Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Line of Scrimmage

Fresno State is unbeatable when they run for over 150 yards. The Bulldog offensive line may not have Logan Mankins leading the way like last year, but it is still one of the best in the West. The undersized but quick guard combo of Ryan Wendell and Cole Popovich is the best in Western Athletic Conference, and center Kyle Young is a future first round pick. There is no reason why Fresno State should not run up the middle, but the Bulldogs tend to have more success on the outside. Fullback Roshon Vercher is like having a third guard, but with his absence maybe Fresno State will run more sweeps and tosses.

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.

No comments: