Monday, July 31, 2006

Fall Camp Preview: Offensive Line

  • Who's Gone: LT Dartangon Shack
  • Who's In: LT Bobby Lepori 6'5 285, LG Ryan Wendell 6'2 270, C Kyle Young 6'5 330, RG Cole Popovich 6'2 285, RT Chris Denman 6'6 305
  • Who's Riding the Pine: Cameron Harris 6'3 260, John Guevara 6'2 270, Pierce Masse 6'4 285
  • Who to Look Out For: Joe Bernardi 6'2 280, James Meeks 6'5 310
  • Who Else Will See Time: Robin Kezerian 6'3 300, Richard "Oso" Pacheco 6'2 285, Adam McDowell 6'4 285, Chris Piligian 6'5 265
  • Who Needs to Get His Ass in Shape (if he even makes the team): James Paulk 6'3 310

    Pat Hill is a former offensive lineman, and thus he takes to the performance of his Bulldog offensive line very seriously. Since 2001, Fresno State, year in and year out, has had one of the better offensive lines in the Western Athletic Conference.

    The 2001 offensive line had the distinction of being the biggest offensive line in the nation. They were great pass protecting line, but were just a bit too big, and a tad too slow, to be effective run blockers. The biggest surprise of the season was having the blind side of David Carr protected by a redshirt freshman, and former walk on tight end, Logan Mankins. Mankins started all 14 games and was named freshman All-American.

    The 2002 offensive line was anchored by senior starters Rodney Michael and Joe Schey, and was considered, by some, as one of the top ten offensive lines in the nation. Despite the presence of the experienced seniors, Mankins proved to be the team's best lineman. The 2002 line suffered some injuries but had decent depth and helped pave the way for recording breaking tailback Rodney Davis.

    The 2003 offensive line was decimated by graduation, injuries and player dismissals. Mankins was the biggest loss, after he suffered a season ending injury in preseason practice. Projected starter, and former JUCO All-American and four star prospect, James Martin was dismissed from the team in August. And the offensive line's only senior, Fitu Tu'ua, was declared academically ineligible. A few bright spots came out of the dire situation. Freshman center Kyle Young became the offensive line's second freshman All-American in three years. Fellow freshman, and former walk on, Chris Denham, beat out three star JUCO recruit Kawika Edwards, for the starting spot at right tackle mid-season. And sophomore guard Dartangon Shack filled in for Mankins at LT and was named all-WAC.

    The 2004 offensive line returned three starters, plus Mankins, and the fifth starter was filled by impressive true freshman Cole Popovich. This group of linemen didn't receive the same hype as the 2002 line, but proved to be a better bunch. The Bulldogs suffered a blow early on, when Popovich was lost for year to a knee injury, in just the second game. He was replaced by another true, Ryan Wendell, who went to be named WAC co-Freshman of the Year and freshman All-American. The 2004 line paved the way for two 1,000 yard rushers (ok Wendell Mathis was five yards short) and Mankins was selected in the first round of the ensuing 2005 NFL Draft.

    Last season, despite having to replace Mankins, the line looked to be in great shape. Yet, the line was never able to replace Mankins per se. Shack moved back to LT, and was named all-WAC, again, but he could not replace Mankins’ dominate presence on the left side. Popovich and Wendell, though undersized, proved to be one of the better guard tandems in school history. And Popovich became the offensive line's fourth freshman All-American in five years.

    Hill started to change his offensive linemen philosophy in 2004, from larger linemen to smaller, quicker linemen. And in just five years, the Bulldogs went from the largest offensive line in the nation, to the smallest one in the WAC.

    The 2006 offensive line will be one of the best in school history and among the best in nation. For the first time in Hill's tenure, 15 scholarship offensive linemen will be on the roster, and that does not even include the incoming freshmen. Compare that to the 2003 team that, at one point of the season, had just eight. Fresno State has lost some key lineman, to season ending injuries, two of the last three years, but if it happens this year, there is plenty of talented depth ready to step up.

    Young and Denman enter their fourth year as starters. Young is arguably the best center in the nation, and Denham has quietly added 20 plus pounds to his already massive 6'6 frame. Denman does not get the hype of others, but is ready to have a "breakout" year. Popovich and Wendell return at both guard positions, and only left tackle needs to be filled, but that is easier said than done.

    Mankins and Shack have occupied the left tackle spot for the last five years. Who gets to replace them? As of now, So. Bobby Lepori is penciled in as the starter. Some fans, and so-called football experts (Phil Steele), expect four star JUCO recruit James Paulk to start at left tackle. However, Paulk is far from football shape and there is a good chance he may never make it off the bench or ever suit up in a Bulldog football uniform. Lepori had a good spring, while Paulk sat out most of it over transfer issues. An interesting prospect is former defensive end, Adam McDowell. McDowell had a stellar spring and is now close to 290 lbs, compared to the 260-270 he was last year as a defensive end.

    Denman has a great shot to be drafted by the NFL next spring. He has started 34 straight games at right tackle, but ironically, sat out spring ball due to injury. That opened the door, somewhat, for redshirt freshman James Meeks. Meeks is the best pure offensive lineman Hill has ever recruited. Meeks had a good spring and gives the Bulldogs a very talented backup at right tackle.

    Young is the anchor of the line in the middle, but Hill entertained the idea of lining up Young at guard and tackle, in the spring. It was mostly done because starters, Denman and Popovich, missed spring, but Hill is also looking for another road-grader like Mankins. If there is one position where Hill has plenty of depth, it is center. So if Young does play or start at another spot on the line, the center position will not miss a beat. Senior Robin Kezerian transferred to Fresno State from Washington in 2003. Unfortunately, the hometown boy has not been able to crack the starting lineup, but that is not due to a lack of talent. Behind Young and Kezerian, sit two promising prospects, So. Cameron Harris and true freshman Joe Bernardi. Harris is very athletic and can even play tight end if needed. Bernardi is a future four-year starting center, if Hill does not decide to play him this year.

    Right guard Popovich is widely considered one of the best guards in the nation, and he is just a sophomore. As stated before, he sat out spring ball, but should be 100% by the start of fall camp. Kezerian is the line's "sixth-man" per se, as he can play every spot on the line if needed, but he mostly backs up the guard position. Richard "Oso" Pacheco is another talented player that can play every spot on the line. He is penciled in as Popovich’s back up, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him at center or even left tackle, if needed. Redshirt freshman Pierce Masse can play either guard spot.

    Wendell was a back up center in the preseason of 2004. This past spring, he was playing center again. Could he make the move back to center, and that could allow Young to move to guard or even tackle? Behind Wendell is Jr. Chris Piligian. Piligian looks like a tackle but had a decent spring at guard. So. John Guevara, on the other hand, looks like a guard, but played mostly tackle during spring. Both of these guys have numerous springs under their belts and provide quality depth.

    Hill signed three promising freshmen linemen in the spring, Charlie Robbins, Andrew Jackson and Ken Wiggins. Hill likens Robbins to Popovich, but with so much depth on the offensive line, it makes sense to redshirt or even grayshirt the hometown talent. Jackson participated in summer workouts and looks like he will play defense line, but could be an effective tackle, if Hill needed him on offense. Wiggins is a little raw, and would be best suited to redshirt.
  • Friday, July 28, 2006

    Summer Workout Wrap-up by fsufever

    Well, the summer volunteer workout season is over. It was the hottest period of workout days of any season that I can remember but the guys gave it their all on every play. It was so hot that a group of the team members came over to me and thanked me for braving the heat every day

    Tom Brandstater told me that most of the guys doing “volunteer” workouts this summer come into the class room, weight room and running track at 12:00 pm on the workout days of Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and are doing one of the three until 4:30 pm when they go to the Practice Field where they work as a team until 6:15 pm and then many of them stay after that, working on whatever they think they need to work on. These are the “volunteer” days of summer. Six and one-half hours of hard conditioning and classes.

    This group of “volunteers” averages a count of over 70 football players per workout day. Think about that, an average that high with most of their friends swimming, sleeping, lying back or making money. But it doesn’t seem to be a hardship in their minds, and I certainly don’t see any discipline problem, in fact, they just can’t wait to get out there. Sometimes we may bad mouth individual players but think of what they are doing to make the team, and themselves, better. Possibly, they won’t make a play or they may lack the talent we would like, but the coaches think they can do the best job for that position at that time. Their occasional bad play, or bad day, may upset us but they work so hard we should think twice before we say too much, and show the kids some compassion. I know that’s being a fan, the first to compliment and the first to criticize, but I would hope we never boo at a player.

    Just for general information, and to answer the quips about Tom Brandstater’s pipe stem legs, I want everyone to know that the fastest player on the team, Marcus McCauley would probably give anything if his legs were as big as Brandstater’s. McCauley does have slender legs, but do you want beauty or do you want speed? Also, Brandstater is not a skinny kid anymore; he is a big, rawboned man that has strength and speed, and his legs are very strong.

    Tight ends were represented by Bear Pascoe, Drew Lubinsky, Norman Davis, and Jesus Tapia. They all looked in good shape and worked very hard. This group is probably the most polite bunch of athletes on the team. They speak softly, smile often, and pickup anybody they knock down. They have improved, somewhat, this summer, but they still have hard hands and need more work on using their fingers. Right now, they are close to the way Paul Williams was in the spring practice of 2005. But during the summer months, he changed over night into the receiver we know now, and perhaps our tight ends will do the same.

    Pascoe is doing better now, than he did in spring ball, and continues to try to outwork everyone. He volunteers for every pass route and chases down overthrown balls and does everything he can for his teammates and the squad. Last Thursday, he made a great catch of a pass thrown over the wrong shoulder and got a nice hand from all the guys at practice. Norman Davis will have to put on another 30-40 lbs before he gets any blocking assignments, but he can catch the pass right now.

    Tuesday was the last practice day of summer, and after the warm ups and drills, they went into passing and running plays, only with all the positions reversed. Receivers played defense, RBs played LB’s, QBs played DBs, and the OL & DL just pushed people out of place and played wherever they want to! It was great. The defensive backfield scored at will against the Offensive Players, who were trying to play defense. It was embarrassing. The entire defensive backfield could run the routes, and catch the ball, but not a single receiver could play defense. There was a lot of humility learned out there Tuesday.

    The most athletic man on the team is Tyler Clutts. He looks to be the 3rd best Passer (he was a HS QB) on the team right now, and he never practices passing. He is an outstanding runner and made a move on Paul Williams, that made Williams actually fall down! He’s a fine receiver, with good moves, even at 245 lbs. He can bang with the best of them, but always knows what’s going on. I know he is valuable to us at DE, but he could have played several other positions. He also spends time before and after practices helping others on perceived deficiencies, and he’s a friendly, polite man.

    Sean Norton is back, and is well enough to throw, but did not get involved in any drills or plays. I’m sure he will be ok by August 5th, which will be the first actual day of fall practice. By the way, Norton and Ryan Colburn were playing catch, throwing 60 yard passes to each other. Colburn was slightly off line on some, but Norton was doing three steps back, getting into position and stepping forward into perfect balance, and throwing passes into Colburn’s chest consistently. They threw 15-20 at this distance. They then went towards each other, throwing about 35-40 yards, and Norton threw on a line never getting above neck high.

    Brain Blip! Think about this...

    At right guard, 330 lb Kyle Young, flanked by 315 lb right tackle Chris Denham. Followed by, a motorized uniform, looking like it’s filled with rocks, 245 lb fullback Roshon Vercher, leading the way for dainty-footed 230 lb running back Dwayne Wright. Does this give you an idea of why Young might have been working out at guard/tackle during spring training? Is this a possibility? Will this pick up a first down? What do you think of this idea?

    Clifton Smith was there for a while and threw about 20 lobs for the RBs practice drills. He looks very good physically, very strong, but he was favoring his leg. This might just be habit, as we sometimes fall into this practice after an injury or it may be bothering him. I’m still hoping he gets back out there by August 20th, and able to go full blast, but I doubt it. Vercher was not there, but I do believe he got married this past weekend, and I hope he will be back for practice on the 4th without losing too much strength.

    The team will go immediately to two-a-days for the first seven days of fall camp, starting on August 5th. Then go back to one a day for the remainder of the practice season. When fall practice starts, we will see where the actual strength and ability are, because of pads and all-out warfare. Ability and deficiency, both show up quickly, when these huge men start throwing people around and the linebackers are hitting, and the backs are blocking. You hear the thuds, and fists are thrown. It’s exciting and it’s our Fresno State Football!

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Coaches Choose Broncos 5-4

    Talk about a close vote-Fresno State lost two conference games to end the season, three players to the NFL draft, must replace a four-year starting quarterback and two 1,000 yard rushers, and have never won an outright WAC title- Yet, FS was just one vote away from being the coaches favorite to win the WAC title in 2006.

    Who was the number one choice? That is a no-brainer, Boise State. The Broncos, in my opinion, should have been the overwhelming favorite among WAC coaches. There is not one current WAC coach that has ever won a game at Bronco Stadium. And that includes Hill who has to take his 'Dogs to Boise November 1.

    I am still puzzled that Nevada is not getting the hype among the WAC coaches and media like it has gotten in much of the preseason magazines. If Nevada upsets Fresno State in the opener, the WAC title is its to lose. Boise State must travel to Reno November 25. I was expecting at least one WAC coach to choose the Wolf Pack.

    Rank Team (1st Place Votes) Points
    1. Boise State (5) 61
    2. Fresno State (4) 59
    3. Nevada 48
    4. Hawai'i 43
    5. Louisiana Tech 39
    6. San Jose State 25
    7. Idaho 18
    8. Utah State 18
    9. New Mexico State 13

    Fall Camp Preview: Running Backs

  • Who's Gone: Wendell Mathis, Bryson Sumlin, and Matt Rivera
  • Who's In: Dwayne Wright 6' 235, Roshon Vercher 5'11 245
  • Who's Riding the Pine: Aaron De La Rosa 5'11 185, Kyle Richard 6' 225
  • Who to Look Out For: Lonyae Miller 5'11.5 220
  • Who Else Will See Time: Shannon Dorsey 6'1 190, Rich Owens 6' 210
  • Who Might Not Play: Clifton Smith 5'8 190

    Fresno State has produced a 1,000 yard rusher in each of the last five years: Paris Gaines, Rodney Davis, Dwayne Wright, Bryson Sumlin, and Wendell Mathis. I have to mention that if Fresno State didn't play 13 game regular seasons in 2001 and 2003, Gaines and Wright would not have eclipsed the 1,000 yard plateau. Very few Bulldog fans are worried about the tailback position, despite the departure of Sumlin and Mathis, and most of the preseason publications are split on the tailback issue.

    Pat Hill believes in a primary every down back. However, in his nine seasons at Fresno State he has never had that type of back for an entire season, save 1997 with Michael Pittman. However, in 1997 Hill had his "worst" team in terms of talent and depth, and Pittman was the “offense”. In 1998 Hill switched former walk on fullback Jamie Kimbrough to tailback, when none of the redshirt freshmen tailbacks stood out in the spring. In 1999 Hill had an every down back in the much heralded So. Paris Gaines. Yet, it was redshirt freshman Derrick Ward who stole the show and shared time with Gaines. The 2000 season was Hill's worst in terms of tailback play. Gaines suffered a serious knee injury in the 1999 Las Vegas Bowl and missed most of the 2000 season. Ward got hurt in the preseason and was never 100%. Josh Levi ended up leading the team in rushing with a paltry 397 yards.

    In 2001 David Carr led the team through the air, but Gaines was still able to gain 1,000 yards, while Ward missed the season due to academics. 2002 was supposed to be Ward's year, but he failed to qualify academically again. Levi left the team earlier that spring and hot shot sophomore Therrian Fontenot got injured in the preseason. Fresno State was left with walk on redshirt freshman Matt Rivera and out-of-shape JUCO Rodney Davis. Davis became the every down back by default and simply broke the school record for rushing yards in a season. Yet, Davis struggled in 2003 (mostly due to a tough schedule and suspect line play due to injuries) and eventually lost his starting job to Dwayne Wright.

    Wright was the back Hill dreamed of, big, strong, and quick with great hands out of the backfield. He was destined for a record breaking season in 2004, but injured his knee in the second game of the season has not played since. Sumlin and Mathis had 1,000 yard seasons in 2004 and 2005, respectively, but both shared starting time over the two years and neither were as good as Wright.

    Wright was tempted to make a comeback in 2005, but opted to sit out the entire season and retain two years of eligibility. It has paid off per se; he had a great spring and is a solid 15-20 lbs bigger than he was in 2004. Wright was never a speedster, but was quick and had great power and acceleration. He has not lost a step despite the increase in mass; however, he is more than likely now to run over a linebacker instead of juking him. Fresno State has had not had a back with this size, speed and versatility since Pittman. Yet, Pittman never had the luxury of running behind one of the best offensive lines in country or playing for a team as good as the 2006 bunch.

    Wright has passed the eyeball test in spring, but how will his knee hold up once the season starts. He showed no signs of injury, and the consensus thought is he will return to old form September 1, 2006.

    The past three seasons, Fresno State has had a backup tailback rush for at least 500 yards. If Hill had his way, he would prefer his starter to carry the ball 20-30 times a game. Injuries, either to running backs or lineman, have taken their toll on the Bulldogs the last three seasons. As long as the 'Dogs stay healthy, Wright should be just the second back in Bulldog history to top 1,500 and could be the first to top 20 rushing touchdowns in a season. And this year’s backup will be lucky to top 300 yards in that case.

    Clifton Smith is penciled in as the backup, but Smith may not play a down in 2006 if his knee is not 100%. Smith started running June 1 and started making cuts in this month. However, he is not participating in summer workouts and it is doubtful he will be cleared to play by the time fall camp begins (Aug. 4). Smith is not an every down back and will not be expected to carry the ball the 20-30 times like Wright. Smith's value is as kick returner and scat back. His presence on the field changes an entire defensive scheme. He will create matchup problems all over the field. The Bulldogs survived without his services last season, and could afford to have him sit out 2006 to get healthy. Hill will require Smith to have adequate practice time in before he is allowed to play a down. Smith’s target date for return is September 9 vs. Oregon, but that is a stretch at this point.

    If Smith sits out 2006, it may be because of 2006's biggest recruit, Lonyae Miller. Miller is man among boys. At 5' 11.5 and 220 lbs he does not look like a freshman standing among the other running backs at summer workouts. Miller has a ways to go. He must learn the offense and beat out a few veterans before he can get any playing time. Miller is the real deal, and with so much uncertainty about injuries among the top two backs, it is becoming evident that he will contribute as a true.

    Shannon Dorsey was a mere 170 lbs soaking wet when he signed with the Bulldogs in 2003. Three years later, Dorsey has bulked up to near 200 lbs of solid muscle. His career at Fresno State has been plagued by injuries and has yet to make it through an entire season unscathed. With that said, he had a killer spring. He was very impressive throughout spring drills and is slowly proving that he can carry the load if needed.

    R-Fr. Rich Owens is the token walk on tailback. From Sumlin to Rivera, Hill has been blessed with quality walk on talent to help fill the depth chart at running back, Owens is no different. Don't be surprised to see Owens get quality minutes in the season opener. He has great size (6'0 210) and is a patient runner. He reminds me of Sumlin when he hits the line; he waits, cuts through the hole and somehow gains 5- 10 yards when you expected him to be stuffed for no gain. Owens is also a great receiver out of the backfield.

    So. Kreig Peters is the forgotten talent. Peters was a walk on freshman in 2004, yet was very impressive in summer drills that year. He redshirted and had a great spring and preseason in 2005, but got injured and missed the entire season. Peters is built low to the ground (5'9 205) and has impressive power. He is like Kimbrough but is so much faster. Peters is arguably the fastest tailback, and was the only back that Richard Marshall had trouble catching last summer. Peters is capable of playing Smith's scat back role or Wright's every down role. Yet, he has not been cleared to practice thus far. He is expected back by August 4, but could miss some of fall camp.

    Andrew Jones is another walk on that redshirted last year and is expected to contribute mostly on special teams. R-Fr. Aaron De La Rosa draws comparison to Rivera, undersized, limited athletic ability, but great work ethic and determination. He is not expected to contribute this season.

    Sr. Roshon Vercher is arguably the best fullback to ever play at Fresno State. That is a huge compliment considering the NFL's best fullback currently is former Bulldog Lorenzo Neal. Neal, however, was mostly a running back than a fullback in his years as a 'Dog (90-92). Vercher is strictly a lead blocking back and his presence was missed last year when he went down with a season ending injury at USC. Vercher has paved the way for three 1,000 yard rushers and could be the first fullback in NCAA history to block for four straight 1,000 yard rushers.

    Vercher's injury killed the Bulldogs for two reasons. 1. He is very hard to replace. 2. There was no experienced or talented back up to fill his spot. Redshirt freshman Kyle Richard was thrust into the back up role when Nate Adams went down in August with a season ending injury. Richard did fine in clean up duty, but was not ready or capable of filling Vercher's spot late in the season. Adams is coming around slowly and should be healthy by the start of the season.

    Frank Padilla is the future of the program at fullback. He is big, strong and fast. He could play tailback if needed and has great hands. Padilla is a true freshman, and Hill would like to redshirt him, but he may be just too good to keep of the field. Padilla's presence in the backfield automatically changes the opposing defense's scheme. Unlike Vercher, Padilla is a threat to run or catch the ball out of the backfield on every play.

    Isaac Kinter has been lost in the mix. He came to Fresno State as a three star linebacker prospect last year. He was moved to fullback after Adams was lost for the season. Kinter was not needed per se, and redshirted. Most fans expected Kinter to move back to linebacker in the spring. At 6'1 230 with great speed, he was expected to help on the outside for a defense that struggled late in the year. But the former high school receiver practiced with the fullbacks and tight ends in the spring. He is a perfect H-back, but Fresno State has not used the H-back since Andy Ludwig was the offensive coordinator in 2001. New offensive coordinator Steve Hagen's offense will be different than the complex pro-style scheme Frank Cignetti used last year. Hagen's offense will be similar to Ludwig's 2001 offense with David Carr. Kinter, like Smith and Padilla, creates matchup problems for defenses with his speed.

    R-Fr. Reynard Camp scored a touchdown in the spring game, and is load to bring down. He is listed at 6’ 0 225, but looked closer to 240 at the spring game. Camp was a linebacker last year, but made the switch to offense in the spring. So. Seth McDaniels is another former linebacker that was moved to fullback in the spring.
  • Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Media Likes Boise...

    ...And they should. Boise State has won four straight WAC titles and odds are BSU will win its fifth straight this season. WAC media members picked BSU to win the WAC, while Fresno State was picked second at the annual WAC football media conference.

    I am somewhat amazed WAC media members didn't pick Nevada second. The Wolf Pack have been the trendy favorite to win the WAC from Lindy's College Football to EA Sports NCAA Football video game.

    This is the first year since 2000 that none of the major media outlets are picking the 'Dogs to win the WAC. It will be an interesting and fun year, and I'd put my money on the 'Dogs getting at least a share of the WAC title in 2006.

    Rank Team (1st place votes) Points
    1. Boise State (36) 432
    2. Fresno State (9) 380
    3. Nevada (4) 349
    4. Hawai‘i (1) 306
    5. Louisiana Tech 256
    6. San Jose State 153
    7. Utah State 147
    8. Idaho 134
    9. New Mexico State 93

    Show Me the Money

    According to the Idaho Statesman, Pat Hill is the highest paid coach in the Western Athletic Conference. Hawaii's June Jones is the second highest paid and first time head coach Boise State's Chris Peterson is third.

    However, of the nine WAC coaches, Hill's salary was the only one that was not public record and could not be obtain by the Statesman. Their source of info on Hill was the Fresno Bee, which states Hill make $900,000 this season with bonuses that could push it to 1.2 million. I wonder what Hill's incentives are? The Statesman reports WAC coaches get rewarded for winning conference titles, finishing in the top 25, coach of the year awards, academic performance and attendance.

    Should Hill get a bonus if FS has a winning season? Hell no! In fact he should lose part of his salary if FS has a losing season, or more importantly loses more than two conference games. Obliviously, the incentive for winning a WAC title is not enough. Or does Hill get a huge bonus if he gets FS to the BCS? Either way, Hill's program is spic 'n span when it comes to academics and off-the-field issues. I guess when you think about the turmoil the basketball program has put on the University in the past 10 years, it is nice to see the school's top and most watched sport succeed on and off the field, despite just once WAC title and one top 25 ranking in Hill’s nine years.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    College Colors Day

    The second annual College Colors Day will take place on September 1, the same day Fresno State hosts Nevada. The game will be now called the College Colors Day Classic. Keep in mind folks this not something special per se, the 'Dog-Pack game is the only college game scheduled for September 1. It is not like had any other game to choose.

    College Colors Day, which coincides with both “back to school” on campus and the kick-off of the college football season, seeks to celebrate and promote the traditions and spirit that drive collegiate athletics by encouraging fans, alumni and students to wear apparel of their favorite college throughout the day of September 1, 2006.

    When I think Bulldogs and sporting your colors it brings to mind a certain Norteno street gang, not a celebration and promotion of the traditions and spirit that drive collegiate athletics.

    So remember to sport (not) your (gang) colors at Bulldog Stadium on September 1, 2006, Bulldog fans.

    Saturday, July 22, 2006

    Former 'Dog is (literally) Still in the Game

    Eric Mahanke is probably most remembered, at least by me, for his 5 catch 43 yard and one touchdown performance in 1997 vs Utah on ESPN. Those numbers are not outstanding by any account, but it might have been the most impressive performance by Bulldog wide receiver in 1997. Especially for Mahanke who was playing in his first game ever as a Bulldog. His performance led to his only start of 1997 the following week at Hawaii, where he had 5 receptions for 35 yards. He would finish 1997 with 12 receptions for 92 yards and the one touchdown.

    He entered the 1998 season atop the depth chart as a senior. However, the emergence of the "Smurfs", redshirt freshmen Charles Smith and Rodney Wright, cut into Mahanke's playing time.

    Where is Mahanke now? He is a receiver/linebacker in Arena Football 2 for the Bakersfield Blitz. If you missed Mahanke's great game in 1997 vs the Utes and can't make to an Arena 2 game, chances are you still have seen him catch the ball, score touchdowns and of course celebrate, if you play EA Sports NCAA Football or Madden video games.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    What's Next for Big Mac?

    Garrett McIntyre was cut last month by the Seattle Seahawks, and now very few NFL teams are beckoning for his services. The Tahoe Daily Tribune writes that the Baltimore Ravens may be interested in signing the 2005 WAC Defensive Player of the Year. But more intriguing is the vague reference to the Bark Board by the Tribune:

    Some Fresno State football fans have speculated on Internet chat sites that McIntyre may have to switch from end to middle linebacker to enhance his chances of an NFL career.

    Summer Workout Update by fsufever: Lineman, Kicking Game and Injuries

    The FSFB continues with its summer workout updates, which are possible only because of the great work by fsufever. The FSFB gives a big thanks to fsufever, now to the update.

    Offensive Linemen

    While going down the dirt path leading to the Practice Field I saw what appeared to be Grizzly Bear tracks sunk into the dust about 1” deep. While I am an exceedingly brave man I still looked instantly around me and saw only 5 or 6 Offensive Linemen walking 20 yards in front of me. It’s hard to believe that one of them has a foot like that but it must be true. To give you an idea of the actual size, think of a spread open, first baseman’s glove and double it!

    All of the OL have gained in size and weight this year and I would like to have their true poundage and will ask this next week (if I have the nerve…these are some mean looking guys). I do know that Denman is close to 315 pounds (that is not an error) and I have been told that Kyle Young is close to the 330 pound mark. This was told to me by one of the volunteer Offensive Lineman of 2-3 years ago who is helping them with their program. These are not fat people, these are big people. All the other Linemen are big, as well. They all squeezed into tight skin coverings that are massive to look at. They are bigger as individuals and bigger as a Line and I like that.

    Defensive Lineman

    The DL is also big and they are fast. We of course have two large gentlemen in the middle of the line but we also have a lot of big fast DE’s that should help them shoulder the charge put upon them by those despicable other teams. Two of the most physically imposing and perhaps the fastest are Jason Roberts and Ikenna Ike (DE or DT). They are all muscle and have good commitment in practice. Roberts is probably the fastest DL we have (at least I didn’t see anyone beat him in the Line Touch’s). And I would really like to see Ike play some at LB because of his quickness and strength. But let me say that the other DE’s are working hard, so they can start also. Tyler Clutts is usually the first one out there to start working on his quickness and agility and he will be hard to beat. How about Briscoe?

    Also, look at one of our recruits this year named Andrew Jackson out of Grass Valley. His father said the kid came to FSU at 6’5” and 230 lbs. and now he is 6’6” and weighs 260. He’s also only 17 years old. I believe he’s going to out grow DE quickly and may become a Tackle. This looks like a good position for us for the next 2-3 years.

    New Game??

    Now, let us look at a brand new game that is kind of a cross between Rugby, Football and backyard Scuffling. The last three workouts after the OL and DL have done all their drills they have started making rude comments to each other with associated hand signals and some disgusting “mooning” and met on the battlefield to play (?) this new game. It starts with a pass from one Line towards the other and then proceeds somehow by passing, running, pushing, and falling forward towards some imaginary goal line. Did I mention that they pass like little girls? Did I mention that they are not exactly elegant on their feet? Did I mention that their two handed touches would kill the average Rhinoceros even when he is in rut? Well, if I didn’t, I should of because that’s the way they play their little game. But somehow, when all this is accomplished with a touchdown being scored (which is rare) there is much yelling in glee and poor loser cursing that seems to be hugely enjoyed by all. After watching them I believe this is the best exercise a Lineman can perform and perhaps their happiest time. It really is fun to watch.

    The Kicking Game

    I talked to Clint Stitser today and watched him kick and he is feeling fine. I told him we(FS fans) had been concerned but he said not to be. He has been kicking by himself for the past couple of weeks and that explains his disappearance. He said his leg is great and he can’t wait for the season to get here. He had great accuracy and was kicking in the 50-55 yard range.

    Who's the Fastest 'Dog?

    I asked four of our Back’s and two of our Receivers about who was the fastest man on the Team. All of them said Marcus McCauley was the fastest and Paul Williams was probably the second fastest. Then there was some debate about Elgin Simmons and Joe Fernandez being slightly faster than several others. I thought that Paul Williams might only be faster over a longer distance but these guys said this speed was based on 40-60 yards. Anyway, I found this interesting as we have two Receivers and two DB’s sharing this honor.

    Also, I’m continually impressed by Frank Padilla’s speed. He could easily fill in at TB if necessary as he’s light on his feet, moves well left or right and is a good receiver.

    Injury Update

    Sean Norton is still having back problems although he can move better now but with only one more week of Voluntary Summer Workouts I would imagine he will take off until August 4th.

    Marcus Riley is still out and they “hope” he will be back for Fall Practice. I have seen him running so perhaps he’s on his way.

    Vercher was at workouts Monday, Tuesday & Thursday to visit but still is not involved in the games but he is moving around well. Now I understand he is to be married this weekend or next weekend and how is this to affect his return? Because of him not playing at all I’m not sure he will be back by August 4, probably more like the 14th.

    Clifton Smith showed up yesterday for a few minutes but didn’t stick around too long. We’ll just have to see how that works out.

    I haven’t seen Kreig Peters so have no idea there.

    I talked to Vince Mays today and he said he is still rehabilitating his groin but will be out there on August 4th.

    I won’t get into any negative comments but some of the Players that we hoped would fit right in are not in any kind of shape to help us yet. Perhaps a hard Fall Practice will do the trick.

    Final Word

    It’s been an interesting Summer Volunteer Workout season and I see many bright spots but have some reservations about all the Running Backs being healthy.

    On the plus side I see bigger men with more experience on both sides of the Line over last year. I see much deeper reserves of good receivers and I think we have two quarterbacks that “physically and mechanically” are better than the one we had last year. If they can actually direct our Team is yet to be seen.

    I will say that I have seen more interest and enthusiasm by the receivers this year, at any one of the Volunteer Workouts, compared to what I have seen in previous years. They love to run the routes because when they make the cut the Football is right there! It’s exciting to watch in Practice and I certainly believe they will carry this over to the actual games.

    This has been interesting so far but now they must play under the Coaches strict supervision and become better acquainted with system changes. They seem to be motivated -fsufever

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    I Just Ain't Into Yet

    This year is the first year I didn't buy EA Sports NCAA Football since 1996. I have bought every other version since the game's inception in 1993, when it was released under its original name Bill Walsh College Football. However, my son has take the torch per se, and bought his first copy of NCAA Football yesterday. He is eight.

    I have played one game, against him, and I lost. He was Texas and I was Fresno State, 46-41 was the final score. I tried not to beat him too bad and string the game along so he wouldn't get frustrated, but my plan backfired and I got beat.

    It is his game, but of course I can still play it as much as I would have if I had purchased it myself, but the only difference now is the favorite team will be set to Texas and not Fresno State. Don't ask me why my son is a Texas fan. He used to be Michigan fan, but Texas became his favorite team in NCAA Football 2006 and Vince Young became his favorite player. He still likes the 'Dogs, but he lost a lot of respect for the team after they lost to Louisiana Tech to end the regular season.

    I usually stay up all night the first night I play the game and input and update the Fresno State roster and most of the top players in the game. However, this year I really don't have the desire to. I thought about downloading the rosters off the net or sending a memory card off to have someone else download the rosters, but I decided not to. Is it just me or is anyone else getting a little tired of the NCAA game?

    I am not much of video game person to begin with. NCAA is usually the only game I play, but lately I have been playing a lot of GTA: Liberty City Stories. I know I will eventually get into the NCAA playing mode, but for now I will point out what I have noticed about the game concerning Fresno State.

    1. Paul Williams, Marcus McCauley and Marcus Riley are the three impact players. The first two I expected but Riley is a bit of a surprise. Don't get me wrong, Riley is an impact player, but very few people outside of Bulldog fans realize that. I was expecting to see either Dwayne Wright or Dwayne Andrews as the third impact player.
    2. The game lists only five cornerbacks: McCauley, Damon Jenkins, Elgin Simmons and two true freshmen, Damion Owens and AJ Jefferson. Surprisingly, Jenkins is given an 84 rating, just three points lower than McCauley. Huh? And, Jenkins is listed as No. 20 in the game not No. 25.
    3. Brandstater is listed as the starter and Norton is the backup but the third rated quarterback. He is rated behind Brandstater and Christensen.
    4. James Paulk, No. 71, is black not white like the game depicts him. I could be mistaken. May be I was looking at the wrong player, remember I have only played the game once. And he was the starter in the game, even though he was out of shape and only practiced one week during spring.
    5. Joe Bernardi was in last year's game as a true freshman despite grayshirting, yet he is not in this year's game.
    6. Noticeable absence of wide receivers Jason Crawley and Marlin Moore, incoming defensive end Michael Stuart and incoming true freshman running back Lonyae Miller.

    These are just a few things I will change and update when I get around to inputting the roster on NCAA.

    Fall Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

    The season is inching closer and before you know fall camp will begin. August 4 is the magic day and it is time the FSFB breaks down the units.

  • Who's Gone: Paul Pinegar
  • Who's In: Tom Brandstater 6' 5 220, So. or Sean Norton 5' 11 175, So.
  • Who's Riding the Pine: Ryan Colburn 6' 3 220, Fr.
  • Who to Look Out For: Norton
  • Who Else Will See Time: Jordan Christensen 6' 3 190

    All of the national preseason college football magazines are expecting a drop-off at the quarterback position with the departure of four-year starter Paul Pinegar. On paper how can you argue with them when you consider Pinegar's stats? He capped his career with his best statistical season, 265-416 for 3335 yards 30 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. As well, he is only the second Bulldog quarterback (Kevin Sweeney is the other) to pass for over 10,000 yards, holds the school record for career touchdown passes (86), is the only Bulldog quarterback to start four bowl games and the only one to win more than two bowl games. That is pretty impressive, on paper, when you consider current NFL quarterbacks Trent Dilfer, Billy Volek and David Carr played at Fresno State.

    As you can see, it is very easy to think that it will be difficult for Fresno State to find a replacement. What compounds the issue is the fact that the four quarterbacks in waiting have a combined 74 passing yards and just one touchdown. Who has seen these kids play? Not the writers of the national preseason magazines, that is for sure. Because if they had, they wouldn't make it seem that Bulldogs are in a state of flux. There is going to be the usual transition, but it is going to be lot smoother than it was in 2002, the last time Fresno State broke in a new quarterback.

    Brandstater is the favorite heading into fall camp, but Norton is not going to concede the job to Brandstater so easily. Brandstater has the pro size and pro arm; in short, he is the prototypical Bulldog pro-style quarterback. Norton, on the other hand, is the undersized underdog, just like the Bulldog football program. Colburn, baring any major injury to Norton or Brandstater, will likely redshirt. Christensen will continue to be the holder on PATs. However, Christensen is able to fill in if needed in an emergency.

    I would not want to be Pat Hill this fall. I would not want to be the one hat has to choose a starter between Brandstater and Norton. Either one of these talented athletes is capable of succeeding Pinegar and leading the Bulldogs to their first WAC outright title. But who is it going to be?

    Hill is a believer in choosing a starter and sticking with his guy through thick or thin. Is it stupid or is it smart? Hill's decision no doubt will divide Bulldog fans. One side will be Brandstater supporters and on the other side will be the pro Norton camp. Norton is destined to be fan favorite, while Brandstater could be next Pinegar if he starts chucking the ball to wrong colored jerseys.

    Spring practice really did not separate one quarterback from another. In fact it created more of concern among fans than anything. Neither quarterback had a great spring game, nor impressed Bulldog fans in attendance. Coaches on the other hand were still left with two good quarterbacks and no clear cut favorite.

    Most pundits will agree the quarterback job is Brandstater's to lose based on his experience, although limited, and size. Has the college football world, or Bulldog coaches for that matter, not figured out that quarterback size is somewhat overrated? Doug Flutie won a Heisman, broke the NCAA career passing record and orchestrated one of the greatest plays in college football history. Ryan Dinwiddie torched Hill and Fresno State for three years and is the NCAA career leader in passing efficiency. They were not the most highly decorated quarterbacks coming out of high school because of their size but they ruled the college game. I am not saying Hill is not going to start Norton because of his size, but it is common knowledge that the odds are against Norton because of his size.

    If Norton was just a bit taller, Fresno State would have never signed him out of Newhall Hart High School in 2004. The former Parade All-American and CalHi State Player of the Year is arguably the best quarterback to come out of the famed Santa Clarita area program. Hart has produced some great quarterbacks including current Baltimore Raven Kyle Boller. Is Norton all hype? One would probably think that, if he/she has never seen Norton play. In my opinion, Norton is probably the most gifted passer ever to step foot in Bulldog Stadium, but that alone shouldn't automatically make him the starter.

    Brandstater throws a beautiful deep ball and is a lot more mobile than Pinegar was. However, Brandstater can not throw on the run, nor throw on line as well Norton. Mechanics and talent is going to be an issue, but more importantly who is going to be the better leader?

    In summer workouts Brandstater has been taking reps with the first team offense, and has taken charge of his team per se. The players seem to respect his leadership and follow his lead. Norton is working with a combo unit made of up of first and second team players. Norton is a natural born leader, and most who have seen him play will agree with that statement.

    The real question as the team heads into fall camp is will Norton have a fair shot at the job. The Fresno Bee's Matt James was saying on SNR 1550 that he is working on a story about Norton and the likelihood that he may never start at Fresno State despite being the program's first and only Parade All-American. If Hill names Brandstater the starter in 2006, what are the chances of Norton playing as the back up? If Hill sticks to his guns, the answer is slim or none.

    The one thing Bulldog fans must remember is this year's quarterback will be physically better than Pinegar. He will not have Pinegar's experience, but will be able to make throw's Pinegar could only dream about making. And in my opinion Pinegar was never a great leader on the field. This year's quarterback will "lead" the team.

    It really doesn't matter who Hill chooses, as long as his choice wins the job. It would be shame to see Brandstater win the job by default. But it would be a disgrace to see Brandstater lose game after game with poor play when a talented and capable Norton is just watching from the sidelines. Hill may have stuck with Pinegar in past because there was no one else that was capable of filling in, however, that will not be the case in 2006.

          • Sunday, July 16, 2006

            Summer Workout Update by fsufever: Running Backs

            Running Backs: This year has not shown the full turnout of the Running Backs for the “volunteer” workouts but the ones attending have been there every day.

            First let us look at how the Workouts are setup and how they work.

            Each positional group of Players goes to a different location on the Practice Field where they might do some pushups, knee bends, etc. to get loose. They then split into two man stretching periods that may last 8-10 minutes or longer if someone requires a little more work. From there they proceed into predetermined drills depending on their Positions and work on the Basics that pertain to those Positions. RBs will do various agility drills requiring footwork and movement and then go through several different types of pass receptions and first step setups for moving against the Defense. This is done for a specified time period and takes up about an hour total.

            Then they move into the area that is used for actually running different plays that are standard and done over and over and are tied in with the QBs and Receivers on Offense and with the LB’s and DB’s on Defense. The DL and OL are not involved in the first part of this type of work and come into the combined workouts after a scheduled amount of time.

            The RBs carry the ball or block during this time period but there is none or minimal actual contact so it’s impossible to judge strength or balance or blocking in an accurate manner. It does give an insight into their speed and agility however and we look very good in that regard.

            Now, lets look at the Running Backs that have been at these Workouts.

            1. Dwayne Wright is totally recovered and is in charge of all the other RBs during the workouts. He runs them through stretches, drills, pass receiving and carrying the ball. He also gives those hands-on help on moves, footwork and how they should see the field. He’s still a little heavy but plans on dropping a few pounds during the intense fall workouts and will probably be around 230 to start the season. I’m sure we can expect to see him perform as well as he did before being hurt which is very, very good.

            2. Shannon Dorsey looks even stronger this year at 190 and he plans on adding about 5 pounds more before the season starts. He has a very nice looking, fluid movement with good speed and runs to the hole well. Great acceleration.

            3. Rich Owens is heavier this year at about 215 or slightly more and always seems to be finding holes to run through. He has a smooth running motion and seems to just run by people. He will be a definite, dependable asset for us. Right now I don’t know who will start ahead of whom or how the missing players will measure up when they do show up but the Coaches will soon sort that out.

            4. Frank Padilla is a big, fast, strong, smooth Fullback who can catch the ball. He moves very well and is not afraid to block anybody. This MAN is ready if Roshon Vercher cannot start the season for us.

            5. Nate Adams has been hard to find and I’ve only seen him at two Workouts this summer. He doesn’t have the speed that Padilla has but he is also a big strong guy and he does have some experience.

            6. Aaron De La Rosa is a lot like Matt Rivera was two years ago but he is a very hard worker and I believe we will see him on the field in another year or two. Very shifty and a good pass Receiver and is always open to suggestions from the other Backs.

            The above guys are the only ones at the Workouts but some of the Walk-ons probably have to work during the summer to pay the bills. I know Vercher, Clifton Smith and Kreig Peters are recovering from injuries and Vercher and Peters expect to be back for Practice this Fall (and I expect them to) but if they don’t make it then Coach Hill won’t let them play until they get full practice time under their belt.

            I know Clifton Smith is hoping to be back by the Oregon game but I haven’t seen him at all lately and I heard he is still favoring his leg while rehabilitating. He said he’s worked on his leg strength but not conditioning since his injury and that it will take him a while to build back up. However, if he is not back running full speed by August 20th then I don’t see him being able to play judging by other Players returns from injuries.

            If Kreig Peters has recovered I believe we will see a lot of him because of his speed and moves. He ran through the Defense consistently during the Sunday night Scrimmages last year. He was about the only RB that Marshall couldn’t catch when he got through the line and he’s also muscled up since last year and worked a lot on his upper body while rehabilitating his knee.

            Lonyae Miller is now working out with the Team and he is a Full Grown Man. He is totally lost out there but is giving his all and by the time August 4th comes around he should be good to go. Very strong looking individual, when I first saw him I thought I was looking into a mirror.-

            Missing or Resting?

            I haven’t seen Clint Stitser for over a week except this past Tuesday in the Parking Lot. He had on civilian clothes and was getting into a car just as the other guys were going to the field. I’m hoping he just took some time off to go home or he’s practicing before or after regular workouts. He had been absolutely booming the ball up to 8-10 days ago and I hope he just decided to rest up a little. I will find out this Monday and let the Blog know what’s happening.

            Friday, July 14, 2006

            Summer Workout Update by fsufever

            1. Quarterbacks: We have all four QBs working out each Practice and they fall into this unofficial rating.

            Tom Brandstater is the acknowledged leader of the Football Team on these Summer Practices and works as the First String QB. He has continued to improve his passing accuracy, even showing marked improvement over Spring Training. He’s developed a better touch on the short passes and has even improved on the longer ones. The Team seems to follow his leadership without reservation and that is a very telling thing. Another point I might bring out is he has very good speed in the open field and is faster and more fluid that Pinegar was.

            Sean Norton is working with the Second String or mixture with the First and doing a very good job. In my opinion he is still the best passer, having an array of hard and soft passes. He is able to throw it high or low, or left or right as needed and able to throw at a full run going in either direction. He also has that rare ability to see the whole field and change Receivers as necessary. We’ll just have to wait for things to work themselves out starting August 4.

            Ryan Colburn and Jordan Christensen are going to be the redshirt and the holder on PATs this year, respectively. Colburn is doing well but he’s just like Brandstater and Norton were their first years. He’s big and strong but needs a lot of work. Christensen (who has the most muscular body on the football team) has an ugly passing motion but he still throws as catchable ball as either of the first two.

            Now, what I’ve said above is based on Workouts that are being held without pads and very little physical contact so we’re not getting an absolutely true reading on what these guys can do but it’s weighted towards what we can expect. I want to say that I still lean towards Norton as the Starter but I certainly believe that Brandstater will do us an outstanding job if he is chosen by Coach Hill and I will not be overly upset by it.

            Now for the bad news: Norton was favoring his back earlier this week and today was almost totally unable to even bend over. I mean it hurt to watch him! The good news is he’s about 19-20 years old and they never stay hurt. It looked like a weight training injury to me as Monday and Tuesday he was doing certain moves that seemed to be testing the back. He seems to have good turning ability but cannot bend at all. He had to stand on the sidelines today and watch and he hated it! Also, to show the human side of practice and what can go wrong we had an interesting happening today. After Brandstater had thrown a very good string of completions he then threw three interceptions for Touchdowns in a ROW. So he decided he would slip in a running play and the RB fumbled, the ball was picked out of the air and IT was run in for another Touchdown. So then he had Colburn come in and the first pass he threw was intercepted. Brandstater then lined up as a Receiver and put a very nice slow and go move on the DB, made a great catch and ran it in for a Touchdown and spiked the ball. He yelled “That’s the way to play Football!” Those things happen and I don’t mean it to reflect on Brandstater’s good play overall. It was actually probably good for the team’s bonding because of the Defense coming up so big for 5 consecutive plays.

            2. Receivers: Paul Williams and Joe Fernandez are the big boys right now but Chastin West and Jason Crawley are looking very good. Ciccone and a couple of new guys (I still don’t know their names) are showing well and we seem to be fairly deep in good, quick guys. Seyi Ajirotutu has been recovering from knee problems but is now doing the stairs and some running and says he will be back full force for the fall season. These guys are real serious about getting playing time and they are all in great physical condition. All the Receivers seem to have really hit the weight room and are packed with muscle; they are not going to be taken down or moved out of their routes very easily. I would have to believe that our Passing Game will be better than last year if we can get a decent start and build some confidence with the new personnel. -fsufever

            The Largest in the West?

            The south end zone scoreboard has seen better days.

            Fresno State is installing a new 1.3 million dollar state of the art scoreboard in the north end of Bulldog Stadium. Various corporate sponsors are footing the bill. The plan is for the new scoreboard to be ready for use September 30 vs. Colorado State. Too bad the University could not have been on the ball and had it ready for the season opener on ESPN against Nevada. Or at least for the following week against Pac 10 power Oregon. The scoreboard will supposedly be the largest one on the West Coast and will feature a 72 x 51 foot video screen.

            The current Fresno State scoreboard is located in the south end zone and was constructed in 1991. At the time of construction it was one of the most modern scoreboards in the nation. That scoreboard was capable of showing video replays and was supposed to be converted in 1992 to do so. However, the plan to convert the board into a video screen never happened and Fresno State's "new" scoreboard became quickly outdated.

            In 2001 the University rented a temporary video board for the home opener on ESPN against No. 10 Oregon State. A large crane, in the north end zone, suspended the video board. That board was used for a majority of the 2001 season and sporadically for the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons. Last season the University installed a temporary video board atop the small north end scoreboard, and for once Bulldog Stadium had a modern look.

            Athletic Director Thomas Boeh announced to Bark Board readers a couple of months ago that the University was in the process of installing a state of the art scoreboard and artificial playing surface for Bulldog Stadium.

            .......In the meantime, we hope to initiate a few other modest-with-high-impact improvements to Bulldog Stadium in the next 18 months. Included in the plan is a state-of-the-art scoreboard/video wall for the north end, a rubber-filled artificial playing surface (eg: AstrPlay, FieldTurf, etc.), and enhanced amenities such as restrooms and concession stands. Look for the plan later this summer.

            Is field turf next and new restrooms and concessions next?

            ***update*** Like always, the wrong information is leaked before the official University release. The new scoreboard will not be the largest in the West and the video screen will be a paltry 24x32, but at least it will LED, but there is no mention of HD capabilities. And another LED video board will replace an existing message board at the corner of Cedar and Barstow. The cost for both will be 1.6 million, not 1.3.****update***

            Wednesday, July 12, 2006

            Culver Signs

            Former Bulldog free safety Tyrone Culver has signed a deal with the Green Bay Packers. The sixth round choice is the third Packer draft choice to sign with the team thus far.

            The four-time academic all-WAC selection has already been referred to as a "coach" on the field because of his field smarts. He will more than likely contribute on special teams in 2006. Green Bay signed free safety Marquand Manuel (Seahawks) in the off-season.

            Tuesday, July 11, 2006

            Walk Ons

            Pat Hill is synonymous for producing top flight talent, and many of his best players were former walk ons. Logan Mankins, Stephan Spach, Garrett McIntyre, and Bryson Sumlin are just a few of the names Hill turned into great college contributors and legitimate NFL prospects.

            Stockton Edison running back/defensive back Desia Dunn plans to join the Fresno State football team as an invited walk-on this fall. Could Dunn be the next great Bulldog walk on? His high school numbers are not eye-popping, but then again neither were Sumlin's. Dunn will probably redshirt if he sticks it out, but then again McIntyre was supposed to redshirt as a true freshman in 2002. Fresno State is thin at cornerback per se, outside of Marcus McCauley, no other cornerback is assured of playing time.

            Saturday, July 08, 2006

            "Disaster" Quarterback

            Former Fresno State defensive tackle Del Hawkins returns to Fresno tonight for an Arena Football 2 football game. His Stockton Lighting team takes on the Central Valley Coyotes at 7:30 pm in Selland Arena. Hawkins plays defensive line, linebacker, fullback, and he's the Lightning's "disaster" quarterback, a testament to his versatility.

            Hawkins was a defensive tackle at Fresno State from 1999-2003. His most productive season was in 2002, when he started seven games and had 33 tackles, including two sacks. He redshirted in 1999 and played in just two games as a freshman in 2000. In 2001 he played in all 14 games mostly on special teams, but filled in for injured starting defensive tackle Jason Stewart for four games. Ironically, Hawkins injury in the 2002 opener at Wisconsin paved the way for walk on true freshman Garrett McIntyre. McIntyre's great play cut into Hawkins' playing time in 2003, but Hawkins still finished with 25 tackles his senior year.

            Thursday, July 06, 2006

            2007 Recruiting Board: Valley Prospects

            Year after year the Valley is becoming a hot recruiting ground for Division IA prospects. Most pundits argue the 2007 class will not be as strong nor has deep as the 2006 class. The Valley's top prospect is Edison's cornerback Courtney Viney. The four star prospect has already committed to UCLA, and continues a trend of top Valley talent leaving home to play their college ball.

            Merced is loaded with IA prospects. Heading into the fall six Merced players are considered IA prospects and all are considering Fresno State. Brothers Logan and Carter Todd(at right) get the most headlines. Logan is a three star quarterback that has yet to get an offer but Fresno State remains atop his list of schools with California. Carter is considered one of the best wide receivers in the state but is a mystery to many why the all-state talent has just one offer from Nevada. Fresno State is still one of his favorites, but the Pac 10 will be calling at the end of the season. On the 1550 SNR this morning Carter said he has no preference between the Pac 10 and the WAC.

            In my opinion, the top prospect out of Merced is safety Dion Bland. By season's end Bland will be one of the top safeties in California. Unfortunately, because of that he'll probably choose a BCS school over Fresno State. Merced has two great offensive lineman Michael Chambers and Kyle Davidson. Chambers is being sought after by many Pac 10 schools, but Fresno State remains one his favorites. Davidson is flying a bit under the radar. He likes Fresno State along with some Pac 10 schools. The final Merced IA prospect is running back Garrett Turner. Turner is starting to gain notice after great spring workouts. He is only 5'8 and most schools want him to play defense. Yet, he would like to play running back in college and his early favorites include Fresno State along with some Pac 10 schools. Turner's grades could be an issue, and one of the main reasons schools have yet to offer.

            Bakersfield has two great prospects in OL Justin Cheadle and DB Phillip Thomas. Both received offers from Fresno State back in February. However, Cheadle has received 12 other offers since then and his interest in Fresno State has fallen. Thomas on the other hand, still likes Fresno State.

            It is no secret Fresno State really wants to sign Hanford's talented running back Avery Horn. FS offered him early on, but Horn has added numerous offers since. Big time powers Nebraska and Michigan have offered him, along with about half of the Pac 10. Despite the hype, Horn still list Fresno State atop his list of colleges with Nebraska a close second. Former Fresno State offensive line coach and current Nebraska offensive line coach Dennis Wagner coached Horn's father at UNLV.

            Buchanan's Jory Mason is rising fast and considered one of the top OL prospects in Central California. His top five schools include Fresno State. Kingsburg quarterback Forrest Hunt had a great spring. He was named the top quarterback at EA Sports Elite 11 regional camp in Los Angeles back in April. He favors some Pac 10 schools, but still is considering one of his favorites Fresno State.

            Mount Whitney defensive back/running back Damon Bly caught the attention of scouts at the U.S. Army All-American Combine in San Antonio back in January. He has yet to receive any offers and Fresno State is still a possibility. Clovis East had four linebackers in San Antonio for the Combine, as well: Erin Banks, Alex Cabatic, Jacob Moreno and Armando Vasquez. Cabatic and Vasquez list Fresno State among their favorites, but Banks and Moreno have no favorites at this time.

            This year the Valley has some really under the radar prospects that have Fresno State ties. Exeter's Vince Pascoe is a hard nosed fullback/defensive tackle, and is the cousin of Bulldog tight end Bear Pascoe. Hill's own son Zak is underrated wide receiver/defensive back out of Clovis West. It's Hill's offspring; you know he has the heart to play Bulldog football.

            Besides Viney and Cheadle there are only two other top Valley prospects that have no real interest in being a Bulldog and there are Fresno's Johnny Fields and Bakersfield West's Ryan Matthews. The cornerback caught the attention of schools at the Los Angeles Combine. Fresno State is the hometown school, but Fields likes the Pac 10 and Florida. Matthews is being recruited as an athlete. He favors Arizona State and holds an early offer from the Sun Devils.

            Honestly, can you blame those four? If an education is your goal and you have the opportunity to attend UCLA, Cal, or Arizona State, would you turn it down? I love my alma mater, but I'll admit a UC degree carries more weight when it comes to the career world. However, you can't ignore Hill's success developing Valley talent into top notch college players and NFL draft picks. Fresno State has to become more than just the hometown school. It has to become the dream school for every young Valley football player from Modesto to Bakersfield. FS can never compete academically with the Pac 10, but on the field the gap is narrowing every year.

            Monday, July 03, 2006

            No More Lame Stories

            When Fresno State kicked off the 100 days of football campaign, Pat Hill stated that there would be a new story every day about Bulldog football on I know Hill was just reading what was handed to him, but the athletic department and/or CSTV has to be accountable for taking their sweet time posting the new stories.

            Up to this point, 40 days have passed since Hill's announcement, most of the stories have been for the lack of a better word, lame. I don't want to hear about specials at the Bulldog shop, season ticket offers, or watch highlight clips that show little or no highlights. I can shop at Champs Sports or online for Bulldog apparel, I can call the ticket office for information on season tickets (278-DOGS), and toadlife already puts together kick-ass highlight clips of Bulldog football.

            However, with less than two months before the season opener, has finally posted something worth reading. Granted much of the story is common knowledge for Bulldog football fans, but for most, it is information that is often overlooked.

            Sunday, July 02, 2006

            In the Computer Age, Hill Prefers the Personal Touch

            Text messaging is the latest craze among colleges coaches. Mostly because the NCAA has yet to put a ban on the number of text messages a coach can send to a prospect. A coach may not be able to call a recruit every waking moment, but he can sure text him.

            However, Pat Hill prefers the handwritten note:

            "Mine is more of a personal touch," Hill said. "I'm not into texting or e-mailing. A lot of it after a while gets repetitious. I think we've lost that personal touch with the computer age."

            Saturday, July 01, 2006

            Football Scheduling 101

            I caught a little bit of the Dog Zone on ESPN 1430 yesterday afternoon. Paul and Kelly were complaining about the BCS schools that keep backing out of their contracts with Fresno State. This discussion is on the heels of the announcement of Kansas's decision to drop their home and home with Fresno. They had Asst. AD Steve Weakland and former Bulldog and Chicago Bear Cameron Worrell as guests. AD Thomas Boeh joined the discussion via phone for his weekly Bulldog Business Report.

            Besides Kansas, Paul and Kelly were bashing Kansas State because they got a report that KSU was planning to skip their trip to Fresno in 2007. Where in the hell did they hear that from? Sure KSU has a new head coach in Ron Prince. Prince is different than former head coach Bill Snyder. He is not a fan of the creampuff schedule. Prince has stated “big name” games will be the rule not the exception. I guess Paul and Kelly didn't realize that Fresno State just recently moved their 2007 date from September 1 to September 22 to accommodate the Wildcats, as well.

            Boeh was sure to point out all those bits of info to the ESPN boys. That is why I listen to 1550 SNR. Tony and the gang never releases skeptical info or take skeptical info to heart. If Tony does, he mentions that the source is not the best. Paul and Kelly, on the other hand, were ranting like school-age boys about how much they hate K-State. I found it funny when Boeh put them in their place. But Kelly Carr still had to add his two cents with his, "I still hate Kansas State" statement." Boeh asked him why, and Kelly said with hesitance, "Because…they’re not Fresno State."

            Anyways Boeh began to lay the law when it came to football scheduling at the DI level. He said there are three levels of teams you can schedule. The bottom level is DIAA teams, next is the non-BCS DIA schools and at the top is the BCS schools. Boeh also pointed out there is even separation among the BCS schools, the top 10 variety and the middle of the pack. He gave examples of Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan and etc. of top BCS teams that rarely leave their stadium for an out of conference game. Then he talked about the Iowa States and Washington States of the world battling it out among them.

            Kelly asked Boeh about the San Diego State series that is listed on future schedules. Boeh said there was never any "paper" with San Diego State just some verbals and handshakes. He also said he was unaware of the series being listed on WTF? He has been the AD for a year, and he has yet to notice the errors or inept information on I won't bag on him too much. He is heads and shoulders above Scott Johnson, and compared to Johnson he does work on issues besides women's basketball.

            Boeh pointed out that Fresno State having Oregon, Kansas State and Wisconsin coming to Bulldog Stadium in consecutive years is as good as it gets for non-BCS schools. What is funny is all those series were contracts set up by Johnson. Boeh has yet to ink any deals with BCS schools. He did say a series with Washington State is a possibility. Paul and Kelly were puzzled why Oregon would come to Fresno but WSU won't. For those who don't know, WSU and FS has long term series scheduled from 1994-1998. FS traveled to WSU in 1994 and WSU was to travel to Fresno in 1996. WSU opted out of the 1996 game to play at Colorado in an ABC national TV game instead. Johnson cancelled the rest of the series with WSU, but I believe WSU was willing to come to Fresno another year. Johnson refused and refused to schedule any future games with Washington State.

            Boeh will do his best to get games with BCS schools, but quite honestly the used car salesman mentality of Johnson is what killed most of the games set up in previous years. My guess is the WSU series, if it happens, will be a two for one. With FS traveling to Pullman one year, WSU coming to Fresno the next and the final game at neutral Seattle's Seahawks Stadium. Boeh mentioned that type of two for ones series is one of the creative ways of scheduling a non-BCS has to do. However, he didn't rule out the possibility of having a BCS team playing Fresno State in a Bay Area venue, but said, why when "we" can get a school like Wisconsin to play in Bulldog Stadium.