Tuesday, March 07, 2006

5 Questions for Spring

1. Will the new offensive assistants mesh well?

Yes, but the last time Pat Hill had to replace for than one offensive assistant, Fresno State finished 5-6 including a 1-5 start back in 1998. The Bulldogs talent level is much better now, but Hill has to break in three new offensive assistants, offensive line coach, running back coach, and offensive coordinator.

Derek Frazier was a former Bulldog graduate assistant that worked with the offensive line. He is familiar with the scheme and the veteran players. His hiring was a no-brainer; the Bulldogs O line will not miss a beat, and will still be the premier unit in the WAC.

Tim Skipper’s was a college middle linebacker, under Hill, and a defensive coordinator at Sacramento State last year. But his father and brother are great pro and college running back coaches, respectively. With both Bryson Sumlin and Wendell Mathis leaving, the transition for Skipper will be tough if no clear cut, healthy back emerges in spring practice.

Steve Hagen has said Fresno State will be an “attack offense”, but Hill has been synonymous with running a conservative scheme. Something has to give. Under Andy Ludwig the offense used a single back multiple offense that utilized an H-back since there was little or no fullback depth. Under Frank Cignetti the fullback was brought back into the lineup, but tight end production decreased. Hagan ran a high-octane offense in the early to mid nineties at Nevada and UNLV, but a pedestrian one at Cal in the late nineties. What scheme will he run in 2006?

2. Is Dwayne Wright 100%?

Yes. Wright could have played last year, but was held out because he was not football ready, per se. The extra time makes him truly 100%, but it remains to be seen if he can pick up where he left off nearly two years ago.

3. Who will be the starting quarterback?

It is anybody’s’ guess. Sean Norton is the underdog. Ryan Colburn is the grayshirt that wowed the coaches during bowl practice. Tom Brandstater has been the heir apparent since 2004. Pat Hill has said it will be an open competition between the three, but it is Brandstater’s job to lose.

4. Who will take over Garrett McIntyre?

Depends, on what position one is speaking of. McIntyre was a better defensive tackle than he was a defensive end. Jason Shirley will now be able to occupy the middle with Louis Leonard. Former Pac 10 recruits Jason Roberts and Mike Stuart give the Bulldogs great size and speed, McIntyre lacked at defensive end. But do they have the motor that never quits? Someone has to pick the intensity and leadership McIntyre brought to the table, and Tyler Clutts just might be the one to fill the void.

5. Who will win the CB job opposite Marcus McCauley?

Lawrence Hood. Damon Jenkins has yet to wow anyone since arriving as a hot-shot recruit from De La Salle in 2003. Experience senior Elgin Simmons lacks the size and speed to be an effective starting cornerback. That leaves a host of young prospects with a shot to start along side McCauley. Hood is the best of that bunch and probably best young cornerback prospect since Richard Marshall.


BdogPrideValleyWide said...

Great piece mdg, many valid points. I have a feeling we will field the most raw talent ever asembled under coach Hill. Although right now it seems we're lacking true leadership at some key skill positions, Im sure we'll come away with some leadership after spring ball.

Anonymous said...

What about Clifton Smith? Will he be back next season?

gofsudogs2006 said...

Clifton will be back but the question of his health will be a major concern. He is not supposed to be part of the spring drills and apparently will not be completely healed until the July-August time frame. The best we as bulldog fans can hope for is a Dwayne Wright back 100% and Clifton Smith back just in time for the season. It looks as if Lonyae Miller might not redshirt his freshman year either. If any one rb goes down we will need Miller to step in immediately, a tough task for a true Freshman but if anyone has seen him he is definitely the guy you want to attempt this.

My major concern is qb, as we have two qb's who can start but the buzz i get is Norton is the better leader. How that will translate when football begins no one knows, but here is hoping the competition is truly "open". I know Hill likes to stick with his favorites and Brandstater was the #2 last season. However, he played rarely and has such a small edge over Norton that it should be a good competition.

mdg said...

Like gofsudogs2006 said, Clifton will not be ready to compete during spring drills. His recovery seems to be going ok, but probably will not be able to pratice to at least August. He may even miss part of the season.

Wright's return is far more important. Smith was never going to be an every down back, but more of a "slash" type player. Miller will not be a part of the team until preseason practice, so Shannon Dorsey needs to have a very good spring.

gofsudogs2006 said...

Does it scare anyone else that all three rb's (aside Miller) are injury plagued? I mean Dorsey has been hurt basically his entire time in a Bulldog uniform. Smith is a slasher, but how affected will he be by that injury, it was a major injury after all. Wright is a bruiser but at the same time it has been two years since he was last competitive. i dont doubt the skills of these players but i do not think our rb situation is where we would like it to be. We need lightning in a bottle to hit like it did with davis coming out of nowhere to break the FSU single season rushing record. Dont you think our rb corp is a bit hobbled to say the least? Just wondering.

mdg said...

Agree, tailback is the biggest question mark. I don't see any "lightning in a bottle" back per se, but Dorsey could surprise. Most of his injuries have been ticky tack that most tailbacks could play through if needed. He will be first or second on the depth chart for spring.