Monday, February 27, 2006

Former Beaver Will Reportedly Walk On

Former Oregon State WR Phil Ghilarducci will reportedly walk on at Fresno State this Fall. The former Henry M. Gunn HS (Palo Alto) standout redshirted in 2003, but left Oregon State in the Spring of 2004 to be closer to his ill father. Ghilarducci sat out the 2004 season, and enrolled at Santa Rosa JC for the fall of 2005 but got injured. Unable to waste another year of eligibility, he will compete immediately for playing time this August.

Ghilarducci was lightly recruited his senior year at Gunn. It was not until Sam Picture, his HS coach, sent out highlight tapes to various schools and coaches, after the season had ended. That caught the attention of Oregon State, Oregon and Washington from the Pac 10 and UNLV and Utah from the MWC.

He has not played competitive football since his senior year in 2002. However, he was a three-year starter at WR/FS and his stats were amazing.

"He had 6 interceptions and 16 touchdowns. He had 84 catches for 1034 yards. He blocked two PAT's and two punts, one he returned for a touchdown. He runs a 4.45 40." Picture said back in 2003.

If Ghilarducci can adjust quickly to college game after a 3 year absence, he will be another great addition to the program. Pat Hill got himself a hell of a walk on.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Marshall In Indianapolis

Richard Marshall/CB/Fresno State
- Checked in at 5’11/189 pounds.
- Will do a full workout.
- Hopes to run the 40 in the low 4.4s to maybe 4.3.
- Played mostly quarters and man defense.
- Says he can play all styles of defense.
- When asked who was the toughest receiver he’s faced, he said “There really wasn’t anybody that tough.”
- Received a projection of the second or third rounds from the NFL.
- Has interviewed with the Miami Dolphins.

Knee-Jerk 06 Predictions

It is only February, but it is never too early to make predictions. Spring ball has not even started, and no one knows who the starting quarterback will be or if Dwayne Wright and Clifton Smith will return from injury with little or no effect. The new offensive assistants should be able to mesh well with the players, but will the offense be effective?

Defensively, every Bulldog fan is concerned about the linebacking corps. How will Marcus Riley's season ending injury effect him? Who will play in his absence, if needed? Is Goodwin ready to fend off the challengers at strong side LB? Will true freshman Robert Schenck adapt to the college game quick enough and battle Dwayne Andrews for playing time at MLB?

So many questions to list, but that is what Spring practice is for. Yet, I will list my best and worst cast scenarios, as well as, my knee-jerk prediction for the 2006 season. After spring ball and preseason practice the predictions will have a little more depth, but for now lets take a stab at the schedule. 12-0 is really the best case scenario, but with so many question marks at this point of the season, it's not. As we head closer to the season, 12-0 could become a reality. Remember all the question marks right now (QB, RB, LB, CB, FS, DE), these scenarios are based on what is known right now.

9/1 Nevada

The Wolfpack will be preseason favorites to win the WAC by many preseason publications. Jeff Rowe is the conference's best quarterback, and UN returns a slew of starters. The nationally televised matchup will set the stage for the Bulldog's biggest conference opener in Fresno State history. If the WAC championship is a serious goal for 2006, the Bulldogs better be ready for a very good Nevada team.

Best Case Scenario- Fresno State comes out fired up, as always, for the season opener. The offense executes with precise timing, and defense's increased team speed improves their defense against the run. Brandstater and Norton share equal time at QB, and show tremendous poise and leadership.
Worst Case Scenario- Nevada's pistol offense comes out firing against the rebuilt Bulldog secondary, jumping out to a big lead. Fresno State must abandoned their offensive gameplan, and start chucking the ball which leads to numerous mistakes and turnovers. The defense plays better, but still is over-matched early on against the pistol offense, and is unable to overcome all of the offenses's mistakes.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 31, Nevada 20

9/9 Oregon

Its been 10 years since the last time the Ducks visited Fresno. That game, and every one since has been a classic. ESPN has yet to announce a kickoff time for their broadcast, but more than likely it would be an late afternoon or evening kickoff. It shouldn't matter what time the kickoff is, it will be hot. Oregon is coming off a 10-2 season and top 10 ranking. The Ducks will be a consensus top 25 team heading into 2006. As long as they beat Stanford in their opener, they should be ranked when they visit Bulldog Stadium.

Best Case Scenario- The Bulldogs ride the momentum of their season opening win, and jump out to an early lead, and never trail. Combining a precise passing attack and balanced running game, FS keeps the Oregon offense off the field. The defense improves from week one, and learns from its mistakes from last year against UO's hurry-up offense.
Worst Case Scenario- Lets face the truth, the Ducks have a talented offense and QB Dennis Dixon should have a better passing game to compliment his already dangerous running ability. The improving Bulldog secondary doesn't step up to the challenge and gets beat repeatedly by the spread offense. DT Haloti Ngata has moved on to the NFL, but FS is still unable to run the ball. The Bulldog offense is still breaking in new offensive assistants and a new QB, and playing a top 25 Oregon team is no easy task, even at home.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 34, Oregon 32

9/16 at Washington

Fresno State waltzed into Seattle two years ago and handed the Huskies an embarrassing defeat. This time around UW will be ready for the 'Dogs. Ty Willingham is turning around the program and 2006 will be the year the Huskies return to respectability. I doubt ABC will add this game to their regional package, but FSN will probably pick this game up for a 3:30pm PT kickoff.

Best Case Scenario- Willingham is turning around the program, but Fresno State still has the better team. With two games under his belt, either Norton or Brandstater will have pulled ahead to claim the starting position and play well enough to win their first road game as a starter.
Worst Cast Scenario- Hill names his starting quarterback for the game, and the rookie buckles under the pressure of his first road game. UW rebounds nicely from their road game at Oklahoma the week prior, and outplays the hapless Bulldogs. Sputtering on offense, FS brings in its backup QB. He sparks the offense, but its a little too late, and a QB controversy is born.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Washington 24, Fresno State 22

9/30 Colorado State

CSU returns to Fresno after backing out of its game in 2004. The Rams are fresh off a 6-6 bowl season, but must replace their starting quarterback, and are hardly the MWC powerhouse they once were. There is no national TV for this game at this point, but I wouldn't be surprised to see FS move the game to a weekday for ESPN, considering its has a bye the previous week. ESPN could pick up the game for Saturday since the MWC no longer has a contract with ESPN, and the network will be looking for some late night Saturday games.

Best Case Scenario- It weird to call CSU a breather, but that is exactly what the Rams will be after FS has played three tough games to start 06. The QB and offense has its best game of the year, and defense continues to improve.
Worst Case Scenario- CSU will have a few games under their belt by late September and it has had moderate success at Bulldog Stadium, winning 2 of 5. In a game FS should win easily, the 'Dogs come out flat after the bye and there is still no clear cut favorite at quarterback.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 41, Colorado State 24

10/7 at Utah State

Unless Utah State is having a spectacular year to this point, there will be no national TV for this contest. After four big games in September, October begins with a tricky conference road game in the high altitude. The last time Fresno State traveled to Logan was back in 1991. The 'Dogs were 7-0 and ranked #25, but lost 20-19. It was Trent Dilfer's first road game as a starter, and he was pretty decent QB. Brandstater/Norton has to be ready for an improved Aggie team.

Best Case Scenario- The defense plays its best game of season, and the offense just puts the game into cruise control. The Bulldogs adjust well to the Rocky Mountain air, and are able to play a lot of the younger players in a rout.
Worst Case Scenario- Utah State plays hard and the 'Dogs do not. It is remarkably cold for early October in Utah, and FS can not adapt to the environment. The passing game is laid to rest, and the FS must beat the Aggies with the run.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 34, Utah State 13

10/14 Hawai'i

I can not a recall a better homecoming game than this year's. A mid-October 2pm kickoff against bitter rival Hawai'i will be the setting. If FS keeps the kickoff time, it is highly unlikely it will be on national TV. Hawai'i should have its best offense ever under June Jones and that is saying a lot. The Bulldog secondary will face its toughest challenge of the season.

Best Case Scenario- Fresno State comes out ready to chuck the ball. There is no way this game will not be a shootout. The defense does a good job keeping the Warrior offense from going ape$h!t. The young Bulldog QB comes of age hanging toe to toe with one of the conference's best in Colt Brennan.
Worst Case Scenario- Hawai'i's passing game is too much for the over-matched Bulldog secondary. Fresno State's offense can not establish the run, and the passing game is not clicking early on. Special teams play a big role, but not for the Bulldogs.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 52, Hawai'i 34

10/21 at LSU

If Bulldog fans thought the USC game was the biggest game in Bulldog history, just imagined the hype in Baton Rouge if the 'Dogs and Tigers are both unbeaten come late October. LSU is a legitimate top 5 team, but the Tigers must travel to Auburn and Florida before they host FS. The 'Dogs have a better shot at having an unblemished record, despite not being as good as LSU. ESPN has tentatively scheduled this game for its coveted 7:45pm ET kickoff, and there is a good chance gameday will be in Baton Rouge if FS is unbeaten and knocking on the door of the top 10.
Best Case Scenario- LSU enters the contest beat up physically and emotionally after losing at Auburn and Florida. The Tigers shot at a national title is gone, and beating FS bears no significance in winning the SEC conference. FS, on the other hand, has everything to play for and comes out on fire.
Worst Case Scenario- FS is beat up emotionally and physically. A very promising season has hit bottom with 3 losses and trip to LSU staring the 'Dogs right in the face. Lets be realistic, Death Valley is not the easiest place to play and a Fresno State team not 100% or playing its best came will get beat easily.
Knee Jerk Prediction- LSU 24, Fresno State 13

11/1 at Boise State

Both schools will have 10 days to prepare for this year's battle of the WAC. Boise State should be unbeaten or at worse have no more than 2 losses when the Bulldogs come to town. ESPN2 will televise the Wednesday night affair, and depending how the 'Dogs did the week before at LSU this years BSU-FS game could be for a chance at the BCS. BSU was a bit overrated last year, and will be underrated this year, like FS. Jared Zabransky is still a dangerous QB, and the Broncos return a host of running backs.

Best Case Scenario- Zabransky continues his dismal performances in big games, and commits inopportune turnovers. FS plays a flawless game on offense, and for once establishes a pounding ground game against the Broncos in Boise.
Worst Case Scenario- The horrors of the Smurf Turf continue for the 'Dogs. FS can not establish a run game, and are forced to pass. FS is unable to sustain any drives on offense, and as a result the defense falters in the second half.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Boise State 27, Fresno State 24

11/11 New Mexico State

The Aggies will be a welcomed home game after tough back-to-back road games. NMSU was the only team in the WAC that didn't win a game last year, so it is an understatement to say it will improve in 2006. Hal Mumme's pass happy offense should be light years ahead of last years' unit, but NMSU's defense will still be a work in progress. I highly doubt there will be any TV for this game, national or local.

Best Case Scenario- The Bulldogs put away NMSU in the first half. The starters get a well rested second half, and the young backups showcase their tremendous potential.
Worst Case Scenario- Fresno State is beat up physically and mentally after back-to-back losses at LSU and Boise State. The Bulldogs play lackluster football, and are taken to the wire by the Aggies.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 40, NMSU 21

11/18 Idaho

The Vandals might have a great head coach in Dennis Erickson, but the fruits of his labor will not take effect until at least 2007. NMSU and Idaho at home give the Bulldogs a much needed breather before finishing off the season at Louisiana Tech and San Jose State. Erickson's presence and the fact that the Bulldogs are ESPN media darlings might be enough to warrant a national TV broadcast, if the Vandals have a decent record and kickoff is moved to accommodate the network.

Best Case Scenario- The Bulldogs roll through an upstart Vandal team with ease. There is no sign of a late season stumble, and the starters rest a good part of the second half.

Worst Case Scenario- Idaho is having a better season than expected, and ESPN2 moves the game to Friday night for national TV. A less than lively home crowd of about 35,000 shows up, and a less than lively Bulldog team shows up. Jim Sweeney is seen cheering the Vandals (and Erickson) after they take a second half lead.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 38, Idaho 17

11/24 at Louisiana Tech

The Bayou Bulldogs have become Fresno State's new nemesis. After back-to-back wins over Hawaii and finally beating Boise State last year, Fresno State's new goal in the WAC is to beat LA Tech. FS has not beaten them since 2003. This year's game will be part of the after Thanksgiving ESPN football hoopla on Black Friday. LA Tech is becoming a steady force, after having less than stellar years in 2002 and 2003 after winning the WAC title outright in 2001. The 2006 team has a good shot to take home the conference title and the FS game could be the biggest game in Ruston, ever.

Best Case Scenario- The weather is mild for the 8pm CT kickoff. Fresno State strikes quickly and often. The defense puts the relentless pressure on LA Tech, and forces key turnovers. FS capitalizes on its opportunities, and never let up in an impressive win.
Worst Case Scenario- It is absolutely cold, just as it was in 2002, but this time FS does not adapt well. After two average performances at home against teams from the WAC's bottom half, the Bulldogs have trouble picking up the pace against one of the league's best.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 44, Louisiana Tech 31

12/2 at San Jose State

The jury is still out on Dick Tomey and his Spartan program. Will they be decent in 2006 or just another conference pasty? Either way, there is a good shot the regular season finale at San Jose State could be televised nationally on an ESPN network.

Best Case Scenario- Fresno State continues it's dominance over SJSU. The Bulldogs needing a win over the Spartans to secure a WAC title, do not falter and get the job done.
Worst Case Scenario- A rowdy Spartan crowd greets Fresno State in a nationally televised matchup. With a bowl game already locked up and no shot at a WAC title, Fresno State plays lethargic. SJSU, however, got word that a win over Fresno State could give them an at-large berth to the San Francisco Bowl with a 7-5 record.
Knee Jerk Prediction- Fresno State 51, San Jose State 27

With this schedule, a mid-season slump should be expected. Unlike in years past, the toughest part of the schedule is in the mid-October, Hawaii, at LSU and at Boise State. Those 3 games will tell how good the Bulldogs really are. Wins over Hawaii and Boise State could secure a WAC title showdown with LA Tech later in the season and a good showing against LSU will continue to give the Bulldogs much earned national respect.

My knee jerk prediction for the 2006 is 9-3(7-1), which should be good enough to earn a share of the WAC title. Yet, this team could easily go 11-1, LSU is the only game that can be classified as difficult. However, this team is young in certain key areas, and could have a disappointing 7-5 or 6-6 year, but be very good in 2007.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fresno State 2006 Schedule

It's official the 2006 schedule was just released on The schedule is highlighted by the Friday night home opener against co-WAC champ Nevada on ESPN2 and the first Saturday ESPN game at Bulldog Stadium against Oregon. The mid-season non-conference game at LSU is also slated for ESPN, which was not listed by the WAC ESPN football schedule release.

Another great surprise is the last three home games have a 2pm PT kickoff, and only the home game not on a Saturday is the opener against Nevada. The rest of the schedule has only two other non-Saturday games, but both will be televised on ESPN2, Wed. 11/1 at Boise State and Fri. 11/24 at Louisiana Tech.

2006 Football Schedule
Fri 9/1 Nevada ESPN2 7:00 PM
Sat 9/9 Oregon ESPN TBA

Sat 9/16 @Washington TBA
Sat 9/30 Colorado State 7:00 PM
Sat 10/7 @Utah State TBA
Sat 10/14 Hawai'i 2:00 PM (Homecoming)
Sat 10/21 @LSU ESPN TBA
Wed 11/1 @Boise State ESPN2 5:00 PM
Sat 11/11 New Mexico State 2:00 PM
Sat 11/18 Idaho 2:00 PM

Fri 11/24 @Louisiana Tech ESPN2 6:00 PM
Sat 12/2 @San Jose State 3:00 PM

WAC Announces ESPN Football Schedule: 'Dogs Get 4 TV Dates

Fresno State will open up the season at home on ESPN2 on Friday September 1. The following weekend the Bulldogs will host Oregon in its first Saturday home ESPN telecast ever. ESPN2 will telecast two WAC away games at Boise State Wed, Nov. 1 and at Louisiana Tech the Friday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 24. The complete ESPN WAC Football schedule:

Friday, Sept. 1
Nevada at Fresno State-ESPN2

Thursday, Sept. 7
Oregon State at Boise State-ESPN2

Saturday, Sept. 9
Oregon at Fresno State-ESPN

Friday, Sept. 23
Northwestern at Nevada-ESPN2

Wednesday, Nov. 1
Fresno State at Boise State-ESPN2

Friday, Nov. 24
Fresno State at Louisiana Tech-ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 25
Boise State at Nevada-ESPN or ESPN2

Saturday, Nov. 25
Purdue at Hawai`i-ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday, Dec. 2
Oregon State at Hawai`i-ESPN or ESPN2


The new student booster club is in the final stages of finalizing its plans for the upcoming football season. Per new Western Athletic Conference rules, the student section will not sit directly behind the visiting team bench. The REDZONE will encompass the first 20 rows of sections 36, 37, and 38, roughly the southeast corner of Bulldog Stadium.

The idea is the create a clear block of red on the games with a very rowdy section. Final details have not been worked regarding the color shirt/sweatshirt they will wear, but red is the obvious favorite over the current white shirts worn at the Save Mart Center. The REDZONE is trying to collaborate with the band to help bolster the section at football games this Fall.

The season tickets will be $60 for students and $90 for guests, with $5 of that automatically going to the REDZONE when the season ticket holder checks a box on the form. Thundersticks, more than likely, will be given away for every home game, or at least for the REDZONE.

More details will be available later, and everything is tentative until the Athletic Department's final release. The REDZONE is always looking for sponsors, to increase the giveaways for students and improve the section at the games. If you are interested in sponsoring the REDZONE drop me a line.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

4 'Dogs Invited to NFL Combine

QB Paul Pinegar, WR Adam Jennings, RB Wendell Mathis, and CB Richard Marshall are among the 300 plus players from 107 different universities invited to participate in the NFL combine starting today and continuing until Feb. 28.

Pat Hill continues to produce players that have the talent and ability to go to the next level. Only one other non-BCS school, New Mexico, had as many players invited. The Bulldogs had the same amount of players invited as Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State combined. They also had more players invited than these much bigger programs: Arizona State(3), Cal(3), Clemson(3), Notre Dame(3), South Carolina(2), Stanford(3), Washington(2), Washington State(3), West Virginia(2), and a host of other BCS schools.

Sept. 1 Opener on ESPN?

The Western Athletic Conference has yet to announce the 2006 football schedule, but some unverified info has been released about a Fresno State vs Nevada opener on Friday September 1 on ESPN. Makes perfect sense, the Wolfpack were the only WAC school that had an open date the first week of the season. My guess was Pat Hill was not going to play at LSU, unless WAC commissioner Karl Benson gave Fresno State a WAC opener the first week of September before Oregon came to Bulldog Stadium the next weekend.

New Mexico State or Idaho were obvious choices because of their creampuff status, but Idaho was already scheduled to play at Michigan State September 2. NMSU still had an open date the first week of September, and looked to be the choice for the Bulldogs to play. But NMSU signed to play IAA Southeastern Louisiana on August 31. I am speculating Benson tried to get Aggie head coach Hal Mumme to move the game, but with no prevail. Thus, Nevada vs Fresno State is a likely go.

Nevada will likely be the media favorite to win the WAC this upcoming season. The "Oracle" of college football, CFN, has already said the Pack is the best team from the WAC for 2006. It will be a huge home opener for Fresno State, and there is no high school football that Friday. If there is not a sellout for Pat Hill's first ever DIA home season opener, then there will probably never be one in his career. The new coaching staff better come together quickly, as the Pack will be looking to jump ahead in the WAC with a big win over Fresno State.

If the 'Dogs were to lose, all might come crashing down with the Ducks coming to town the next week. A 6 game losing streak will not sit well with the fickle Bulldog fans. Even the ones that clamored for the LSU game will be questioning Hill for scheduling the Tigers instead of a IAA "tune up" to get the kinks out before UO. Tom Brandstater/Sean Norton will have his hands full come September. Just ask Paul Pinegar how kind Bulldog fans are when it comes to "rooting" for the quarterback.

I will post a link when available or as soon as I verify the source.

Don't Mess with the Kicker!

Clint Stitser is not your average kicker. Stitser is 6'1 202 lb junior, but is stronger than most of the Bulldog linebackers. ESPN named its top workout freaks, and Stitser is No. 6.

Maybe Stitser should take some reps at LB. He couldn't do any worse than the unit did in the last four games. Anyways, he is just another stud in what should be one of the best special teams units in the country in 2006.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I loved Tim Skipper just as much as the next Bulldog fan, but I find it weird that the former Sacramento State defensive coordinator was named the new running backs coach by Pat Hill. Skipper was hired along with former graduate assistant Derek Frazier. Frazier replaces former offensive line coach Mark Weber who left for a similar position at North Carolina.

Hill usually finds the best assistants available to fill spots vacated, but I am finding it hard to swallow his last two hires. Hill's flirtation with the NFL has really started to take a toll on the program. If Hill had left for the NFL, his assistants probably would have been left hanging. Weber and former RB coach John Settle jumped at opportunities at BCS schools. Defensive line coach Kerry Locklin missed out on becoming an assistant with the St. Louis Rams. So it is amazing that only two have left since early January.

Frazier returns to Fresno State after one season as the offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at Northern Arizona. Frazier spent two seasons (2003-2004) as a graduate assistant at Fresno State working with the offensive line. Frazier is a decent hire. His familiarity with the program, players, and scheme will make up for his inexperience as Division IA assistant.

Now back to Skipper, I would have love to see him as the linebacker coach. Current LB coach Tom Mason is not doing anything special with that unit. Skipper's older brother is the much beloved former Bulldog running back Kelly Skipper. With big brother's help, maybe Tim could get the basics down on becoming a great running back coach. But how will he do in 2006?

There is a lot of talent in the Bulldog backfield, but durability is a big question mark. Dwayne Wright looks to back to 100% for Spring ball, but how long will it take him to get back to football playing shape? He has been out of the game for nearly two years. Clifton Smith is not considered an every down back, but the talented junior has only one collegiate carrier. Shannon Dorsey will be a fourth-year junior but has only a handful of carries himself. There is a good chance true freshman Lonyae Miller could be the second or third back. But instead of a former 1,000 yard NFL back, Settle, tutoring him. A first year, former LB, RB coach will have the responsibility of guiding Fresno State's most prized RB recruit in the Hill era.

Hill knows what he is doing. I have my doubts about the hires, but who am I to question them. I am just concerned with such a large amount of new assistants (especially on offense), a new quarterback, a tough schedule, and some uncertainty that a 6-6 or 7-5 disappointing season could be on the horizon. After so much animosity from the 4 game losing streak that ended 2005, Bulldog fans might not be patient enought to sit through a mediocre season. Even though, the 2007 season, with seasoned assistant coaches and a veteran quarterback, should be great.

Many fans think Hill will jump ship, if the ship sinks in 2006. I still think the 2006 team should win at least 8 games, but it all depends on who the Bulldogs open the season with. An opener against Oregon on September 9 could be fatal with a road trip to an improved Washington team the following week. Fresno State needs to play a lesser team September 2 to get the kinks out, and I stress need to. Karl Benson please put New Mexico State on the schedule September 2.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Going, Going, Gone.......

Is the new motto for Fresno State Bulldog assistant coaches. Offensive line coach Mark Weber is the latest to go. Weber is joining former offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti at North Carolina. Defensive assistant coach Kerry Locklin will know by Tuesday if he will be joining the St. Louis Rams as an assistant coach. I wonder if Hill's flirtation with NFL had anything to do with this? You can't blame the assistants, they have themselves and their assistants to worry about. If Hill would have left, there was no guarantee his assistants would have a job. I said in previous posts that Hill needed to overhaul his staff, and it is happening but not by choice. Hopefully, someone will come calling for defensive coordinator Dan Brown.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bulldogs' 3rd Down Efficiency

A big thanks goes out to Brian at MGoBlog for putting together some amazing data and graphs together. Click on the link to play around with graphs to see how other teams fared in their 3rd efficiency in 2005. Here is how the 'Dogs did:(I apologize for the clarity of the graphs, had to reduce the size to fit, for clearer graphs click on the link above)

First: Third down efficiency. The thick line in the center is the NCAA average (e.g., approximately 68% of third and ones were converted last year). There is a second line that represents an individual team's third down efficiency. Where there is a gap between the lines that gap is filled in with either red or green depending on whether it is "good" or "bad". Being above the line is good for offenses--you convert more often. Being above the line is bad for defenses--you are converted upon more often. You want to see a lot of green in these graphs.



Second: Third down distance distribution. Again, the line in the center is the NCAA average and the thinner line is the individual team's. Green is just "above"; red just "below," since there's no clear distinction on good or bad based solely on what side of the line you're on.



Third: the raw numbers. The following graph shows the underlying data used to construct the first two. Each bar represents one yard line. Blue segments are failed conversions. Red segments resulted in first downs.



In plain English, green is good. Besides the offense's great 3rd conversion percentage, there is nothing to write home about. To play around with the graphs and better clarity click here.

The Blog and the Bark Board on SNR 1550

Beginning today at 8:05 am PT, and continuing every Friday, the Fresno State Football Blog and Fresno State's No. 1 fan site, the Bark Board, will be on air with Tony D and the rest of the TSN 1550 gang talking Bulldog football and other Fresno State topics. For those who are unable to get the signal over the air, click here for the live webstream available on their website.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

More Badgers....

Fresno State and Wisconsin signed a 2-for-1 deal back in 2001. The Bulldogs played at Wisconsin in 2001, and return to Madison in 2009. The Badgers are scheduled to play at Bulldog Stadium in 2008. Although, the deal was signed about five years ago, Wisconsin has just released its future schedules through 2010. Fresno State is still on the schedule. What also makes the deal look strong is the fact that the Badgers are scheduled to play at fellow non-BCS schools UNLV and San Diego State in the coming years.

The Bulldogs and Badgers have split their only two meetings, FS won 32-20 in 2001, and UW won 23-21 the following year in the John Thompson Classic in Madison. Many fans were worried since Barry Alvarez retired that the FS-UW series would be cancelled, but many didn't realize Alvarez is still staying on as the Athletic Director.

The Badgers will be the first Big Ten team to play at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State has hosted only a handful of BCS teams in the 25 year history of Bulldog Stadium. Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, and Washington State have visited from the Pac 10 and Baylor from the Big 12. Kansas State and Kansas from the Big 12 are scheduled to visit Bulldog Stadium in 2007 and 2009, respectively. Kansas is a home and home, but Kansas State is a 2-for-1 with Fresno State returning to Manhattan in 2008.

Bulldog fans should not feel down about getting a two-for-one with the Badgers or Wildcats. It is better than the one and done deals that have such a common occurrence in the Pat Hill era. I won't dwell on the former inept Athletic Director, but I expect the football contracts to be a lot better in the future. As well, some BCS teams even settle for 2-for-1 contracts. For instance, Washington State will begin a 2-for-1 arrangement at Wisconsin in 2007.

Settle's Gone, Who's In?

It seems the people of Madison are happy with the hire of former Bulldog running back coach John Settle. He has been a very popular coach where ever he goes. The Wisconsin State Journal has just one thing to say about what Settle brings to the table, he brings an attitude.

Pat Hill originally wanted to bring Settle with him, from Baltimore, back in 1997 when he was first hired at Fresno State, but Settle was unable to get out of his contract. But Settle became the RB coach the next year and coached his first 1,000 yard rusher, former walk-on Jamie Kimbrough. Kimbrough was the first of six 1,000 yard rushers he would eventually mentor. Settle had a 1,000 yard rusher each year, except in 1999 and 2000, including Fresno State record breaker Rodney Davis.

However, in 1999 he had two backs that rushed for over 600 yards apiece, Paris Gaines and Derrick Ward. Ward was even named freshman All-American that season. The 2000 season was a disaster for the Bulldog tailbacks. Gaines was recovering from a season ending knee injury, and Ward struggled to get healthy all season. Little used Josh Levi led team in rushing but failed to rush for over 400 yards.

Gaines returned to post a 1,000 yard season in 2001, but Ward missed that year but was poised to start in 2002. He failed to qualify, and the running back position looked dismal since the only other back with experience, Levi, had left the team that Spring. Settle did his best coaching job, in my opinion, that year. Walk-on redshirt freshman Matt Rivera was the starter in the first game, but eventually gave way to JC transfer Davis. Despite just three weeks of preseason practice, and not playing in the season opener, he burst on to the scene and simply broke the school's season rushing record.

Settle rounded out his career, as a Bulldog assistant, by tutoring three of the school's best running backs, Dwayne Wright, Bryson Sumlin, and Wendell Mathis, all 1,000 yard rushers. Not to mention helping transform Clifton Smith from cornerback into a college running back. Settle will be missed. He had to be the most underrated coach on Hill's staff. He has practically been with Hill since the get go, but has never been given the respect he deserves. Hill has lost three offensive coordinators in his tenure, but only one, Jeff Tedford, of the three was worth a "hill" of beans.

Former offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig left in 2001 and drove the Oregon offense into the ground. The jury is still out on Frank Cignetti, but in my book wasn't too impressive in his four years as the offensive coordinator. Why wasn't Settle considered for the vacant offensive coordinator position after Cignetti left for North Carolina? Was Steve Hagen's hire a sign to Settle that he would always be just a running back coach if he stayed at Fresno State?

But no one has coveted Settle until Barry Alvarez decided to retire and his replacement, Bret Bielema, went looking for the best rb coach available. Settle should fit in perfectly with the Badgers. Hill loves to run a smashmouth attack led by a pounding running game, and what conference is synonymous for playing smashmouth football? The Big Ten, and Wisconsin has had its share of great running backs. What does Settle think of the Badgers' great tailbacks? He just said one name.

"R-o-n D-a-y-n-e." He said with a laugh, mimicking the public address announcer at Badger games when Dayne was carrying the football.

What does Hill do now? He replaced Cignetti with Hagen, who was out of coaching in 2005 after serving as an assistant with the Cleveland Browns in 2004. Hagen was an average college offensive coordinator at best when he was at Cal, but Hill was looking for a long term hire. Hagen, 44, has young children, and has bounced around coaching jobs for the last 15 years. Is Hill look for a running back coach in the same type of situation or is looking for the best coach available?

I would love to see Kelly Skipper come back to Fresno State. Hill has been reluctant to hire any former Bulldogs for his staff. Skipper was a Fresno State assistant for 9 years, and was the running back coach in 1997. Both Skipper and Tedford left the Bulldog program after 97 for jobs in the Pac 10. Tedford became the offensive coordinator at Oregon and Skipper the RB coach at UCLA, where he eventually became the offensive coordinator. Skipper is now coaching running backs at Washington State, but returning to Fresno State would be considered a step down.

As stated above, according to the WSJ, Hill wanted Settle at Fresno State in 97. So Skipper would have never coached under Hill, if Hill would have had his way. But it always Hill's way when it comes the Bulldog football program. Don't get me wrong I like Hill, but I would love to see some former 'Dogs on his staff. By looking at Hill's track record, it would be a cold day in hell before Hill would hire a Jim Sweeney protege. My guess, Hill will hire a RB coach with some NFL experienced, probably affiliated with either the Cleveland Browns or Baltimore Ravens.

Hill's Way or the Highway!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

'Dogs Lose RB Coach

Fresno State running back coach John Settle has accepted a similar position at Wisconsin. Settle joins former offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti as Pat Hill assistants to bolt for BCS schools. Settle was responsible for coaching six 1,000 yard rushers while at Fresno State. Settle was a 1,000 yard rusher in the NFL in 1988 while playing for the Atlanta Falcons, and was a member of the 1991-92 Super Champion Washington Redskins. He was free agent acquisition out of Appalachian State, and became the first free agent in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.

Will the Pats Draft Another 'Dog?

The New England Patriots drafted two former Bulldogs last year, offensive lineman Logan Mankins in the first round and safety James Sanders in the fourth. The Patriots are in need of speedy cover corners, and guess who is Fresno State's top prospect for the 2006 draft, cornerback Richard Marshall.

Marshall decided to skip his senior and enter the NFL draft, just like Sanders did last year. He may get just as lucky as Sanders and become a member of the elite New England franchise. Marshall is projected by many draft experts to be a late first day pick, meaning he would be drafted in the 3rd round at best. Will the Pat's select the former Bulldog cover man in the NFL draft? Well according to's draft coverage, the Pats will have their eye on Marshall at the upcoming NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

The New England Patriots used their initial two selections on players from Fresno State last year. A third, cornerback Richard Marshall, could be next. The team, in need of cover-corners, has spent a lot of time with Marshall lately. The junior expects to run under 4.4-seconds at the combine.

"Bad Dawg": Logan Mankins

On the New England Patriots website, there is a Q and A with former Fresno State Bulldog All-American Logan Mankins. Logan was the stereotypical country boy growing up on a cattle ranch in the foothills of the San Joaquin Valley, but the big city life of New England has not changed him one bit. The former 220 lb walk on tight end has become a starting guard for one of the best franchises in the NFL. Here is just a sample of his down to earth, good ol' boy mentality:

What is your favorite material possession? That's a tough one. Probably my belt buckle from the biggest roping event that I won. They give it out to the first place team. I won it when I was 16 years old.

Mankins is just another example of how an unknown high school talent can become a millionaire playing the game of football with the right coaching.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

2006 Special Teams

returning starter in black, *-redshirt, bold-player to watch

KClint Stitser Jr.*Kyle Zimmerman Jr.*

Stitser was named to the Groza list in 2005 despite playing in just 6 games his first year as a starter. His season ending injury against Idaho was a bigger impact than many had thought at first. Without Stitser, the dynamics of the offensive scheme changed dramatically. The Bulldogs were no longer guaranteed points when inside the 30 yd line. His full recovery is necessary for the Bulldogs to have an excellent kicking game, a Bulldog trademark under Pat Hill and John Baxter. However, it is nice to know there is a capable experienced backup, Zimmerman, that can boot kicks inside of 40 yards, if needed.


PMike Lingua Sr.*Robert Malone Fr.

Lingua has been a steady performer since 2004. He doesn't boot the ball far, but his hang time is unparalleled in the college game. He did shank a few down the stretch last year that really hurt the team, which was very uncharacteristic of him. He should have a good senior, and allow Fr. Robert Malone, at right, to redshirt and assume the starting position in 2007.

Outlook- Good.

KRClifton Smith Jr.*Joe Fernandez Sr.*Shannon Dorsey Jr.*Chastin West Fr.*Lawrence Hood Fr.

Adam Jennings graduation, Richard Marshall's early departure to the NFL and Smith's injury put a huge question mark on the kick returning game. Smith is one of the most exciting players to sport the Bulldog red. He will probably not return until at least late August, and could miss part of the season. Fernandez could fill the void, but who will join him or unseat him? Dorsey, West, and Hood were all excellent return specialist in HS. Dorsey is a straight up runner, not as elusive as Smith. West is a big strong player, and in my opinion would be a worthy KR along side Smith or Fernandez. Hood, like Smith, is very versatile and exciting.

Outlook- Questionable. No proven depth beyond Smith.


Smith has made his mark as PR in just a handful of returns. He has 3 returns for Tds in his short career. Fernandez showed last year against Idaho, he could be a great PR if needed. West and Hood could get a look here if needed.

Outlook- Outstanding.

LSKenny Amendola Jr.*Tyler Clutts Jr.*HJordan Christensen Sr.*

When was the last time you saw the Bulldogs botch a snap and hold on a kick? Often overlooked and taken for granted the LS and H must have precise timing and execution to perform well. The Bulldog special teams are among the best in the country and Amendola and JC are big reasons why.

Outlook- Outstanding.

Monday, February 13, 2006

2006 Defense

returning starter in black, *-redshirt, bold-player to watch

DETyler Clutts Jr.*

Adam McDowell So.*

Ricky Miller Sr.*Wilson Ramos Fr.*Devin Packard Fr.*

Clutts will take over Garrett McIntyre's leadership role on the defensive line. Clutts became a very effective DE towards the end of 2005, and will only get better. McDowell is in the same mold as Clutts but will be hard pressed to get playing time. Miller will be in a heated battle to replace McIntyre at the other DE spot, but should get plenty of playing time in the rotation. Ramos and Packard are very promising redshirts that add valuable depth.

Outlook- Very Good. Plenty of Depth.

DTJason Shirley Jr.*Jon Monga So.*Kenny Avon So.*Mark Roberts Fr.

Shirley is one of the best DTs in Bulldog history. Unfortunately, the talent behind him is not as good. Monga and Avon need to step up their game and be ready to fill in. Roberts could play as true, but Hill would like to redshirt him but that all depends on Monga and Avon.

Outlook- Good. Quality depth could be an issue.

NTLouis Leonard Sr.*Charles Tolbert Jr.*Justin McIntyre So.*Cornell Banks Fr.*

Leonard has not been the stalwart NT that many thought he would be. He is blessed with great size, but has not been as dominant as the player that wore No. 98 before him, Alan Harper. He should have a very good senior year if he stays healthy. Tolbert and McIntyre are both undersized but have great motors. Banks is the future star. He should compete with Tolbert for quality minutes behind Leonard.

Outlook- Decent. Back up size is an issue.

DEMarlin Brisco Sr.*Ikenna Ike So.*Jason Roberts So.*Mike Stuart So.*Nico Herron Fr.

How does a defense replace a player like McIntyre? It is not easy, but I am in the minority when I say his graduation is a blessing in disguise. He was a better DT than he was a DE, but that meant taking out one of the buffet busters from the lineup. Hill has an abundance of talent coming in at DE to help ease the loss of McIntyre's presence on the outside. Brisco is the veteran but he must fend off the young talent in spring if he wants to start. Ike might make the switch to DT in passing situations, similar to what McIntyre did last year. Roberts and Stuart will be good DEs for the next three years. Stuart will be the favorite to replace McIntyre, but Roberts will see plenty of action, as well. Herron is likely to make the move to DE, but could play LB or redshirt.

Outlook- Promising. Very good talent.

WLBMarcus Riley Jr.*Ahijah Lane Jr.*Quaadir Brown So.

Riley's return from injury is still in doubt. The Bulldogs can not afford to lose him for any part of the season. Lane has yet to prove he is nothing more than a great pass rusher. If the Bulldogs ran a 3-4, Lane would be the perfect rover. Brown came on at the end of the year, and has great speed.

Outlook-Great. But can't afford to lose Riley.

MLBDwayne Andrews Sr.*Robert Schenck Fr.Christian Carleson Jr.*Todd Chisom Fr.*

Andrews might be in for the battle of his life, if Schenck adjusts to the college game quick enough. Andrews, 6-0 240, is the incumbent and the leader of the defense, but does not match up physically with Schenck, 6-2 235. However, if Schenck does not adjust well, Chisom will have to step up. Chisom, like Schenck, ran track in HS, and adds much needed speed to the position. Carlson is the experienced back up, but will struggle to compete with the younger talent.

Outlook- Decent. Depth is a concern.

SLBAlan Goodwin Sr.*Ryan McKinley So.*Isaac Kinter Fr.*Reynard Camp Fr.*

Goodwin might not start his senior year. Fresno State struggled immensely at LB during its 4 game losing streak, and I would presume no LB position is safe come spring. McKinely played sparingly last year, but is not the answer. Kinter or Brown have the speed necessary to shore up the run defense. I will not be surprised to see Kinter starting at the SLB spot in the Fall. Camp could play either of the LB spots.

Outlook- Questionable. Needs improvement.

CBMarcus McCauley Sr.*Lawrence Hood Fr.Jason Crawley Fr.*Marlin Moore Fr.*

Many fans are moaning over the early departure of Richard Marshall, but the Bulldogs' best CB is still on campus. Marshall might have been faster and got media attention, but McCauley is bigger, can blanket a receiver and is a very punishing hitter. As long as he is matched up against the opposing teams' best receiver the 'Dogs should be fine. Hood is coming off of a grayshirt, but will immediately compete for the Marshall's vacant spot. Crawley is listed as WR, but he did play DB his senior of HS. He has excellent size, 6-2 170, and could make the transition to CB. Moore is listed as an athlete, but more than likely will play DB.

Outlook- Outstanding. But no proven depth.

CBElgin Simmons Sr.*Damon Jenkins Jr.*Damion Owens Fr.Moore

Simmons will be listed atop the depth chart come spring. The senior will be neck and neck with prep all-star Jenkins, who has yet to live up to the hype. Owens could make a impact as a true freshman. Crawley, Hood and Moore will compete for this spot in spring, too.

Outlook- Down. Someone needs to step up.

SSJosh Sherley Sr.*Moses Harris Fr.*Moore

Sherley is a big hitter, but is over aggressiveness was exposed later in the year. He needs to have a good spring or face the possibility of losing his starting spot to Harris. Harris could be next in line on a list of great Bulldog safeties. Moore could find a home at SS, as well.

Outlook- Questionable. Needs a playmaker.

FSVince Mays Sr.*Jake Jorde So.*Marvin Haynes Fr.*

Mays has one year left to prove his 4 star rating coming out of HS in 2002. He was unable to beat out Sherley for SS after Sanders left early for the NFL last year. Now, as the heir apparent to Tyrone Culver at FS, he has big shoes to fill. There is no doubting his talent, but he has yet to put the whole package together. If Mays falters there is very little experience behind him. Jorde moved over from WR last year, and could play SS or FS in a reserve role. Haynes is a very promising talent, but will benefit with one year as a reserve.

Outlook- Down. Mays needs to step up.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

2006 Bulldog Offense

returning starter in black, *-redshirt, bold-player to watch

QBTom Brandstater So.*/Sean Norton So. *

Jordan Christensen Sr.*

Ryan Colburn Fr.

For the first time since the mid-1990's there will be a battle in spring for the starting quarterback position. Brandstater has been anoited since 2004 as the next great Bulldog quarterback, when many fans argued for him to get some playing time as a true freshman. Norton is the program's first Parade All-American, although undersized, has the arm, grit and intangibles that can't be taught. Paul Pinegar's experience will be hard to replace, but both the new quarterbacks have a far better upside. Brandstater is comparable to Pinegar physically, but with a much stronger arm. Norton would have been the most sought after quarterback in America after high school if he was just a couple inches taller. He is very elusive in the pocket, and is a playmaker. Colburn has been compared to former quarterback David Carr, same size and similar arm but will most likely redshirt. Christiansen will be a 5th year senior, and his experience will give the 'Dogs another capable quarterback in new offensive coordinator Steve Hagen's offense.

Outlook- Promising. Better talent, but less experience.

RBDwayne Wright Jr.*Clifton Smith Jr.*Shannon Dorsey Jr.*Kreig Peters So.*Lonyae Miller Fr.

The biggest question mark for the 2006 offense will be tailback. There is no question about talent or experience but durability. Bryson Sumlin and Wendell Mathis formed the best tailback combo in Fresno State history since Ron Rivers and Anthony Daigle. Both were tough durable backs that combined for nearly 4,000 yards rushing in two years. Wright and Smith are returning from season ending knee injuries, and in Wright's case it has been two seasons away from football. Both are on track to return for the fall, but nothing is 100%. Wright should be healthy for spring ball, but needs to get back into football shape. Smith more than likely will miss spring ball, and could miss all or most of preseason practice come August. Dorsey and Peters will probably get a majority of the snaps in the spring. Dorsey, as well, has had numerous injuries in his two years. Dorsey missed most of 2004 and 05 with injuries, but could be the starter come September. Incoming freshman Lonyae Miller has a good chance to play as a true. Depending how he adjusts to the college game, Miller will compete for the playing time as the second or third back.

Outlook- Good. Questionable durability, but added depth.

FBRoshon Vercher Sr.*Nate Adams Jr.*Kyle Richard So.*Frank Padilla Fr.

The fullback position was reborn in 2002 under former offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti's offense. Prior to that the Bulldogs used a second tight end or H-Back. However, it was not until 2003 that Fresno State had a "true" fullback in Vercher. Now a senior, he has become a vital part of the offense, but that all could change depending on what scheme Hagen will use on offense. Adams was lost last year to a season ending injury. If 100%, he and Vercher are almost interchangeable. Richard is a capable blocking back, but lacks experience. Padilla grayshirted last year, and may redshirt this year, but is the prototypical fullback but with better speed.

Outlook- Big Improvement. Best FB depth since the early 90s.

TEBear Pacoe So.*Jesus Tapia Jr.*Drew Lubinsky So.*Maurice Graham Fr.

The tight ends were not used much under Cignetti, hopefully that will change. The Bulldogs lose their top pass catching threat, Devyn McDonald, but Pascoe , Tapia and Lubnisky are all bigger targets. Pascoe showed his versatility in the Liberty Bowl as the lead blocker in the I and offset formations. This could be a real strength in Hagen's offense. Graham, 6-4 300, is a big target, but will probably redshirt.

Outlook- Improvement. Good size and versatility.

WRPaul Williams Sr.*Jaron Fairman Sr.*Seji Arjuotutu Fr.*

Williams is easily the best WR in the WAC and among the best on the West Coast. He will create matchup problems for just about any team on the Bulldog's schedule. Thus, opening the doors for the other guys to step up. Fairman has showed flashes of brilliance in his three year years. With a wide-open offense he could catch 40 balls. He is a good route runner, similar to DeAndre Gilbert, but a lot faster. Arjuotutu will be a future star, think Bernard Berrian.

Outlook-Great. Williams is a legit all-American candidate.

WRJoe Fernandez Sr.*Kevin Ciccone So.*Chastin West Fr.*Jason Crawley Fr.*

Fernandez has been Fresno State's leading receiver for the last two years. Williams should get most of the attention from opposing defenses, allowing Fernandez to work against man-to-man coverage. Ciccone is a great possession receiver. He is not as fast or big as the rest but has grit and is not afraid to go over the middle. Ciccone has to establish himself as the 4th option and the experienced leader for 2007. West is a big strong target, but will be hard pressed to find playing time with a such a deep group. Crawley will battle for the 4th and 5th spot on the depth chart.

Outlook- Experienced. Fernandez will have at least 60 receptions on the year.

CKyle Young Sr.*Robin Kezerian Sr.*Cameron Harris So.*Joe Bernardi Fr.

Young is the best center in America, hands down, or at least the best pro-prospect, like that really makes a difference when grading a center. Young will anchor a very deep line, and has a good back up in Robin Kezerian. Kezerian will back up both guard spots, giving the Bulldogs tremendous versatility. Young is considered the best center in Fresno State history, but grayshirt Joe Bernardi could take that title away in the coming years. Bernardi was the best offensive lineman prospect out of Arizona in 2005. His lack of size scared away most bigger schools, but Hill landed the future anchor of the offensive line. He could play as a true, but will probably redshirt and be a 4 year starter like Young. Harris could back up Young, if Kezerian plays mostly guard and Bernardi redshirts.

Outlook- Best in America.

RGRyan Wendell Jr.KezerianRichard Pacheco So.Pierce Masse Fr.*

Wendell has not stopped since taking over for Cole Popovich in 2004 as a true freshman. The undersized but ferocious guard uses his quickness to his advantage, and has become one of the best guards in the West. Hill thought so highly of Pacheco he decided to play the true freshman, instead of redshirting him. He can play every position on the line, but will probably back up RG in 06. Pacheco could move over to right tackle, where I think he could be the future replacement for senior Chris Denham. Masse's progress will allow Pacheco to make the move to right tackle.

Outlook- Outstanding. Lots of young talent.

LGCole Popovich So.*KezerianChris Piligian Jr.*

Popovich and Wendell form the best guard duo in the West, and maybe the nation. Popovich possesses the same intensity as former 1st round pick Logan Mankins. Popovich, Wendell, and Young give the Bulldogs their best interior line ever. Piligian is a very big guard at 6-6 255. He would be better suited at RT where Fresno State will lack experience depth because of the graduation and early departure of Adam Messick.

Outlook- Outstanding.

RTChris Denham Sr.*PachecoJames Meeks Fr.*

Denham is as durable as they come. If he was just a tad heavier he would be mentioned in the same breath as Logan Mankins. He should come into his own his senior year, and could very well be a first day NFL pick when it is all said and done. Depending on who wins the quarterback derby, Denham might have the added responsibility of protecting the blind side of Norton. Messick's departure leaves a hole behind Denham. Meeks will be the next great tackle under Hill. He moves incredibly well for being 6-5 260, and can play either left or right tackle. Despite Meeks' upside, Pacheco or Piligian will be better suited to back up Denham in 06 in the event of an injury.

Outlook- Very Good. Depth may be a concern.

LTJames Paulk Jr.Bobby Lepori So.*John Guevara So.*

This is truly the wildcard position. Dartangon Shack was better suited to play guard, but filled in just fine at left tackle in 03 and 05 in place of Mankins. However, Paulk could make a good Bulldog offensive line into a great offensive line. Paulk has missed a year of playing ball to shore up his academics. He will be in Spring practice, and will be penciled in to play left tackle. Lepori is very good young tackle. He played sparingly last year in relief roles, but will be ready to battle Paulk for the Shack's vacant spot. I would not be surprised if Lepori beats out Paulk for the starting spot. Guevara is a very good lineman that has been lost in the shuffle. He is versatile enough to play any spot on the offensive line.

Outlook- Promising. Lack of experience is a concern.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Fresno State vs LSU Completes 2006 Schedule

The Bulldogs completed their 2006 football schedule with a road game at LSU on October 21. The first meeting between the two schools will be a one game deal televised nationally on ESPN tentatively set for 5pm PT.

After about a month of speculation who Fresno State was going to play in their 12th game, it's all over. First there was talk of game at Virginia Tech, then Georgia and Miami were rumored, but nothing ever materialized. Many Bulldog fans were in favor of a game against a California IAA school such as Cal Poly, Sacramento State or UC Davis to open the season. But now, very few are disappointed about a battle in the Bayou at Tiger Stadium, aka "Death Valley".

LSU will be a preseason national title contender, and should be ranked near the top 5 to start the season. Fresno State on the other hand, will be under radar all season unless it beats Oregon on September 9. Many people throughout the nation still remember Fresno State's valiant effort last year against USC in the Coliseum. The Bulldogs will be hard pressed to match that performance playing at night inside Tiger Stadium. A night games in "Death Valley" is one of the best spectacles in all of college football. Very few teams walk into Tiger Stadium and win a night game.

Is this Fresno State's toughest non-conference schedule ever? Hardly, the 2003 schedule with games at No. 12 Tennessee, Oregon State, at No. 1 Oklahoma, and at Colorado State was the toughest by far. This year's slate is still tough but manageable, at Washington and Colorado State are the other non-conference opponents.

I assume Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson will do Fresno State a big favor and schedule New Mexico State as the Bulldogs WAC and season opener Sept. 2. I can not think Pat Hill would have agreed to play at LSU, if Fresno State had to open up against Oregon without a game under his belt.

Playing New Mexico State in the home opener is necessary for many reasons. First and foremost it give the 'Dogs a "tune up" game before the Ducks come to town. Oregon opens up their season at home on Sept. 2 against Stanford. A rookie quarterback making his first start against a top 20 Oregon team with a game under its belt would not be a welcomed sight.

Not to play devil's advocate but there is one negative about playing at LSU on October 21. If Fresno State does play NMSU on Sept. 2, then either FS could play other WAC pasties before and after LSU but have a heavy loaded schedule to end the year, like last year. Or FS could have a trap game before or after LSU but have a somewhat easier slate to end the year. It's just nitpicking but after so many people, including myself, were disgusted how Fresno State ended 2005, it's worth mentioning. Last year I thought this team had the mental make-up to finish out a season, but October just came late last year.

A bulk of the success for this year rests on the shoulders of a rookie quarterback. Either Sean Norton or Tommy Brandstater will be expected to win games and not "throw" them away like Paul Pinegar did. I liked Pinegar, but his last pass as a Bulldog and his first pass in the East-West Shrine game pretty much summed up his career as a Bulldog quarterback in most fans' eyes.

The 2006 Schedule
9/2 New Mexico State*( just guessing this date but it makes sense)
9/9 Oregon
9/16 at Washington
9/23 BYE
9/30 Colorado State
10/21 at LSU
at Utah State*
at Louisiana Tech*
at Boise State*
at San Jose State*

**the WAC schedule should be announced early next week.**

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ranking the Recruits

The 2006 class is Pat Hill's best recruiting class top to bottom, ever. It might not register in the recruiting services national rankings but that is because of two reasons. First, Fresno State did not sign the maximum 25 recruits. Yes, that is stupid to do when a school does not have the scholarships available, but some schools do it just to improve their rankings. Second, Fresno State has a good corps of all-state recruits that flew under the radar and were not rated high by major recruiting services., for instance, defaults its unknown prospects to a 1 star rating. Mike Stuart was a 3 star prospect in 2004 out of high school, but because it was relatively unknown about him transferring back to IA this year, he is listed a 1 star prospect by

This does not mean Fresno State did not get a great class. There are 7 all-state players, 6 from California and one from Nevada. Every need was addressed and then some. Hill and company signed a prospect for every position except quarterback and kicker, two positions Hill said he was not recruiting. There is not a 4 star blue chip in this class, like the much heralded 2002 class with Vincent Mays, but there are more all-state players in this class than any other class in Hill's tenure. Just about every recruiting service differs in each player's particular rating and ranking. These rankings are just my opinion and nothing else. Take them for what they are worth just one guys opinion. *all-state selection

The Cream of the Crop- These are the players that are ready to play IA ball right now. I expect these recruits to play as true freshmen, except for the lone junior college transfer.

1. Mike Stuart DE- He is a redshirt sophomore transfer from a JC, and has three years of eligibility remaining. He will compete with incumbent Tyler Clutts, Jason Roberts, Ricky Miller and Marlon Brisco for a starting spot at defensive end. Stuart is about as good of an immediate replacement Hill could have found for McIntyre.
2. Lonyae Miller RB*- The absolute steal of the class. Miller played only one year at Kaiser HS in Fontana, after spending 3 useless years at Rialto. He will play as true as either the 2nd or 3rd back, especially if either Dwayne Wright or Clifton Smith is not 100%. Miller could play for any Pac 10 school, don't knock his opposition, and remember David Ausberry played at Lemoore.
3. Robert Schenck LB- He may or may not play as a true, it all depends on #4 on this list Nico Herron. Schenck is the heir apparent to Dwayne Andrews at MLB. Was the 3rd fastest prospect at the Fresno State camp last year with a 4.54 40 time on a very slow grass field. The two that were faster were both running backs.
4. Nico Herron MLB*- Second team all-state LB that will more than likely play defensive end at Fresno State. If Herron redshirts, then Schenck will not, or vice versa. But I do not see Herron playing MLB at Fresno for more than one year. McIntyre and Clutts were both LBs that made the move to DE, but neither was as fast as Herron out of high school.
5. Damion Owens CB- The early departure of Richard Marshall to the NFL has opened up a starting spot at cornerback. Elgin Simmons and Damon Jenkins are the veteran backups but Owens is capable of stepping in to start opposite Marcus McCauley.

Future Stars- I expect these prospects to redshirt but be significant contributors their redshirt freshman year.

6. Mark Roberts DT*- The next great defensive tackle. Hill compares him to Jason Stewart, but bigger and taller. There is decent depth at DT with Louis Leonard, Jason Shirley, Charles Tolbert, Jon Monga and Kenny Avon. Roberts will be starting along side Shirley in 2007 as a rFr.
7. Andrew Jackson DE*-Jackson might make the jump over to offense after a redshirt year. He can play either offense or defense at the next level. Most recruiting services project him as a DE, where he is rated the 45th best strongside DE by I think Hill will move him over to offensive where he will eventually replace Chris Denham at right tackle in 2007.
8. Ben Jacobs LB*- Jacobs could move to DE like Herron, where his high school wrestling experience would come in handy in the trenches. Otherwise, he will battle Qaadir Brown, Ahijah Lane and Isaac Kinter to start on the outside opposite Marcus Riley.
9. Jamel Hamler WR- The most intriguing story of the recruiting season so far. Was he coming to Fresno State or was he going to Oregon. With so much depth at WR, Hamler will probably redshirt and will be returning kicks along side Clifton Smith in the 2007. He will work himself into the WR rotation by his sophomore year.
10. Anthony Harding RB- Harding will redshirt unless he beats out Miller in preseason practice. He should be a significant contributor by his sophomore year.
11. Lorne Belle DB- Big things are expected of Bell. Jason Sherley and Mays graduate after this year and Belle will be expected to fill the void at strong safety as a redshirt freshman in 2007, like James Sanders did back in 2002.
12. Taylor Smith DE- Smith is another stud at DE in this year's class. He is rated the 37th best weakside defensive end by After an expected redshirt will compete for playing time in what looks to be a loaded position for the Bulldogs in 2007.
13. Robert Malone P- Malone was not just a punter in high school. He played tight end and defensive and is Riverside's King HS's record holder in the shot-put. He will redshirt and be a solid four-year starter after Mike Lingua graduates.

The Sleepers- These are the studs that went under the radar. Fresno State was very lucky these guys were among the ranks of the unknown. These are the future Logan Mankins and Garrett McIntyres of the world.

14. Barry Wilson WR*- Wilson is the best receiving prospect in the Valley for the class of 2006. Ausberry and Anthony McCoy got the hype because they can play multiple positions, but Wilson will become a better college receiver. He could compete as a true freshman just because of his 6-4 frame, but will probably redshirt. He will be a force for four years, he is already Fresno State's tallest receiver.
15. A.J. Jefferson CB- Jefferson is raw but talented prospect. Hill compares him to McCauley, I agree completely. Whether he pans out, remains to be seen.
16. Ken Wiggins OL- The 6' 7 giant has the potential to be the best tackle ever at Fresno State. He is very light on his feet, and moves well. Hill has gone to a smaller, faster line the last two years, so I would not be surprised to see Wiggins eventually becoming a very good TE.

The Projects- These guys will have to wait their turn because of the talent on the depth charts that are above them. I expect these 3 Fresno area recruits to grayshirt. These players might make position change at the next level, and need the added time to bulk up.

17. Charlie Robbins OL*- Robbins is only a project because I can honestly see him playing defensive tackle. He is a wrestler, and at 6-2 270, imagine him if he puts on another 20-30 lbs. There is no immediate need on the offensive line, so I can see him grayshirting but being a significant contributor as a true in 2007.
18. Will Smith LB- After a couple of years in the program, this track star could be a very scary menace lining up at WLB. He is already fast, but with some added bulk he could become a very dangerous run stopper.
19. Kenny Hedrington RB- Hedrington needs to find a place on this football team. There is a lot of bigger and stronger RBs in front of him, and I hope he does not get discouraged. Hedrington could fill the role of Clifton Smith, but might have to wait until 2008 to get his chance. There is the possibility of him moving over to defense, like Lane did in 2003.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Official List: 19 Sign LOIs

Those in Red have signed LOI. Their profiles..

Name Pos Ht Wt 40time Hometown (Stars)
Lorne Bell LB 5-10 197 4.88 Simi Valley, CA (2)
Jamel Hamler WR 6-1 185 4.6 San Leandro, CA (2)
Anthony Harding RB 6-0 202 4.6 Turlock, CA (3)
Kenny Hedrington RB 5-10 190 Fresno, CA (2)
Nico Herron LB 6-2 222 4.9 San Leandro, CA (3)
Andrew Jackson DE 6-5 237 5.24 Grass Valley, CA (3)
Ben Jacobs LB 6-3 225 4.83 Las Vegas, NV (2)
A.J. Jefferson CB 6-1 175 Bakersfield, CA (2)
Robert Malone TE/DE/P 6-2 225 Riverside, CA (2)
Lonyae Miller RB 5-11 205 4.5 Fontana, CA (3)
Damion Owens DB 5-11 180 4.99 San Leandro, CA (3)
Charlie Robbins OL 6-2 265 5.4 Fresno, CA (2)
Mark Roberts DT 6-2 275 4.8 Modesto, CA (2)
Robert Schenck LB 6-3 235 4.7 San Marcos, CA (3)
Taylor Smith DE 6-2 224 4.84 Clovis, CA (3)
Will Smith LB 6-3 215 Fresno, CA (2)
Micheal Stuart DE 6-4 245 Westlake, CA (JC)
Ken Wiggins OL 6-6 265 5.6 Elk Grove, CA (2)
Barry Wilson WR 6-4 185 Tulare, CA (2)

Stuart is the mystery recruit and the gem of the bunch.

Michael Stuart, Defensive End, 6-4, 245, Westlake, Calif. (Moorpark College) A defensive standout at Moorpark College joins the Bulldogs for his sophomore season ... lined up all over the field for Moorpark, playing on both sides of the ball ... returned a fumble 43-yards for a touchdown against Long Beach City College ... a highly-touted recruit out of high school, redshirted in 2004 for USC ... named as an All-CIF Southern Section first-team member and was the all-CIF Division IV Offensive Player of the Year ... he had 75 receptions for 1,279 yards (17.1 avg.) with 18 TDs on offense and 95 tackles, 13 sacks and 4 forced fumbles on defense as a senior wide receiver and defensive lineman ... he also played basketball at Westlake High School ... coached by Jim Bittner at Moorpark ... "Mike is a very outstanding defensive lineman. He has great quickness and speed. I think that he should help Fresno State immediately in terms of a pass rush. He's definitely an impact player." Hill on Stuart: "Could be a big part of the 2006 defensive line. He's an outstanding player who signed with USC out if high school in 2004. We feel fortunate to have an outstanding player and young man like Mike in our program."

I saw Stuart play against Hart HS and he was a stud. That game featured 3 future Bulldogs, Stuart for Westlake, Sean Norton and Kevin Ciccone from Hart. The game is often replayed on FCS as a high school classic from the Fall of 2003.