Wednesday, May 31, 2006
At the starting of the season Fresno State will sell out both games against Nevada and Oregon. If we win at Washington and are 3-0 we will sell out Colorado State. However, say Fresno loses on the road to Washington. Do you think there is a chance in hell Colorado State will be sold out? The answer is an emphatic no. There is no way the fans of this city will support a team that has lost a game. These fans that will not support a team that loses far less than they win are the same fans that push for stadium expansion, a new scoreboard, and an entrance into a BCS level conference. Fresno will never become an elite team without the fans. When you turn on an SEC game on Saturday afternoon on that beautiful HDTV what is one the first things you notice? Every single SEC game is sold out regardless of who is playing. When Georgia and Florida play they actually play at a neutral site yearly and split the stadium down the middle having no problems filling it up. That is how the Fresno State-Boise State series should be. No I don't think the game should be played at a neutral site but I do think the game should be sold out yearly without a doubt. Year after year I go to the Bark Board and I read these asinine predictions of Fresno State going undefeated and playing in a BCS bowl. Why do Bulldog fans have such expectations at this point with respect to the football program? Have the Bulldogs finished in the top 20 one time since the inception of the BCS? Then why is it that fans expect undefeated year after year? When is the last time Fresno State went undefeated? They never have since moving to the WAC so why is it expected that they must do this in order to satisfy the fans. Why can we not allow the Bulldogs to build and become something much larger in time? I realize the desire is to be the best right now, but we are headed in the right direction. Give this team some time and they will hit the peak we are all hoping for. With the addition of a fifth BCS game there is an even better chance for the Dogs to play in a BCS game in the future, but be patient and support the Dogs.
Lastly we finished the season last year at home against La. Tech. We had a whopping thirty-six thousand fans at that game. The WAC title was on the line and all we could do was put thirty-six thousand fans in the seats? Don't give me the excuse that the game was on the same night as High School football. High school football does not compare to Fresno State football with respect to the stadium and excitement levels. We should never have fewer than forty thousand fans in that stadium regardless of whom we play. I am willing to bet that during our games vs. both Idaho and New Mexico State we will not sell out the games because of who those teams are. BCS teams do not have that problem and will fill the stadiums without a problem regardless of who they play. Do the math; it only takes five percent of Fresno to fill the stadium so support Fresno State. Get out there and watch the damn games, they are not expensive. The AD even gave us 2:00 pm games this season to coordinate with those coming from out of town. There is no reason for lack of fan support even if we do lose three or four games this season. Teams lose, it happens. I am asking our fans to support Fresno State regardless of what happens. I will be at every home game and MDG and I are heading to LSU for the game down in the bayou. I don't care what our record is; it's still Fresno State football. If ever there is a time where you wonder what happened to Fresno State and why they are not in the top 25 just remember the pre pat Hill days and maybe just maybe you will realize how much better off we are today than we ever have been before. -NSC
Guest blogger NSC will give his insight on the 'Dogs throughout the year.
This year Lindy's picks the 'Dogs to finish 4th in the conference, the lowest predicted finish by Lindys since 1998, the last year before the WAC split. They also rank FS No. 54 in the nation. Nevada is ranked No. 39, Boise State is No. 43 and Hawaii is No. 52. Exactly, it doesn't make sense. FS returns 8 starters on each side of the ball, second most behind Boise State in the WAC, but still are underrated because of a four game losing streak and loss of a few key starters. It is better this way, FS always is best viewed as the underdog.
Surprisingly, Lindy's didn't even pick Boise State to win the WAC. The Broncos have won the WAC four years in a row, and have only lost three WAC games in their five years of being a member of the conference. More puzzling is the headline Lindy's uses in its WAC preview: At Long Last, Boise Not A League Lock. The preview goes to say picking BSU to win its fifth straight WAC title is about as risky as putting your money in oil futures or Google stock.
If you have never read any of Lindy's previews, are not college football buffs or just can't remember. You wouldn't realize Lindy's has never picked Boise State to win the WAC title. Since the Mountain West broke apart from the WAC in 1999, Lindys has picked the 'Dogs to win five of the seven titles. Only in 2000 and 2003, FS was not pegged to win it. Lindy's chose TCU and Hawaii, respectively, to win the WAC those years.
This year Lindy's goes with the trendy pick, Nevada. So where does Lindy's get off by saying Boise is at long last not a lock. They have never picked the Broncos, if anything, it should read: "At Long Last, Fresno Not A League Lock".
Lindy's predicted order of finish for the WAC:
2. Boise State
4. Fresno State
5. Louisiana Tech
6. Utah State
7. San Jose State
9. New Mexico State
Five Bulldogs were named to Lindy's All-WAC first team: Paul Williams, Kyle Young, Tyler Clutts, Dwayne Andrews and Marcus McCauley. Only Louis Leonard was named to the second team. In their national ratings Young is rated the third best center in the nation, ranking only behind West Virginia's Dan Mozes and USC's Ryan Kalil. I guess the writers failed to watch last year's USC-FS game. Young was the best center on the field and probably the best offensive line prospect in the game. Williams was rated by Lindy's as the 24th best WR in nation and McCauley the 17th best cornerback.
I wouldn't pay too much attention to the all-WAC team or the national ratings. Lindy's names San Jose State Yonus Davis and New Mexico State's Justin Buries as its first team all-WAC running backs. I was not expecting Lindy's to name FS's Dwayne Wright, since he has missed the last two years, but what about Nevada's Robert Hubbard. He along with Louisiana Tech's Freddie Franklin and Davis were the only WAC backs to rush for over 100 yards against Fresno State last season. And FS's run defense was the best in the conference last year. Hubbard and Franklin were named to the second team.
Another puzzling omission from the Lindy's team is Nevada'a quarterback Jeff Rowe. Lindy's named Hawaii's Colt Brennan to the first team and Boise State's Jared Zabransky to the second. In the tidbit "good news" they mention the defending champs return seven offensive starters, including QB Jeff Rowe. But didn't name him to the first or second team? Brennan is arguably the best QB in the WAC, but Zabransky was awful last year, and was highly overrated as a sophomore two years ago. He is not the second best quarterback in this league. Especially, if you believe Nevada will win the WAC. Then you must believe Rowe is among the two best quarterbacks in the league. Then again that is wrong with most preseason preview magazines. One writer writes the previews and another, or group of them, pick the all conference teams.
But the funniest list of all is Lindy's Top 10 NFL Talent. Young in ranked No. 1 and Williams is No. 2, that's fine. However, McCauley is ranked No. 7. Maybe if Lindy's was predicting his overall position in next year's draft, No. 7 would have made sense but the 7th best NFL prospect in the WAC. McCauley is the best NFL prospect on the Bulldogs roster, and after running a 4.31 forty last month he is considered a top 10 NFL pick by some heading into this year. Of the four players ranked ahead of him only one has a chance to get drafted in the first round, Hawaii's guard Samson Satele. The other three Brennan, Rowe and Utah State's WR Kevin Robinson are marginal late first day NFL picks at best. Brennan will get drafted but setting records in the run-n-shoot doesn't exactly wow NFL scouts. Rowe has the prototypical height but the 'pistol' offense is not exactly a pro-style offense. Robinson is a return man/wide receiver. If he is drafted it will be as a return man not wide receiver.
Now, you may ask why I wasted 6.99 on the Lindy's preview. It's because I am a college football junkie. I usually buy Athlon's first but Lindy's was the first to hit the newsstands this year. Next I will buy the Sporting News and Phil Steele. That will probably be the only three I will pick up this year, and I expect all three to be down on the 'Dogs. I know TSN has picked FS to finish second, and that makes perfect sense. But a fourth place finish? Well, that is where FS finished last year. So maybe I shouldn't be too hard on Lindy's predictions. Nah, they still suck.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
If the point is to get the word out about Bulldog football, how about billboards, newspaper ads, and banner ads on the website. The athletic department is one week into their 100 days event and there has yet to be one "exclusive" article.
Why don't they profile a Bulldog player each day? How hard is to do a Q&A with a player? Have the players answer the same five to ten questions and each day post a different player's response. I would much rather know what Richard "Oso" Pacheco's favorite food or favorite movie is than how much I have to spend at Bulldog Shop to get a Timeout bobblehead. Honestly, what am I going to spend $75 dollars on at the Bulldog Shop? The Shop has little or no football apparel. The football stuff supposedly will be in by June 1.
I can head over to Champs Sports, today, and buy a No. 13 or No. 32 football jersey or pick up any of the immense amount of Bulldog T-Shirts they carry for the bargain price of 2 for $20. And how come I can never find a Fresno State pennant? I found one of all places at the college store at Pier 39 in San Francisco last summer. I have since bought more online at Proamsports.com for only $3.75.
That is enough bitching; many fans already know what a crappy selection of Bulldog merchandise the Bulldog Shop carries. There is no need to beat a dead horse. Let’s get back to the task at hand, more info on Bulldog football. If Fresno State is ever going to reach the pinnacles of football like that of the Midwest or the South, it has to be talked about 365 days a year, not just a 100.
The preseason magazines will be hitting newsstands this week and next. Most will peg the Bulldogs to finish below the top spot in the WAC, and will downplay the recruiting class, despite the 7 all-state players. But the hardcore Bulldog fans know that this year's team has a boatload of talent, and a stellar recruiting class. The reason the masses don't know this is because gobulldogs.com doesn't keep its fans informed. The Spring Prospectus is not even on the site nor is a "correct" roster. There is no freakin post spring depth chart, and the player and coaches' profiles need to be updated.
No wonder the masses have no freakin clue what is going on. When Pat Hill made his significant announcement, Bulldog fans from all over the world were surfing the web for the news. Did gobulldogs.com release a statement directly following the announcement? No freakin way! Aaron (Bark Board Administrator) called me from Atlanta for the heads up. I gave him the info and he posted on the Bark Board within 30 minutes of the announcement. Real fans go to the Bark Board for all the latest up to date info. That is great for Aaron, but the average fan doesn't know about the Bark Board or realize it is free to read and post your opinions on the message boards. The average fan goes to gobulldogs.com and rereads the same material that has been posted for the past 3 months.
My blog is in its infancy, and I have gotten my share of emails of people telling they enjoy my blog and have made it their center for all their Bulldog football info. I thank you for the kind words, and will continue to do my best.
I created the blog because I got so sick and tired of looking for info and news about Bulldog football. And I knew there had to be others in the same boat. When I finally had the time, I put it together and it has grown a lot bigger than I ever thought it would be. I have worked with Aaron, and Brad at the redwavereport, to promote Bulldog football heavily. I would hate to think what fans would have to do for their Bulldog fix if our three sites didn't exist. Oh wait, I remember, search gobulldogs.com, read the Fresno Bee and watch whatever lame story the local news decides to run. This is no offense to David White or any particular sportscaster, but honestly these guys don't have or get the time to give the scoop.
When football season rolls around Neil Coppola will help me out with team breakdowns, previews and analysis, but if anyone wants to break down the 2006 team during the summer downtime drop me a line. I am looking for a good concise breakdown and analysis. In other words you better know your shit. I don't want any of the 'Dogs are going to run the table and go to the BCS garbage. If you think that, I want to know why. I want to know why you think FS will beat Oregon. I want to know how FS will be able to move the ball on LSU. I want to know how FS will win in Boise. I want to know how FS will win the WAC this year, when it hasn't been able to do it the last 6 years.
If you are a bit skeptical, then tell me why. Why will the 'Dogs suck? And don't spout off about the new quarterback either. That is a tired and lame excuse. Was Paul Pinegar a gunslinger? No and he didn't do too badly. Will it be the schedule? Will it be durability at tailback? Will it be the new offense? Will it be the defense? Give me the lowdown.
I am just a fan like you; I am not an insider (although I do have my sources). I know there are Bulldog fans out there that bleed more Bulldog red than me, but just don't have the time or resources to post or write a blog. I know because I used to be one of them. I didn't have my "own" internet service provider until 2003 and didn't get my "own" high-speed connection until last year. I didn't even have cable/satellite TV from 2003-2005. I didn't start posting on the Bark Board until last year. I didn't have the time and didn't really care for message boards. But somehow I managed to keep up with the team as much as I could. Now, I have a little bit more time and resources to blog about the 'Dogs and college football.
So in short, I am looking for hardcore fans to send me their .02 about the 2006 season. I will post every one if they meet the criteria mentioned above. If good enough, I could have Aaron post it on the front page of the Bark Board. As well, our partners at 1550SNR will be updating their website and your analysis could make their front page. The idea is get everyone thinking Bulldog football, and frankly gobulldogs.com needs the help.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Patriots Football Weekly is reviewing its 2005 draft class, and for the most part it stands out as a very solid group after one season of play. Two of the cornerstones in New England's 2005 draft are former Bulldogs Logan Mankins and James Sanders.
Mankins made the move to guard in the NFL after playing LT his entire college career. Mankins started every game his rookie year and secured his starting spot for future years. There might not have a more consistent rookie in the NFL last year than Mankins.
Sanders first year was not as great, but that was only due to an ankle injury. He started one game against Denver and looked good in his limited time. He has impressed one person, Patriot Pro Bowl strong safety Rodney Harrison. Sanders will be in a battle to fill Harrison's spot until the injured Pro Bowler is ready to return to the field.
The most efficient passer in the history of the NCAA used to have field days against Fresno State, but someday he may walk the sidelines of Jim Sweeney Field. He single handily defeated Fresno State in 2001, destroyed them in 2002 and pulled the hat trick by beating the 'Dogs again in 2003. Pat Hill passed on the former Elk Grove prep out of high school only to see him set WAC and NCAA records for three years.
Despite all the accolades for the 2003 WAC Offensive Player of the Year, he has been unable to land in the pros. From the NFL to the CFL, Dinwiddie has had no luck. He is still waiting for his shot.
If he doesn't make in the pros he has his education to fall back on. He may consider coaching even at Fresno State?
The degree, Dinwiddie knows, will help him in any post-football future, especially if he opts to go into coaching. His former coaches, Chris Petersen and Dan Hawkins, have talked to him about it. So, too, has Fresno State coach Pat Hill.
Now that would be a site see Ryan Dinwiddie in Bulldog red.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Countdown to 2006 Bulldog Football
I find this 100 days of Bulldog football real interesting because for me Bulldog football is 365 days a year. As many of you already know, I try to post something new everyday. There are days I just get tied up and never get around to it. Then there are other days I just can't find anything really significant to post.
Go back to last summer and there was only the Bark Board available to get your daily Bulldog fix during the offseason. This summer fans not only have the Bark Board, but also the 100 days of football available on gobulldogs.com, Brad's Redwavereport and of course my blog. And the Fresno Bee's David White is also a great source, when the Bee gives him the time and space to write his stuff.
Each one of these sources provides something different:
Gobulldogs.com was once the only place a fan was able to access schedules, roster information and the occasional article. The site has been criticized by fans for being weak and not informative. Hopefully, the 100 days campaign is a sign of things to come.
The Bark Board is and has been the long trusted source for the Bulldog scoop. The message boards are top notch and there is always someone logged on ready to answer even your stupidest question about Bulldog football. As well if you order a Total Access Pass(TAP) not only do you get access to inside Bulldog info but a free subscription to Sports Illustrated for one year.
The Redwavereport is new but Brad provides something different for Bulldog fans. His site is dedicated mostly to recruiting. If recruiting info is what gets you wet then Brad's site is for you. Keep in mind most of the content is premium and you must be member to access it, but there is still some free content.
David White is one of my favorite Fresno State football beat writers. I like reading his stuff and his game breakdowns are top notch. However, he will not be writing anything consistently until probably late July.
The FSFB will always be free but you got to deal with my opinions and thoughts. I will always try to find the obscure information on FS football and add my two cents. Feel free to send me anything you find about Bulldog football, remember I am only one man.
There has not been a better time to be a Bulldog football fan.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Quarterback is the big position Pat Hill will be recruiting this year. He has stated that he is looking for a quarterback that he can grayshirt. One intriguing prospect is Imperial High School's Andrew Ruiz. The 6'1 180 quarterback is not your typical drop back passer running the veer offense for Imperial. He completed just 62 of 98 passes for 1,002 yards with 14 touchdowns and ran for another 127 yds and 4 tds. But he has an accurate arm and very deceptive speed.
He favors hometown San Diego State and the Pac 10's Washington State. Fresno State is among the other schools pursuing Ruiz. He has an open invitation to attend the Bulldog's camp in June along with his high school teammates.
It's just a marketing ploy, but it's a step in the right direction. Hill mentioned that this was the first time in his 10 years that the athletic department has made the effort to promote Bulldog football so early in the season. Starting tomorrow gobulldogs.com will have a new article/story on Bulldog football each day until Sept 1. Also tomorrow the first 100 customers that visit the Bulldog shop will receive a free commemorative T-shirt.
Some notes of interest Hill mentioned today:
*possible games with Georgia or Tennessee for 2007
*Clifton Smith is making good strides in his recovery. He will start running June 1st and making cuts July 1. He should be ready for preseason practice in August. Hill said Clifton is a special kind of athlete and not many would be able to return so soon from his type of injury.
*Players have the next 3 months off. Many are in summer school and participating in voluntary summer drills. They report August 4 for preseason practice.
*3 game ticket packages will also be available for the upcoming season.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The President's Medal winner is selected from the nine undergraduate Dean's Medalists picked from the university's eight schools and colleges of academic discipline and the Division of Student Affairs.
He was an all-WAC academic selection in 2004. He is planning on attending law school and pursuing a career in corporate law.
"Having the top student at Fresno State as a part of our program is a great accomplishment and speaks volumes for Fresno State football," said head football coach Pat Hill who recruited Cooper to Fresno State.
"I'm very proud of Kevin for his accomplishments. He has overcome adversity with a serious football injury but never lost his focus and continued to compete in the class room. Kevin has all of the qualities and characteristics we look to recruit. He is the epitome of a Bulldog football player and I know he will be very successful in his future."
Hell it took me five years to earn my BA and I didn't even have the commintment of playing football under Hill. I tip my hat to Kevin Cooper.
Fresno State Beats USC
Academically! Fresno State's academic strength in the football program was demonstrated in this year's Academic Progress Rate report card released by the NCAA.
This season marks the seventh year of the Rimington Trophy recognizing the most outstanding center in college football and the first as a Regular Member of the National College Football Awards Association(NCFAA).
The last time a Bulldog won a major award(s) was in 2001. That year David Carr brought home the Unitas Trophy, Sammy Baugh Trophy and Pop Warner Award that year.
Former Bulldog linebacker Emanuel(Manny) Sanchez bypassed undrafted free agent contracts from NFL teams for a guaranteed two year deal with the CFL's B.C. Lions.
Sanchez was a former walk on and became a great supporting linebacker in his three years. Unfortunately, many Bulldog fans will remember him for his hapless performance against USC last year and the three games that followed against Nevada, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa. In his defense, he was never a run stopper. Sanchez was at his best in pass defense. The truth is not too many defenders are able to stop Reggie Bush anyways.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
After sitting behind Steve McNair for six years, former Fresno State quarterback Billy Volek looks like he will be the starter for the Titans in the season opener. Volek was Pat Hill's choice to quarterback his first Bulldog team back 1997. Volek was considered not too talented by the previous coaching staff, and some criticized Hill for not signing a JUCO quarterback to battle Volek for the starting spot. Hill is as stubborn as he is loyal, but his loyalty to Volek paid off.
Despite signing a hotshot freshman gunslinger named David Carr in 1997, Hill started Volek for three years. In 1999 Volek set the NCAA record for TD to int ration percentage. He threw 30 tds to only 3 ints.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Fontenot was the fastest Bulldog during his years at Fresno State(2001-2004). He was the only true 4.3 guy in the program, but struggled at tailback his first two years. He made the switch to cornerback, yet injuries and Marshall and McCauley cut his playing time short. He never really logged enough plays to be considered a legitimate NFL draft pick, but the Buffalo Bills saw enough potential in him to sign him as an undrafted free agent in 2005.
He is referred to as the traveling man. Buffalo cut him in the 2005 preseason and he was picked up by Green Bay. He was a member of the Packers practice squad the entire season and played in the season finale. He is playing for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe, as a Packer, this spring and has been very impressive.
Fontenot's success begs the question, is the 2004 Bulldog secondary the best ever? Or just the most talented? The 2004 secondary has had three players drafted(James Sanders 2005, Richard Marshall 2006, Tyrone Culver 2006), two undrafted free agents(Fontenot 2005, Raymond Washington 2006), and a potential top 10 pick(Marcus McCauley 2007). If Sanders had returned for his senior year in 2005, hands down the 2005 secondary probably would have been considered the best ever. When McCauley signs the dotted line next spring it will substantiate the talent Pat Hill has assembled in the defensive backfield the last five years. And lets not forget Josh Sherley and Vince Mays, both were sophomore contributors in 2004 and have the potential to make an NFL roster in 2007.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
If Fresno State can land all five of these players it would be a huge boost for the program's exposure in the North Valley. Hill was able to sign the Bay Area's San Leandro HS's top three players in the 2006 class: Nico Herron, Damion Owens, and Jamel Hamler. He has be able to recruit Valley well, but often loses out on the area's best players to BCS schools. Signing Merced's quintuplet will be a sign that the Valley's best want to stay home to play their college ball for once.
List of 2007 Prospects(*-offered)
Chris Allen RB 5'7 154 4.68 Antioch HS
Ishmam Anderson RB 6'0 230 4.7 McCylmonds HS(Oakland)
Marcus Austin DT 6'3.5 270 Etiwanda HS
Erin Banks LB 6'2 175 4.86 Clovis East HS
John Barnett Jr. RB 5'10 180 4.45 Lakewood HS
David Batts LB 6'1 185 Lynwood HS
Anthony Boyles WR 6'3 185 4.37 Serra HS(Gardena)
Alex Cabatic RB 6'0 220 Clovis East HS
Russell Carr WR 6'3 192 Lugo HS(Chino)
Chris Carter LB 6'2 205 Kaiser HS(Fontana)
James Carter WR 5'11 169 4.46 Canyon Springs HS(Moreno Valley)
Justin Cheadle OL 6'5 240 Bakersfield HS*
Jerrid Holland WR/S 6'0 185 4.55 Battle Mountain HS(NV)
Avery Horn RB 5'10 180 4.5 Hanford HS*
Ryan Matthews ATH 6'0 195 4.55 West HS(Bakersfield)*
Vince Pascoe FB/DT 6'1 230 Exeter HS
Romeo Pellum CB 5'11 165 4.6 Santa Fe HS(Santa Fe Springs)
I list players from various sources. There are others not listed and some on this list that may be incorrect. It is very difficult to confirm these lists so early on. I will update it as the season wears on, and I welcome all input, corrections, updates, and etc.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
If you missed it or just want to see it again, Fox College Sports Pacific(Comcast Digital Ch 415 in Fresno), is replaying the game the rest of May. Tomorrow, May 18, at 3am PT and 9am PT are the earliest replays. Click here to check for the other dates and times.
How come the Bulldogs can't sell tickets in Seattle? How come Fresno State, alone, is not a reason to fork over hundreds of dollars for six Husky home games? I'll tell you why, Fresno State has not reached the point to be considered a "name" team among the college football elite. Maybe if UW fans actually believed their team was good enough to beat Fresno State, among others, the Huskies could sell tickets.
Ty Willingham can get this program rolling again and a win over Fresno State just may be hump he has to get over. The opener against San Jose State will be a cakewalk for the Huskies, but then comes games at Oklahoma and home vs FS. The Sooners will beat UW handily, but I honestly think UW has a good shot to upset the 'Dogs.
A win over FS is just what the Huskies need. Is this correct? UW may need a win over little ol' Fresno State to get their program back on track? I believe so. If UW loses to Oklahoma, bad, and then gets their arse handed to them by FS, the season is a loss. The seven games after FS are against arguable the seven best teams in the Pac 10 and four of them are on the road.
In a year where FS is not good enough to help UW sell season tickets, it just might be the "name" team Willingham will have to beat to save his season and maybe his job.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
ESPN had a very thorough analysis from saying Vince Mays should have a great season to speculating that AJ Jefferson or Damion Owens might have to replace Richard Marshall at cornerback. ESPN wasn't too worried about the 'Dogs losing Mathis and Bryson Sumlin either. They know Dwayne Wright had a good spring and is bigger, stronger and better than any running backs FS had on the field last year. And don't forget about Clifton Smith.
ESPN also knows the quarterbacks did not have the best spring, but August will determine who will start the opener. They believe, like most Bulldog fans, that Brandstater might win the job by default. Norton has to step up his game the first week of August and Colburn is going to redshirt for sure.
Not to take anything away from Chastin West but the kid is developing a cult-like following. He had a great spring but so did the other redshirt freshman receivers, Jason Crawley and Seyi Ajirotutu. West had a great spring game, Ajirotutu got hurt in Visalia and Crawley didn't have a great spring game. But anyone who saw any part of spring practice new Crawley was the most impressive overall receiver on more than one occasion.
ESPN was also big on Jason Roberts and Trevor Shamblee, but failed to mention Quaadir Brown. Who, in my opinion, had a great spring and could ease the pain if Marcus Riley is unable to play this year at WLB. ESPN is worried about replacing McIntyre, but that is something I am not too worried about. I have said it on more than one occasion McIntyre was a better DT than a DE. With Big Mac at DT it meant one of the 300 lb hogs, Jason Shirley and Louis Leonard, in the middle had to sit on the bench and that will not be the case this year. Despite Big Mac's absence, the defensive end position is more talented than in any Pat Hill's years. Former USC DE Mike Stuart comes in fall to further increase the talent and depth.
But who will replace Big Mac's motor and leadership? Don't have to look too far, just to the other end in Tyler Clutts. Clutts had a good spring and will be a monster this season. TSN named him preseason all-WAC, buy he is still very underrated, even among Bulldog fans. Opposing offensive lines will still probably focus on the 300 lb beasts in the middle and speedy end Roberts and Stuart. That will leave Clutts free to create havoc and post double digit sacks.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Carolina not only got the nickel back it needed but nabbed Marshall, arguably one of the top 5 cornerbacks in the entire NFL draft. The Panthers and Marshall both win out in this situation. Carolina gets a bigger, faster and more polished cornerback to replace Manning. Marshall gets immediate playing time for a legitimate Super Bowl contender. As well, Manning parlayed his spot in Carolina into a 21 million dollar contract Chicago Bear contract in just 3 years, something Marshall, am sure, has not ignored.
RealFootball365.com also mention that Pat Hill does a fine job preparing his players for the next level.
Hill's among the most positively regarded coaches in college football because he's learned from so many great pro coaches and knows what it takes to prepare his best prospects for the highest level. Hill learned under the best coach in the game, Bill Belichick, for a number of years, so he obviously has the right pedigree.
If there are still some who doubt Hill's ability to develop college talent, they just have to wait until the 2007 NFL draft. WR Paul Williams, CB Marcus McCauley, and C Kyle Young are projected as first round selections for next year's draft, and none were rated higher than a 2 star prospect coming out of high school.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
As far as the all-WAC team where is Hawaii's G Samson Satele? He is a freakin all-American candidate. The Bulldogs that deserve some consideration for the first team are: WLB Marcus Riley, G Cole Popovich, G Ryan Wendell, T Chris Denham, RB Dwayne Wright, KR Clifton Smith, and K Clint Stitser. Obviously, the last three were not considered because of injury, but in my opinion will be the best at their respective positions by season's end. Boise State's RB Ian Johnson is a weak pick, I'm guessing by default. If you are not going to select Wright because of a two year absence then at least pick San Jose State's Yonus Davis or Louisiana Tech's Freddie Franklin. Those two backs, along with Nevada's Robert Hubbard, were the only WAC running backs to rush for over 100 yards against the Bulldogs, the best run defense in the WAC last season.
THE SPORTING NEWS PRESEASON ALL-WAC TEAM
WR Paul Williams, Fresno State 6-2 210 Sr.
WR Davone Bess, Hawaii 5-10 187 So.
TE Anthony Pudewell, Nevada 6-3 250 Sr.
T Ryan Clady, Boise State 6-6 319 So.
T Tala Esera, Hawaii 6-4 295 Sr.
G Tad Miller, Boise State 6-4 304 Jr.
G Barrett Reznick, Nevada 6-1 285 Sr.
C Kyle Young, Fresno State 6-5 330 Sr.
QB Colt Brennan, Hawaii 6-3 190 Jr.
RB Robert Hubbard, Nevada 5-11 195 Sr.
RB Ian Johnson, Boise State 5-11 194 So.
E Tyler Clutts, Fresno State 6-3 245 Jr.
E Ikaika Alama-Francis, Hawaii 6-5 250 Sr.
T Andrew Browning, Boise State 6-0 278 Sr.
LB Ezra Butler, Nevada 6-2 255 Jr.
LB Korey Hall, Boise State 6-1 228 Sr.
LB Colt Brooks, Boise State 6-1 216 Sr.
LB Dwayne Andrews, Fresno State 6-0 240 Sr.
CB Joe Garcia, Nevada 6-0 180 Sr.
CB Marcus McCauley, Fresno State 6-1 205 Sr.
S Marty Tadman, Boise State 5-11 182 Jr.
S D.J. Dykes, Idaho 6-3 202 Jr.
K Mike Barrow, Idaho 5-11 158 Sr.
P Kyle Stringer, Boise State 5-8 194 Sr.
KR Quinton Jones, Boise State 5-9 177 Sr.
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
Offense: Colt Brennan, QB, Hawaii
Defense: Korey Hall, LB, Boise State
NEWCOMERS OF THE YEAR
Offense: Marcus Cross, RB, Utah State
Defense: Michael Stuart, E, Fresno State
Monday, May 08, 2006
When I was a kid I couldn't wait for these preseason magazines to hit the news stands, and I have bought every TSN CFB Yearbook, save 1991, since the 1989 issue with Ron Cox on the cover. Now that I am older, I realize these predictions are just a crapshoot; their basis of information is just spring practice, returning talent, and the team's performance from the prior season. As well, many of them rely on a host of regional newspaper beat writers to write their previews. This sometimes creates contradiction from what the magazine might say in the national preview compared to what the beat writer may say in the conference preview.
The Fresno Bee's Andy Boogaard wrote the Fresno State previews back in 89 when I purchased my first TSN CFB Yearbook, and the Fresno Bee's Marek Warszawski wrote last year's. I am too lazy to go through all my issues, but I can all but guarantee these two have written the Bulldog preview in TSN for the last 17 years or so. I could be wrong, but I doubt anyone other than a Fresno Bee beat writer has written the preview in TSN. If not, it was a WAC(or Big West in 90-91) beat writer. My point is these guys are "homers", although Boogaard and Warszawski are good writers, and know their stuff; they are still "homers". However, a "homer" will be able to give the most accurate information about his respective team.
Phil Steele claims to have had the most accurate preseason preview for the last 6 years, prior to 2005, based on the Stassen ratings. Steele's preview didn't finish on top last year, but still finished a respectable third. He writes every team's preview, and each is an equal two pages. TSN only has two pages for its top 25 BCS teams. TSN just has one page for the rest of the BCS teams and top non-BCS teams and only a half page for the rest of the 119 Division IA teams. Steele knows his stuff, but it is not like he attends spring practice of every IA school.
I didn't see him at any of Bulldog spring practices, but I did see the Fresno Bee's David White. I don't know if White is going to write the TSN preview this year, but if he did he would have the more accurate view compared to Steele. But Steele is a far more knowledgeable CFB expert and a keen football stat freak. That is why he has picked Fresno State to win the WAC the last two years but TSN stuck with Boise State. On paper Fresno State is a "winner" but in reality it does not win WAC titles under Pat Hill.
As far as Fresno State for 2006, spring does not tell the entire story. By just watching or reading the recap of the Spring Game and scrimmage, the quarterbacks look to be abysmal. But anyone who saw Paul Pinegar in last year's practice and saw the new quarterbacks this year, know the new guys are far more talented just inexperienced. By reading the recaps one would think that the offensive line was going to be average because it got beat up by a defensive front that couldn't stop anyone the last four games and lost WAC Defensive Player of the Year Garrett McIntyre. But anyone who saw practice realized that the defensive line is much improved despite losing its best player. And knows Hill was shuffling the offensive line all spring because two starters were out the entire spring.
To make an accurate prediction for the 2006 Bulldogs one will have to watch preseason practice come August. The cornerback situation looks like it is in dire straights, but who’s to say incoming true freshmen Damion Owens or AJ Jefferson won't make a difference in the fall. What about walk ons? Hill is synonymous for developing good walk ons; this year will be no different. I spoke with incoming WR walk on Phil Ghilarducci and he is ready to contribute. Most don't know about the 6-4 217 target who runs a 4.5 forty and benches an impressive 340 lbs. Nationalchamps.net even stated he ran a 4.4 in their 2004 Oregon State preview. There is another thing about most preseason previews; they often use school's spring rosters and prospectus. Ghilarducci left Oregon State in January of 2004 and was not going to be Beaver in the fall, but nationalchamps.net was very high on the freshman WR, calling him the best of the bunch. How often is gobulldogs.com updated? The spring prospectus is not even uploaded to the sight and it was released on March 8.
Preseason previews will make assumptions about incoming freshman/talent but only if they are 4 or 5 star recruits. For instance, last year Phil Steele raved about West Virginia’s incoming 5 star running back Jason Gwaltney's size and speed. He predicted Gwaltney would win the starting job and even named him preseason all-Big East second team. Gwaltney was a bust but unheralded 3 star running back Steve Slaton came out of nowhere to rush for over 1,000 yards. As well, redshirt freshman quarterback Pat White took over mid-season because of an injury to starter Adam Bednarik. Steele expected the fast, elusive White to start but most preseason magazines based their predictions on Bednarik. With Bednarik WV struggled to a 5-1 start, got whipped in Morgantown by Virginia Tech, and was in danger of getting blown out by Louisville at home, but he got injured in the 3rd quarter vs. the Cardinals. In comes White and WV comes back from 24-7 down, wins in overtime, doesn't lose a game the rest of the year, and finished ranked in the top 5.
West Virginia will be good in 2006, and even ESPN's Pat Forde gave the Mountaineers the nod as his early pick(subscription required) to win the national championship. But are you telling me that if WV would have lost by 3 instead of winning by 3, against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, would it have gotten the same hype from Forde? My guess is no. WV would still be considered a top 10-15 team but would not be mentioned in the same breath with say a USC or Texas. An argument can be made about Oregon too. The Ducks are ranked No. 19 by Athlon this year. But if they had beaten Oklahoma in the Holiday Bowl, I guarantee Athlon would have the Ducks rated at or near the top 10. Athlon ranks TCU No. 18; I bet that is based on the Frog's 11-1 season last year. Hell, even Utah is ranked No. 23. The Utes finished 7-5 but whipped No. 24 Georgia Tech in the Emerald Bowl. Strong finishes usually lead to higher preseason rankings.
The Bulldogs finished 2005 with a 4 game losing streak, but if they would have beaten Nevada, Louisiana Tech and Tulsa the outlook would be different in 2006. FS returns more senior starters than anyone else in the WAC and has 11 starters that have played in at least 30 games. The Bulldogs also have 2003-04 starting running back Dwayne Wright back at full-strength. However, I will expect most preseason predictions to call for a down year for the 'Dogs compared to their numerous preseason top 25 rankings last year. Only two of the top 12 preseason publications did not rank FS in its preason top 25. I expect none to rank the 'Dogs this year.
They will point to youth and the loss of Paul Pinegar, Wendell Mathis, Richard Marshall, Tyrone Culver and Garrett McIntyre as the reasons. Youth? At quarterback and maybe one cornerback spot if junior Damon Jenkins doesn't step up his game. Pinegar was an average quarterback that fit a system and had good players around him his last two years. Mathis is not even close to the bull Wright is. Marshall is irreplaceable, but the team still has Marcus McCauley, who in my opinion was a better cornerback than Marshall last year. Culver's spot will be filled by senior Vince Mays, who is a better athlete and had a great spring. McIntyre's motor is irreplaceable but there is far more talent at defensive line this year than in Hill's previous nine years.
The 2005 team was -4 in turnover margin in 2005, the first time that a Hill coached team finished below even. The 2005 Bulldogs also did not have Wright all year and RB/KR Clifton Smith was lost for the season in game 2. Besides those two, the team had 7 others starters miss at least one game with an injury including losing key starters at some point for the remainder of the season: K Clint Stitser, WLB Marcus Riley, and FB Roshon Vercher. 2004 starting fullback Nate Adams was lost for the year in preseason, as well.
I highly doubt the 2006 team will face the same bad luck and misfortune. The ball usually bounces the other way from one season to another. Couple that with the immense talent and experience this year's Bulldogs have, I say the team will win at least 9 games, with a solid chance at 11. Come August the new offensive coaches will start making their mark, and this team should finally be healthy. Only then can anyone make any sort of legitimate prediction on the fate of the 2006 season. Just about every preseason prediction jumped on the Bulldog bandwagon last year, but this year they will not be so kind. So in short, ignore the preseason publications and start counting down towards September 1.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
The only good thing about not being drafted was Mathis was able to choose what team to sign with. He inked to a free agent deal with Minnesota where he will be coached by his former college running back coach, Eric Bieniemy, when he was at UCLA from 2001-2002. He is happy to be a Viking.
He was not the only big name running back to go undrafted. DonTrell Moore of New Mexico joined only a select few of running backs, last year, to have run for at least 1,000 in all 4 years of college. It was not enough to get him drafted.
Texas Tech's Taurean Henderson started all four years in college in a pass happy offense. He was a tremendous receiving threat out of the backfield, but was never able to prove himself as a between the tackle runner in Mike Leach's offense and , therefore, went undrafted.
Tennessee's Gerald Riggs Jr. is the son of a Pro Bowl running back and a former high school all-American. His career at Tennessee was rocky, no pun intended, but still was considered a legitimate Heisman candidate heading into 2005. But a less than stellar senior season led to him going undrafted.
Andre Hall was South Florida's leading rusher and was considered a borderline first day pick, but didn't hear his name called on either day of the draft. Oregon's leading rusher Terrence Whitehead, former NCAA leading rusher Patrick Cobbs of North Texas, and Wake Forest's all-everything Chris Barclay were some of the other good backs that were not drafted, as well.
Mathis has a very good shot at making the Vikings roster, but he will have to battle Henderson for spot. Most NFL teams have 3 running backs on the roster, a fullback and possibly a special teams players listed as a running back. Minnesota has four running backs listed on the roster: Mewelde Moore, Chester Taylor, Ciatrick Faison and Joe Echema.
Moore is penciled in as the starter but has yet to prove to be a 16 game NFL starter. Taylor an experienced between the tackle back, but is a career back up. Faison is by far the most explosive but is still raw and inexperienced. Echema is only filling up roster space. For Mathis to make this roster he has to prove that he is a complete back.
At Fresno State he was an every down back per se, he rarely lined up in the shotgun formation or in obvious passing downs. He was not a kick returner in college nor a special teams player. Henderson, on the other hand, is an underrated runner, a legitimate receiving threat and can return kicks. He fits the mold of a third down back in the NFL.
Mathis' best shot at making the club is proving he is a between the tackle runner that can catch the ball out of the back field and be an effective pass blocker. If he proves taht he can beat Taylor for his spot on the roster, is younger, and will be far cheaper for Minnesota to sign.