bowl game. San Francisco is a lot easier to get to last minute than Memphis, and if the Dogs if get blow out, I still can enjoy the city. Even though Tulsa is a conference champ, has a better record and is a better team than Utah; the Utes carry more weight nationally after their Bowl Championship Series bowl win last year. Urban Meyer did it in two years like nothing, what the fuck is taking Hill so fucking long.
No team from the WAC is going to win a national title, so why not tone down the fucking schedule and get to a BCS bowl game, if that is what you fucking want. Utah did not exactly beat up on pasties last year. Texas A&M finished 7-5 and North Carolina went 6-6 with a win over Miami. Both of those teams went to a bowl game, and Utah also beat Arizona. Compare that to Fresno State's schedule last year, Arizona was a better team than Washington, A&M was better than Kansas State, and North Carolina was a lot tougher than Portland State. Huh? Exactly, the 'Dogs had the schedule set up perfectly for a BCS run, but blew their chance.
Already Bulldog fans are already pointing to next year, just check out the Barkboard. Everyone is putting the blame on Paul Pinegar and are glad to see him gone. Many are saying Tom Brandstater or even the undersized Sean Norton will be the quarterback Messiah to lead the 'Dogs to the BCS. If Hill could not finish the deal back in 2001 with a stud like David Carr at quarterback, what makes anyone think Brandstater will fair any better?
Overhaul the freaking coaching staff. Dan Brown, Tim Simons, John Settle, Kerry Locklin, Tom Mason, Randy Stewart don't let the door hit you on the way out.
I love the Bulldogs and had been a supporter of Pat Hill, but honestly I have my doubts. The 'Dogs should have been outright WAC champs in 2001 and last year, and should have at least tied in 2003 will all the talent they had. Pat Hill has his most talented team now, for the third year in a row. 9-5 in 03 to 9-3 last year, so if the curve proves true, the Dogs should lose only one game and finish 12-1.
Hill's teams have not been consistent for a whole season. The closest they came was the last six games last year. If they can maintain it for the whole season 12-1 is possible. I don't think they can maintain it. I predict a dominating win over Oregon and a strong 6-0 start with a top 12 or higher ranking. But, all will come crashing down at Hawaii, in typical Hill fashion. Hawaii does not have it's best team this year, but by Oct 29 they should have their kinks out and are always tough at home especially against Fresno. Hill has never won on the island even when he has had a better team than the Warriors like in 97, 99, and 01. Much like the loss at Louisiana Tech, Hill will fail to put away the home team and lose a heartbreaker, killing his dream season weeks before Boise State and USC. With BCS dreams gone, I doubt this team will beat a weaker, but always consistent Boise State team or have a prayer against USC. I predict 9-3, two WAC losses, and a Hawaii Bowl berth, a typical underachieving Pat Hill season.
Hopefully, the last six games were not a mirage and Hill has finally figured it out, and I am wrong on my prediction. Because this years team is really loaded. Weakness at DL was a concern, but with Ricky Miller returning this year as a DE that could be an afterthought. SS is suspect with James Sanders gone, but Vince Mays is a stud and Awan Diles does have three years starting experience as a CB. In an ideal world the 'Dogs pound the football and finish in the top 3 nationally in rushing. Pinegar attempts at most 20 passes a game and completes over 70% them with about 20 tds and no more than 5 ints on the season. All this leads to a 9-0 start and fingers crossed Nov 19 in the Coliseum._________________Go Dogs win the WAC! If Pat Hill can not win a WAC title this year, what more does he need..........Dan Hawkins?
I hate being right. I thought maybe if I didn't have such high expectations, Fresno State would finally exceed them. Although, my predictions on the win/losses were not exactly correct, I was right about a typical underachieving season.