Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ESPN Gets It Right

ESPN released its WAC spring recap with a very accurate assessment of the Bulldogs questions and answers heading into fall. This was not just any general review stating the obvious question marks, something CFN often does. Most spring reviews give generic views like Fresno State must replace 4 year starting quarterback Paul Pinegar and all-WAC performers Wendell Mathis, Garrett McIntyre and Tyrone Culver. We all know that, but ESPN dug a little deeper.

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.

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