Thursday, August 31, 2006
In case anyone doesn't know that is Bulldog stadium on the left. It isn't the largest of stadiums nor is it the most beautiful. But it is the home to our Fresno State Bulldogs. That in itself should be enough to sell out our home games yearly. Fresno only hosts six home games a season at the most. This season we have Nevada, Oregon, Hawaii, and Colorado State on our home schedule. It would not surprise me one bit to see all of those games with open seats throughout the stadium. Bulldog stadium seats close to 44,000 people. In the central valley and surrounding cities there are close to one million people total. Fresno State is the only Division one school in the central valley with a college football team that is competitive with the big boys year in and year out. Fresno State puts player upon player into the NFL and has an outside shot at having three Bulldogs drafted in the top two rounds in 2007. But you know what I am willing to bet? I bet every one of you so called Fresno fans that we do not sell out more than one game at home. In order to sell out a game only five percent of the central valley would have to attend them game, yet we still cannot find way to get people to the games.
Fresno State does everything in their power to get people out to watch the games. They offer ticket prices that are reasonable and actually offer verious specials yearly to get us to fill the stadium to capacity. This year they are offering four game ticket plans for 89 dollars and are even allowing you to see Hawaii, Oregon, and Colorado State in that package. For the Nevada game fans were able to buy four packs for 60 dollars. Four people could go to Bulldog stadium on Friday and enjoy a Bulldog game (one of the best sources of entertainment in the valley) for 15 dollars a piece. I don't vent often but this is one situation that has always bothered me. Last year we played La. Tech with the WAC title on the line and the attendance was a disgrace to the football program (36,000 fans but there were far less in the stadium). In fact we did not sell out one game last season. We couldn't even sell out the Boise State game which by all means is one of the most important games of the year.
I hear Fresno fans complaining that we do not get enough media coverage. I hear Fresno fans complaining that we do not have the facilities to compete with the bigger schools. Well Fresno fans you are correct; we don't have these amazing facilities or the great tv and media coverage schools such as the Pac-10 do. But do you know where it starts with? It starts with us as fans. If we cannot sell out games now, why do you clamor for a bigger stadium? Do you think knowing that Bulldog stadium has a capacity of 55,000 will change the way fans flock to the game? All I am saying is support Fresno State win or lose. Look at these big schools you want to compare the Dogs to. Tennessee had a horrible season last year, yet when you look at there attendance it is always near full capacity. In Tennessee they may not have been happy with the 2005 season, but they supported their team none the less.
In the end I am asking fans to support Fresno State. Obviously my blog is not going to be the reason why Bulldog games all of the sudden sell out. But just think about it; If there were 36,000 fans in the stadium and you brought one guest for every four that showed up, you just sold out the stadium. It doesn't take much effort to do. My friend and I both bought two sets of season tickets so we could add to the core group that goes to the games. We started out with two tickets five years ago and now our friendly section is up to twelve. Next season I know it is going to expand to sixteen people. Just advertise Fresno State. They are going to be a good team, and it will be well worth it to watch them. But Bulldog fans, watch the Dogs whether they win or lose. One day they will not lose a game and you will feel good because you supported them throughout the good times and the bad. We could be Idaho, or New Mexico State. We could have very little direction. Instead we are Fresno State and personally I am proud to be a Bulldog fan. All of you true Bulldog fans should be as well.
Note - My above comment referring to true Bulldog fans, well if you are readin this blog I am not putting you down. I know there are plenty of true fans out there, we just have to get others interested.
Nevada will have an excellent kick return game as long as Hubbard's hands are on the ball. If you don't remember Hubbard just think back to 2005. Hubbard is the back that ran all over the Fresno State defense. Hubbard is an exciting athlete and has speed that is hard to counter. Fresno State will have to rely on Stitser to kick the ball through or into the end zone in order to limit the amount of yards Hubbard can gain on kickoffs. Nevada's field goal kicker Brett Jaekle had a decent 80% kicking rate in 2005 as he was 12 of 15. However only two of those field goal attempts were from 40 or longer. Nevada lost it's punter and will have to begin from scratch with respect to this part of the special teams game. Overall Fresno State will have the special teams advantage. If Fresno State can make one or two big plays on special teams look for this game to swing in favor of the Dogs in the end.
Special Teams Advantage - Fresno State
Prediction - This is going to be as close as the odds makers have deemed it to be. The line on the game began at -11.5 points in favor of the Wolfpack. However, that has steadily gone down over the past few weeks. Today the line sits at -6.5 in the Wolfpack's favor. In other words Nevada is getting 6.5 points in this game. I honestly feel that this game will come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Jeff Rowe will be able to dictate his pace on offense if he gets time to throw. He is experienced and makes plenty of great throws. He will only get better as the season moves along so in a sense it is good that Fresno State opens with Nevada this season. Fresno State is going to try and run the ball continuously in order to control the clock. With a quarterback who has little experience the Bulldogs will rely on Dwayne Wright to get them downfield. If the run game is not effective this game could very well go South for the Bulldogs. In the end Fresno State should have enough to pull this one out at home. The Bulldogs usually play outstanding football to start the season and being at home will only help the cause. That being said don't be surprised if Nevada walks out of Fresno with a win in an upset.
Prediction -Fresno State 31 Nevada 24
Well we have finally reached the end of the line, the college football season begins today. All Bulldog fans show up tomorrow and support the Dogs. Let's fill the stadium and show this Fresno State team we are behind them.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
I have to admit that I do not know how good Nevada's d-line is. I do know that they can be eaten up on the pass and can be run on quite frequently. While Nevada was able to score points in large amounts last year they also could give up points in a hurry. Fresno played an awful game against Nevada in 2005 yet put up 35 points in their game. Nevada returns two of it's defensive lineman in Charles Wilson and Matt Hines. Hines and Wilson combined for 6 sacks and 60 tackles on the season. However, Nevada will have to find a way to replace their team leader in both tackles and sacks in Roosevelt Cooks. Cooks accounted for 98 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2005. Nevada also lost another big defensive cog in Craig Bailey who accounted for 27 tackles and 4 sacks on the season. Nevada is going to have a hard time up front stopping the Bulldogs run game. The Bulldogs offensive line will wear down Nevada's defense with Versher and Wright coming at them play after play. With all that Nevada has lost I just don't see any way that their defensive line will be able to stop the Bulldogs running game.
Defensive Line Advantage - Fresno State
Linebackers - At one time Fresno State looked to have an experienced Linebacker core that had the talent to stop anyone on the field. The status of the Bulldogs linebacker core has unfortunately changed dramaticaly since practice began. With Riley and Brown out that leaves the Dogs with two experienced starters in Goodwin and Andrews. Now don't get me wrong, Goodwin and Andrews are solid Linebackers with Andrews being one of our top defensive talents. However, last year when Riley went down against USC it became apparent how important it was to have him on the weakside to stop the run. Before Riley went down the defense gave up an average of 14 points per game. After Riley's injury the defense gave up 39 points per game. It's no surprise that Reggie Bush did most of his damage against Fresno State last year after halftime when Riley came out of the game due to injury. How Fresno State replaces Riley is going to be the key to the Linebacking core this season. Brown would have provided a suitable replacement as he has size and speed to combat the opposing team's rushing game. Instead Ahjah Lane and Trevor Shamblee will have to pick up the slack at LB for the Bulldogs. Regardless of who plays this season at LB it will be an upgrade to Manual Sanchez who had various problems reading the run. Sanchez has departed and although he had heart and played tough he was out of position at LB. Nevada will have an opportunity to run their TE's at Fresno State's LB core. How Nevada matches up with Fresno's LB's might very well tell how the pace of this game will go.
Nevada returns all three of their LB's for this game against Fresno State. Nevada's LB's (Demars, Mauga, and Butler) combined for 146 tackles and eight sacks on the season. While Fresno's D-line is going to be their greatest asset in this game, Nevada's returning LB's may very well be their biggest strength. However, as I mentioned earlier Nevada is susceptable to giving up the big play over the middle. While Nevada's LB's have experience they tend to gamble when going for the ball. If Fresno can run reverses and counters they should find that the running room will be there play after play. Nevada may have the edge in the Linebacking core if for no reason other than experience. This facet of the game would tilt towards Fresno State if the Bulldogs returned all LB"s and were healthy but that is not the case this season. Regardless Fresno's O-line will be able to open holes for the running game and gain large amounts of yardage with Wright.
Lineback Advantage - Even
Secondary - Anyone who knows me at all will realize I believe McCauley is the single best corner we have ever had at Fresno State. I truly feel like there is no way that Nevada will be able to get the ball to their number one receiver Caleb Spencer. McCauley does not gamble as Marshall did and hits ferociously when the ball is caught. He will give the offense a two to three yard window but has amazing closing speed as witnessed in the game against USC. Very rarely is McCauley beaten downfield and when someone does get by him he will make them pay when they catch the ball (anyone remember the Tulsa game last season?) However, opposite of McCauley will be the challenge this season with the departure of Marshall (we wish him the best at Carolina). Jenkins and Simmons will vie for the other corner spot. At the moment Jenkins looks to have played his way onto the field much more than thought at the starting of camp. One positive is this corner will get every team's #2 receiver as McCauley will draw the #1. This should help soften the blow of starting for the first time for either Simmons or Jenkins. Regardless our corners will be some of the speediest corners in the nation this season as McCauley is the fastest player on the team being clocked at an amazing 4.3 40. Jenkins and Simmons can both fly as well. Thankfully Fresno State will return two safeties in Mays and Shirley. In other words Fresno will have three of the four secondary positions returning with experiencing. It is to bad that Marshall decided to leave because if he hadn't the Bulldogs would have one of the top secondary's in the WAC, if not the nation. Nevada will have a very hard time throwing the ball in the 15 to 20 yard range. Deep downfield on McCauley's side is almost non existant as an option for Nevada. If Nevada throws downfield they will have to attack Jenkins/Simmons side of the field in order to accomplish any kind of mid to deep passing attack.
Nevada returns one safety and one corner. Villasenor only registered 18 tackles last season but is a safety. Garcia on the other hand as corner registered 72 tackles and did all he could to solidify a run defense that was a mess for most of the season. Nevada did win nine games last season but their defense was not the reason for this. If Fresno can attack the corners they will have a large amount of success throwing to Fernandez and Williams. Williams will be matched up with Garcia and has a two inch height advantage, not to mention Williams has the leaping ability that many in the college ranks cannot compete with. Brandstater will have to find Williams early and often to open up the running game against Nevada. If Brandstater can find Williams, Fernandez, and Fairman against a weak pass defense Fresno will be able to run the ball down Nevada's throat. Fresno has a chance to beat the spread easily but only if Brandstater performs up to expectations. The Bulldogs have the edge in the secondary as their speed and experience should help them against Nevada.
Secondary Advantage - Fresno State
Next: 8/31 Special Teams and Game Prediction
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Nevada returns two receivers in Caleb Spencer and Kyle Sammons that combined for 94 catches and 1259 yards on the season. Spencer is Rowe's go to man and will draw McCauley as a defensive assignment. Rowe will have to find other options at receiver due to the fact that McCauley is a lock down corner and will shut down Spencer for most of the game. How Nevada replaces Nichirin Flowrs will be important to how effective they are offensively against Fresno State. Flowers did not have the greatest of years but always played big against Fresno State. Nevada will have to find someone else to go to just as they used Flowers against us in 2005. If they do not they will have a long frustrating night against the dogs defense.
Wide Receiver Advantage - Fresno State
Tight Ends - Fresno State has not been known to use the tight end as successfully as they might have hoped to over the last couple of years. However, this season may be far different than those that preceeded it. With a new offensive coordinator in Hagan the playbook might involve the tight end far more than in years past. Our old offensive coordinator Cignetti used a pro style offense that did very little to exploit matchup problems on the outside. Bear Pascoe will create problems for defenses purely due to his size (6-5, 260). He is a large receiver with speed and good hands. if he can become a viable option for Brandstater Fresno State will have four options to throw to. Jesus Tapia will also become an option at tight end this season. Although Tapia played sparingly in 2005 he is not new to Fresno State's system and will be able to contribute when put in the right situations. Overall Fresno State will have a strong set of TE's to throw to if the option is needed during the game against Nevada.
Nevada returns it's leading tight end in Anthony Pudewell. Pudewell led Nevada in receiving with respect to to tight ends in 2005 with 27 catches and 308 yards receiving. As you can see Nevada does not use their tight end much either. Nevada runs a modified version of the Hawaii spread offense that tries to get Rowe on the outside of the defense where he can exploit mismatches. Nevada will have the option to throw to their tight ends due to the fact that Riley and Brown are out for this game. Our LB core once strong has been depleted by injuries. Although we will have Goodwin and Andrews starting the third LB spot is going to be tough to fill. If Nevada exploits this tight end problem Fresno State could be in for a long night.
Tight End Advantage - Even
Monday, August 28, 2006
I just hope that this season if we have struggles at quarterback, that Hill does not hesitate to put Norton in. Norton is very close with respect to talent and can play quarterback as well. This is not like the Tom Brandstater-Paul Pinegar situation where the backup did not have the knowledge to get the job done. This time around the backup has plenty of knowledge to get in there and help us out. In a perfect world Brandstater will make me look like an idiot and play amazingly. I am hoping that is what happens but do not know how well Brandstater will perform under the gun. But Tom is our starter and I will support him for as long as he plays quarterback at Fresno State. Four more days until the first game, and finally we know who our starting quarterback will be.
Offensive Line Advantage - Fresno State
Running Backs - Fresno State and Nevada will both provide two of the premier running backs in the WAC this season. If you need proof of how explosive Hubbarb can be for Nevada just review the game against Fresno in 2005. Hubbard rushed for 146 yards on 16 carries against Fresno in 2005. He ran through gaping holes in the middle. Once he ran past the defensive line he showed his explosive speed running down the field into the secondary of the Bulldogs. If Nevada can find a way to open up holes as they did in 2005, Hubbard will have an amazing game against Fresno State. I am willing to bet this is not going to happen again however. Pat Hill will have Fresno's defense ready to go against the run this season. The loss of Brown to injury and the fact Riley is still recovering will hurt the dogs run defense, but not so much that it will be noticeable in this game.
Dwayne Wright has not played for two seasons now. Every Bulldog fan knows the story of how Wright was placed on the disabled list in the first place. If Wright is healthy (which he showed he is in practice) he will have a great game against Nevada's pourous rush defense. Wright can run East-West if forced to, but has the power and ability to become a battering ram. With Versher in front of him, Wright will have large holes to run through and should gain over one hundred yards against Nevada. However, Hubbard should have a good game as well. These two running backs are the best the WAC has to offer this season and we as fans have the pleasure of watching them in the first game of the season. Overall, the running back situation for both teams has to be looked at as virtually even.
Running Back Advantage - Draw/Even
Here is the lineup for the rest of the week:
8/29 - Receivers/Tight Ends
8/30 - Defensive Line/Secondary
8/31 - Linebackers/Special Teams/Prediction
9/1 - Fresno State vs. Nevada
Remember if you guys have anything you need to know or any questions or comments just ask. I will do whatever I can to help out Fresno fans, or WAC fans for that matter. By the way our starting quarterback will be named in one hour.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
A win over the Wolf Pack will:
A loss to the Wolf Pack will:
Nevada is a decent team, that is able to upset Fresno State. Will it happen? I really don't see it happening -- but if it did -- the season will not be lost.
Just College Football predicts Fresno State to lose to Nevada but still finish the season 10-2. The only other loss JCF predicts is at LSU. Average football teams don't win 10 games, Fresno State has not won 10 games since 2001.
Friday, August 25, 2006
If Brandstater is our starter he will have plenty of time to throw as our offensive line showed during the scrimmage. But because Brandstater has only thrown thirteen passes in college and Norton has thrown zero Fresno is left with two inexperienced qb's to lead them to victory. Rowe has poise and knows how to run his offense seeing that he is a senior at Nevada. Nevada will roll Rowe out to his left and right to create more time for him as he will look to hit receivers who run crosses over the middle of the field. The key to stopping Rowe will be to pressure him early and often. When he rolls out Fresno needs to send a corner or have a linebacker blitz him to force him to throw the ball early. If Rowe is put in uncomfortable positions he will make mistakes as his 2 to 1 td to int ratio tells us.
Whether Brandstater or Norton takes the reigns for Fresno State they will both have to avoid doing what Pinegar did so well: turning the ball over. We cannot afford to allow an offense like Nevada's extra chances with the ball. As explosive as Rowe can be, if his chances are limited on offense he will not be able to produce like he hopes to. In order to stop Rowe the defense must perform much like they did against Toledo last year. The defensive line needs to hit Rowe early and often even if it is just to remind him that they are there. If Fresno State can put pressure on Rowe constantly forcing him to run more than he would like to and the Bulldogs qb can refrain from making that unnecessary thrown then the Bulldogs will send Navada home with their first loss of the season.
QB Advantage - Nevada
Next up: 8/28 Running Back Comparison
I have followed Fresno State football since I moved to Fresno in 1988. Of course since I was only eleven at the time I didn't much care about whether we won or lost, but instead I was more concerned with watching the games because I didn't understand how football worked. Fast forward to 2006 and so much has changed in Fresno. We have moved from the Big West to the WAC. We have gone from a relative unknown to the perennial giant killer of college football. Jim Sweeney ran the football team in the early-mid 1990's. We were shown the crazy passing attack that Trent Dilfer brought our team in 1992-1993. Who can forget one of our banner wins with Dilfer laying on the ground pumping his fist after he threw the final touchdown in a 48-45 win at BYU? Under Sweeney we had many exciting moments, but because of the way college football was structured we were relatively unknown during the Sweeney tenure until our Freedom Bowl win over a sub-par USC team.
As everyone knows today our Bulldogs are run by Pat Hill, a gritty coach who is known for being tough and hard headed. For the most part Pat Hill has made outstanding decisions with respect to Fresno State football. The Bulldogs under Hill have played in seven straight bowl games and an eighth one looks to be in sight at the end of the 2006 season. We have seen the David Carr explosion and watched countless Bulldog players enter the NFL in Pat Hill's system. Unfortunately for all of the accolades Hill receives for what he has done at Fresno State he will be most remembered for what he does this season. The reason I say this is this is the first season we have truly wondered who will be our qb. This is the first season where there is a large amount of uncertainty with respect to what will happen to the Bulldogs. While we have many outstanding players (at least three who should be drafted in the top two rounds next year in McCauley, Young, and Williams) the skilled positions were left depleted due to the draft and graduation. Many wonder if Hill will make the right decision with respect to our quarterback. Will he put the mobile Sean Norton in there or will he go with your prototypical qb in Tom Brandstater? Do we as Fresno State fans trust Pat Hill enough to know he will make the best decision for the team?
I have a feeling in the end that many Bulldog fans are going into this final week worried about this major decision that can heavily affect the Bulldogs. First of all it is never good to go this long without picking your starting qb. A team likes to have that cohesion that you form when you know who will be starting and who won't. When you wait as long as Hill has this season to name a starting qb it can lead to bad experiences on the field. However, on the flip side this would have all been for naught if Brandstater had performed better in the scrimmages. Hill has to deal with the fact that while Brandstater may have the size and the arm, he has not performed up to Bulldog standards as a quarterback in the scrimmages. Many who have attended practices and scrimmages have seen this. Norton on the other hand has excelled in the scrimmages, making this a very tough decision for Hill. Who will the quarterback be is a question that most will wonder over the weekend. Hopefully early next week we will know who the starter will be.
In the end I know many are worried that Hill might be putting too much of an emphasis on height. While I have my reservations I believe Pat Hill loves the Bulldogs more than anything aside his family. While I do not know him personally I truly believe that when the time comes to choose our starting qb he will make the right decision. But do you as Bulldog fans believe the same? Let me know your thoughts. By the way I will be starting my Nevada-Fresno State comparison today as I start with the quarterback position and work my way down to the special teams.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Since I joined the BarkBoard I have noticed that one of the most debated issues is who Fresno State's biggest rivalry is. Many people argue that their number one rival is Boise State. Others feel it is San Jose State because of the long history we have with the Spartans. Still others feel as if it is San Diego State for historical reasons as well. This rivalry issue is one I have always wanted to write about because I have always thought the Bulldogs greatest rivalry is different than most other Bulldog fans believe it to be. However, before I get to who I believe the Dogs biggest rival is let's look at the other options that fans generally mention.
1) San Jose State - I believe those who argue San Jose State to be our biggest rival have a valid point. We have played San Jose more times than just about anyone else in our history. We have had some truly outstanding games with San Jose State. However, the last 13 years San Jose has not beaten Fresno State one time. For me that takes the rivalry idea away from our games with San Jose State.
2) San Diego State - Fresno State used to play San Diego State yearly. At that time San Diego State was a great rival for Fresno, but what people need to remember is we don't play San Diego yearly anymore. They are not part of our conference. This could become a rivalry for us once again but only if we renew our contract with San Diego State and the games are exciting like they were in the days of the early WAC.
3) Boise State - Many Bulldog fans feel as if Boise State has become our new biggest rivalry. I want to agree with everyone about this but I just don't think there is a big enough history with this team. Not to mention we have only played one close game with Boise since the Dogs began playing them yearly in 2001.
4) Hawaii - In my opinion we do not have a better rivalry in our history than Hawaii. I have experienced four home games against Hawaii and I don't feel like the crowd gets up for any other game quite like they do for Hawaii. Two years ago Hawaii ran through our Dog House at the beginning of the game and the Bulldogs pummeled Hawaii 70-14. Aside that game the bulk of our series have been nailbiters that have left the crowd with heartache or pleasure. Hawaii upset the Dogs in 2001 on the last play of the game. The following year they came into Bulldogs stadium and shut us down in the fourth quarter winning 31-21. However, the Dogs last season finally knocked off Hawaii at the Island but as usual it was a close down to the wire contest. My point is these games are always great games, and our fans dislike one another more than any other team I can think of. The home team generally wins the games but they are not blowouts for the most part. To me Hawaii is exactly what a rival should be and in 2006 I expect another close contest with Hawaii.
Now let's take a look at these three teams with respect to record comparison against Fresno State over the years:
Team Wins Losses Ties
vs. Boise State 4 4 0
vs. San Jose State 35 32 3
vs. San Diego State 20 26 4
vs. Hawaii 20 17 1
With respect to the amount of times we have played an opponent, this should take Boise out of the Rivalry question right off the bat. However the other three teams all make sense as a rival to Fresno State. Remember though, I am asking who is our greatest rivalry. In the end the best rivalry for the Dogs is up to each fan themself. I would like to know what you as fans think our biggest rival of Fresno State is. It's fine if you don't agree, we don't as fans always share the same opinions. I know for me it's Hawaii but for others it may be different and I am just interested in everyone's opinion.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
In all, a majority of my content will be available on the Bark Board and my opinions will be found on the blog. I have also added NSC and fsufever as contributors to the blog. If you have any tips, ideas or would like to contribute to the blog, drop me a line.
I would like to thank all the readers of the blog and if you haven't already, please visit the Bark Board, the No. 1 Fresno State site.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Believe what you want, but Fresno State didn't get one vote from from any AP voter in the 2006 preseason AP Poll. The media still has a hard on for Boise State. The Broncos are "ranked" 30th with 23 votes. BSU is not the 30th best team in the nation, and I am surprised to see any AP voters rank BSU after their performance last season against good teams. I guess some voters still vote on where they think a team will finish, instead of how good it looks heading into the season. BSU has a cakewalk of a schedule, 10-2 is likely, but this team has some huge question marks that few know about.
If BYU, UTEP, Tulsa and N. Illinois are getting votes then Fresno State should have gotten at least one "idiot" to rank FS in his top 25. Hell, even 3-8 Arizona got a vote, however, the Wildcats will be much improved this year.
But who in the **** ranked Ole Miss in his top 25? That team will win seven games at best against a weak non-conference slate, and that is only if Robert Schaeffer is eligible and lives up to his hype.
It is so freakin funny how many media members are making such a big deal about the 2006 FS team losing Paul Pinegar and Wendell Mathis, among others. I have been a pro-Norton guy since he signed back in 2004, but Brandstater is just as good per se, and either will make many forget about Pinegar. Do I really need to explain myself about Dwayne Wright? Mathis was good, but can't compare to Mr. Wright's skills.
There isn't a "poll" released to link to, but this is how the preseason AP poll looks
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- West Virginia
- Southern Cal
- Florida State
- Virginia Tech
- Penn State
- Arizona State
- Texas Tech
"Others Receiving Votes": Alabama 141, Utah 52, Boston College 41, Georgia Tech 39, Boise State 23, Arkansas 18, Wisconsin 18, South Carolina 15, Tulsa 11, Texas A&M 10, UTEP 4, Brigham Young 4, Purdue 4, Iowa State 3, Northern Illinois 3, OLE MISS 3, Michigan State 2, Arizona 1.
Sean Norton has mobility. How many times have we as Bulldog fans watched a game with a quarterback such as Bradlee Van Pelt (from Colorado State) and wondered what it would be like to have a quarterback that could not only throw (Van Pelt could not throw for Colorado State) but could also run? Envision for a minute two defensive lineman breaking through the line and Norton manuevering out of the pressure to hit a wide open receiver ten yeards down field. In the scrimmage Norton had absolutely no protection yet he completed eight of eleven passes for one hundred yards and one touchdown. He threw one interception (and it was a bad one) but overall he out-performed Brandstater. The only question left is will Pat Hill do the same thing that he always does? Will he hold on to a quarterback and let him have free reign regardless of how bad he performs in the clutch? I don't know about you Bulldog fans but I am tired of seeing this team play their asses off only to have a quarterback throw all of their efforts away by making four ill advised passes a game. I believe Norton will be the one who makes the throws that count. If people want to point to height remember Ryan Dinwiddie. He stood 5'11 and is one of the most accomplished passers in NCAA history. Norton can do the very same for us, he just needs a shot in the end. As my boy MDG said yesterday "Fresno State is the nation's underdog this season. What could possibly be better than to go out and shock the world with an undersized parade all american quarterback?"
The answer: well quite honestly nothing.
These scenarios are just some of the things to worry about in the season opener against Nevada. fsufever more than covers these and others in his storied prediction of what may happen September 1, 2006. His account of what fictional announcers may say about the game with just seconds to play.........(keep in mind folks this is just for Bulldog fans' amusement)
Fresno State vs. Nevada September 1, 2006
“Welcome back Fans to this remarkable game between the Wolf Pack of Nevada and the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Jim Tyme here, along with Lucious Fields at the opening game of the 2006 Football Season.
Lucious, take it away and set the stage on the monumental events taking place here and now”.
“OK, Jim and we’ve got a Daddy pounding, Mama screaming, dog’s barking first alarm fire going here. We’ve got a back home fight of a game here, which Fresno State is trying to pull out of that fire right now!
The Wolfpack came in here with, what the Fresno fans call “a peashooter offense” and that “peashooter offense” has scorched the Bulldogs up for a score of 34 to 14 in the first half.
Coach Ault of the Wolfpack isn’t in the Coaches Hall of Fame for nothin’ Jim. That man can coach! And lets be honest here Jim, there were a few questionable happenings, particularly in the second quarter when Tommy Brandstater was hit well after the play was over.
That was, well, I hate to say malicious, but it was definitely something that neither Coach didn’t like anymore that this packed Stadium did. Coach Ault from Nevada snatched that boy out of the game like a boy grabs a biscuit.
I sure hope Tommy’s all right, and look Jim, there’s Brandstater, Brandstater’s back on the sidelines with ice bags on his shoulder and neck. He just couldn’t stay away. He may be hurting but he wants to watch the last 56 seconds of this game.
And I’ll tell you Jim, that things changed when Sean Norton came into the game, he might not be as big as some on the outside, but he’s got the same sized skills, as he does heart on the inside.
The Defense has settled down and held Nevada to 3 field goals in the second half and Norton’s brought the Dogs back now to 43-38 and they have the ball on Nevada’s 6 yard line, on 3rd and goal and trailin’ by 5 humongous points.
Each team has one timeout with 56 seconds remaining in the game”.
“OK, thanks Lucious.
Well, here we go, what a start to the season, Fresno has surely worked hard on this comeback and doesn’t want it to end like the USC game. That was a heartbreaker! Against anybody but Reggie Bush and that would have been a W. That was the best game that I’ve seen in years.”
“That’s right Jim, I’d pay to see that game again and I’ve never paid to see a game in my life.”
“Ha, Ha, Lucious, you’re something. OK they’re coming to the line and Nevada has been loading up in the center and although Wright has picked up some nice runs they’ve got 3rd and 6 yards left, and they may decide to pass.
Man, that’s going to be a tough decision, Wait, what’s happening here. Look, Lucious they’ve moved Kyle Young to right guard. That’s 330 lbs of Giant and he’s next to Denham at 315 lbs.
Now then, with Vercher at 245….wait, hold on, Nevada has taken their last time out.
Well, Lucious, I guess Coach Ault had some second thoughts here.”
“That’s right, Jim. With Young at a probable weight of somewhere between 330 and 340 and Denham at 315 and with Roshon Vercher at 245 of the toughest pounds I’ve seen in a long time and then Dwayne Wright following them at 230 lbs.
Uhn, uhn, those boys might move that pile.”
“That’s right Lucious and with two downs to score in and plenty of time Nevada has a problem.
OK, here we go, the teams are up to the line and you know the Coaches told them that anybody that moves or creates a penalty may just as well turn in their Uniform.
The Dogs go into the same lineup but look at Nevada; they are loaded heavy, they have everybody stacked up except for a LB and the right safety. Here they go, oh Nellie, look at that! The whole line is stacked up; the crowd is so loud I can’t hear anything.
Fresno State definitely moved the down line forward. I don’t think they scored though; it doesn’t look like they scored. I don’t see any sign by the Officials. Folks, they are just peeling them off, well, kiss old Rose, look at that, there are 19 players piled up there, everybody except the LB, the Safety and of course its no place for Sean Norton, he just backed off.
No, they’re short, they’re short. They didn’t make it. Oh, the crowd got quiet but now listen to them. They’ve been like that the whole time. I can’t hear a thing! Now the Dogs are just outside the 2 yard line.
Oh, Nellie, one play and 36 seconds left. Norton is asking for quiet and the crowd hushes instantly. They line up and the clock ticks down to 22 seconds and wait, Norton calls a timeout. What a shock.
This whole Crowd of 41,032 was anticipating the play and now everyone’s looking at each other. What do you think Lucious?”
“Well, Jim I believe that Vercher was limping back to the huddle and at the last second Sean Norton thought this was much too important to take a chance with an injured man.”
“OK thanks, Lucious lets look at that replay and, you’re right! I can see now that Vercher was limping and apparently Norton did too. Good call Lucious! Looks like they’re bringing in Frank Padilla, he’s lacking experience but the team must have confidence in him.
They’re hitting him on the back and yelling encouragement. What a way to get your first big time experience! OK, they’re coming up to the line.
4th and goal and a long 2 with 22 seconds to go.
Fresno State made 4 yards on the first carry with 9 of the Nevada players jumping on the pile. It wouldn’t surprise me if Coach Ault also put the other two players on the pile this time. This game could be the WAC Championship, a BCS Bowl, and an undefeated season for either team.
Wait a second, wait a second, Norton went over to Young and Denham and put one hand on each of their shoulders and kind of hugged them. Now, he’s back hitting fists with Padilla.
Now folks, he just high-fived Wright. Man, that guy is cool. In a position like this, with this tension, can you believe it? What a Ballgame!
Norton is behind center and looking over the defense, he’s barking signals and he hands off to Wright and all heck is breaking loose, look at Wright following Young, pushing, straining, forcing his way forward, and every player of Nevada’s is pushing hard and fighting back and I don’t think, it doesn’t look like Fresno State made it.
And now, it looks like Norton has been hurt! He’s bending over holding his stomach and now he’s walking to the far outside official.
Its dead quiet, now, not a whisper from these Fans. They’re still un-piling the players but I don’t believe Fresno made it. Yes, they are short.
What a game! What heartbreak for these loyal fans, the famous Red Wave. But the Team gave them their all!
Wait, what’s the crowd saying? What’s the crowd saying? Can you make it out Lucious?”
“Yes Jim, Yes, Yes, I can. Norton still has the ball. Norton still has the ball. Fresno has won! Fresno has won!” -fsufever
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
This is the final installment of the fall camp preview. I know it is late and practice has already been closed, but I can't leave out the special teams.
Fresno State prides itself on special team play. Assistant head coach John Baxter is one of the, if not, best special teams coaches in college football today. Virginia Tech has longed been considered the premier special team unit in the nation year-in and year-out, but Fresno State is not too far behind Frank Beamer's Hokies.
The 'Dogs are among the best because the coaches do not regulate back ups or walk ons to play special teams. Fresno State plays its best players on special teams. Don't be surprised to see Paul Williams, or any other starter, racing down the field on punt coverage to make a tackle.
The kicking game has always been strong under Pat Hill and Baxter, and this year Fresno State may have its best kicker and punter combo in Bulldog history.
Sr. punter Mike Lingua has been the starter since his freshman year. He doesn't have a booming leg per se, but he has incredible hang time. Fresno State has allowed the fewest net punt return yards in the nation the last two years. The 'Dogs have allowed less than 100 yards combined in the last two years.
Lingua will not lead the WAC in punting average but he should lead the nation again in net punt return yards.
Jr. Clint Stitser is one of the best kickers in the nation despite just playing one-half season in his college career. He has one of the strongest legs in the nation, and is practically automatic inside of 45 yards.
He missed half of last year with a season ending injury, but has shown no signs of the injury this preseason. In fact, he looks better than ever. He is a huge weapon the 'Dogs lacked the second half of 2005.
Jr. Clifton Smith is the most electrifying players ever to play at Fresno State. He has seven career punt returns, four of those have been returned for more than 60 yards and three of those went for touchdowns. He was expected to replace all-WAC KR Adam Jennings this year, but he is not 100% and could miss all of 2006.
Not too worry, Sr. Joe Fernandez returned a punt for touchdown last season and was great in spot duty covering for Jennings. But he will have to fend off hot shot rFr. Chastin West.
West had a great spring and is having an even better fall camp thus far. He is the biggest and strongest kick returner Fresno State has had since David Dunn in 1994.
At 6-1 200, West still has great speed and has great field presence for just a freshman. The 'Dogs always have great kick returners and West looks like the next great one.
Stitser is picking up right where he left off, he was named to the preseason Groza Watch List. He is just one of 30 named to the list and only one of two WAC kickers, the other is Danny Horwendel of Louisiana Tech.
Stitser has looked great in fall camp, and was the most impressive player at last Saturday's scrimmage. He was perfect on all his field goals, and looks even better than last year.
It is amazing that Stitser has only attempted 12 career field goals, but is still considered one of the best kickers in the nation.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
This is easily the position on the team that lacks the most depth, in terms of numbers. Sr. Marcus McCauley is one of the best cornerbacks in the nation and has started since the end of his freshman year. Now, just imagine if Richard Marshall would not have left early for the NFL? The Bulldogs would arguably have the best CB duo in the nation.
However, Marshall is gone and the CB opposite McCauley will be someone who has never started a game in his career.
Sr. Elgin Simmons is one of the fastest players on the team, but has only played in spot duty the last three seasons. And despite having to battle former all-state De La Salle prep, jr. Damon Jenkins, Simmons has solidified his spot opposite McCauley.
Jenkins has better size and talent, but it hasn't translated on the field. He still has a chance to beat out Simmons in August, but his window of opportunity is closing fast.
True freshman Damion Owens was touted by Pat Hill as being a player that could play his first year. Thus far in camp he has not disappointed and could be the team's No. 3 cornerback before camp ends.
AJ Jefferson is another true freshman, but he is just a bit rawer than Owens. Jefferson would be better suited to redshirt, but could play if needed.
Fr. Jay Reddick, Sr. Keelen Kennedy, Fr. Jason Blackmon, and Jr. Will Harding round the cornerbacks, and are not likely to log too much time on the field.
McCauley will lock down one side of the field, that is a given. Simmons, despite his lack of height, was able to contain Paul Williams the other night at the scrimmage, quite well. Simmons only problem will be in the end zone defending timing routes or fades, against a taller receiver.
Owens is proving to be a solid player and along with Jenkins give the 'Dogs a solid quartet. However, if any injuries arise, this position will surely suffer.
Unlike cornerback, Fresno State is loaded at safety. Like the cornerbacks, the two projected starters at safety will be seniors, FS Vince Mays and SS Josh Sherley. Pushing them will be a couple of very talented rFr., FS Marvin Haynes and SS Moses Harris.
In fact Harris played with the first team defense in this week's past scrimmage for the injured Sherley. His play has prompted many fans to beg question, why can't Harris start over Sherley?
Many point to Sherley's poor pass coverage as the reason. Well, Sherley did get beat a few times last year, but so did Marshall, especially against Oregon, did anyone call more Awan Diles or Ray Washington to replace Marshall? No, because Marshall was the better player and was just being very aggressive.
Harris is talented, but Sherley is the experienced starter and after a good spring he is destined for a great year. He beat out the very talented Mays last year to replace NFL pick James Sanders at SS and his play will improve from last year.
Speaking of Mays, he is finally living up to his 4 star billing coming out of high school. He had a good spring and is continuing his great play in August.
Harris and Haynes are the future and both will play significant time in 2006 before taking over their respective starting spots in 2007.
So. FS Jake Jorde can play both safety spots if needed. He is a converted wide receiver, has excellent size and decent speed.
True freshman SS Lorne Bell has been compared to Sanders by Hill and has been showing signs of greatness during the first week of camp. Hill would like to redshirt him, but Bell could play, especially if injuries become a problem.
Jr. FS Brian Gridiron is deep on the depth chart and will likely be regulated to mop up spot duty.
Mays and Sherley are a deadly safety combination. Mays is capable of covering the entire field and make plays when needed. Sherley is a tough, aggressive hitter that will make receivers pay for coming over the middle. The two have battled the last three seasons at SS, but now, both will be starting for the first time together. Sherley has a good shot to make all-WAC with a good senior year.
Harris, Haynes, and Jorde provide quality depth, as each could fill in and make a somewhat seamless transition. I could add Bell to that list, but he is just true.
2 Clifton Smith RB 5-8 190 JR Fresno, Calif. (Edison)
3 Sean Norton QB 5-11 175 SO Valencia, Calif. (Hart)
3 Moses Harris SS 6-1 200 RS FR Stockton, Calif. (Lincoln)
4 Vincent Mays FS 5-11 205 SR Rancho Cordova, Calif. (Hiram Johnson)
5 Marlon Moore WR 6-0 180 RS FR Sacramento, Calif. (Natomas)
6 Chastin West WR 6-1 195 FR Moorpark, Calif. (Moorpark)
7 Tom Brandstater QB 6-5 220 SO Turlock, Calif. (Turlock)
10 Alan Goodwin SLB 6-2 220 SR Inglewood, Calif. (Morningside)
11 Tyler Clutts DE 6-2 245 JR Clovis, Calif. (Clovis)
13 Jason Crawley WR 6-2 185 RS FR Pittsburg, Calif. (Pittsburg HS)
15 Ryan Colburn QB 6-3 220 FR Visalia, Calif. (Central Valley Christian)
15 Josh Sherley SS 6-0 205 SR Bakersfield, Calif. (Bakersfield)
16 Jordan Christensen QB 6-3 190 SR Fresno, Calif. (Clovis)
17 Marcus McCauley CB 6-1 205 SR Sacramento, Calif. (Cordova Senior)
18 Jaron Fairman WR 6-1 195 SR Covina, Calif. (South Hills)
19 Marvin Haynes FS 6-1 195 RS FR Fresno, Calif. (Central)
19 Seyi Ajirotutu WR 6-3 200 RS FR El Dorado Hills, Calif. (Oak Ridge)
20 Kyle Duffy RB 5-8 175 FR Clovis, Calif. (Clovis West)
22 Anthony Harding RB 6-0 215 FR Turlock, Calif. (Pitman)
22 Damon Jenkins CB 5-11 185 JR Concord, Calif. (De La Salle)
23 Jake Jorde FS 6-1 195 SO Fallbrook, Calif. (Fallbrook Union)
24 Damion Owens CB 5-11 185 FR San Leandro, Calif. (San Leandro)
25 Shannon Dorsey RB 6-1 205 JR Highland, Calif. (San Gorgonio)
25 Jay Reddick CB 5-8 175 RS FR Sacramento, Calif. (Cordova)
26 Roshon Vercher FB 5-11 245 JR Bakersfield, Calif. (Bakersfield)
27 Rich Owens RB 6-0 220 RS FR Chino Hills, Calif. (Ontario Christian)
27 Michael Stuart DE 6-2 245 SO Westlake, Calif. (Moorpark)
28 A.J. Jefferson CB 6-0 180 FR Bakersfield, Calif. (West)
29 Jamal Rashad RB 5-11 195 SO Lakeview Terrace, Calif. (Glendale College)
30 Will Smith LB 6-1 205 FR Fresno, Calif. (Sunnyside)
30 Elgin Simmons CB 5-9 180 SR Los Angeles, Calif. (Hawthorne)
31 Marcus Riley WLB 6-0 220 JR Sacramento, Calif. (Elk Grove)
32 Quaadir Brown WLB 6-0 210 SO Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Lake Elsinore)
32 Dwayne Wright RB 6-1 220 RS JR San Diego, Calif. (West Hills College)
33 Lonyae Miller RB 5-11 220 FR Fontana, Calif. (Kaiser)
34 Trevor Shamblee OLB 6-1 220 JR Queens, N.Y. (Hancock Junior College)
35 Kyle Zimmerman PK/P 5-11 200 SR Visalia, Calif. (Golden West)
35 Dustin Abrams K 6-0 170 FR Los Alamitos, Calif., (Los Alamitos)
36 Lorne Bell SS 5-10 195 FR Simi Valley, Calif. (Simi Valley)
37 Jason Blackmon CB 5-10 170 RS FR Los Angeles, Calif. (Los Angeles)
37 Mike Lingua P 6-0 190 SR Canyon Country, Calif. (Canyon)
38 Keelen Kennedy CB 6-0 190 SR Tulare, Calif. (College of the Sequoias)
39 Clint Stitser PK 6-1 200 JR Reno, Nev. (McQueen)
40 Nate Adams FB 5-11 240 JR Calaveras, Calif. (Calaveras)
40 Brian Gridiron FS 6-0 220 JR Fresno, Calif. (College of Sequoias)
41 Ikenna Ike DE 6-1 255 SO Walnut, Calif. (Walnut)
42 Charles Tolbert DT 5-11 270 JR Reno, Nev. (McQueen)
42 Robert Malone P 6-2 225 FR Riverside, Calif. (King)
43 Ahijah Lane LB 6-1 225 JR Fresno, Calif. (Hoover)
44 Frank Padilla FB 6-0 240 FR Clovis, Calif. (Clovis)
45 Isaac Kinter FB 6-1 240 RS FR El Dorado Hills, Calif. (Oak Ridge)
46 Will Harding CB 6-1 200 JR Turlock, Calif. (Modesto College)
46 John Green DE 6-2 240 SO Sacramento, Calif. (Burbank)
47 Ryan Machado LB 6-0 210 RS FR Ripon, Calif. (Ripon)
48 Raynard Camp FB 5-11 250 RS FR Stockton, Calif. (Lincoln HS)
48 Frank Manquero LB 6-1 190 RS FR Cutler, Calif. (Orosi)
49 Todd Chisom LB 6-1 220 RS FR Beverly Hills, Calif. (Bevery Hills)
50 Cornell Banks DT 6-3 265 FR Fresno, Calif. (Edison)
51 Dwayne Andrews MLB 6-0 240 SR Los Angeles, Calif. (Locke)
52 Richard Pacheco OL 6-2 285 SO Moreno Valley, Calif. (Canyon Springs)
54 Ben Jacobs LB 6-3 225 FR Las Vegas, Nev. (Silverado)
55 Nico Herron LB 6-3 240 FR San Leandro, Calif. (San Leandro)
56 Robert Schenck LB 6-2 250 FR San Marcos, Calif. (Mission Hills)
57 Tommy Gatta LB 6-1 215 RS FR Oak Ridge, Calif. (Oak Ridge)
58 Ryan McKinley SLB 6-2 220 SO Reno, Nev. (Reno)
59 Kyle Young C 6-5 330 SR Fallbrook, Calif. (Fallbrook Union)
60 Kenny Wiggins OT 6-7 260 FR Elk Grove, Calif. (Elk Grove)
61 Charley Robbins OG 6-2 270 FR Fresno, Calif. (Bullard)
62 Cole Popovich RG 6-2 285 SO Oakhurst, Calif. (Yosemite)
65 Pierce Masse OG 6-4 285 SO San Diego, Calif. (Clairemont)
66 Robin Kezirian C/G 6-3 300 SR Fresno, Calif. (Washington)
67 Cameron Harris C 6-3 250 SO Norco, Calif. (Norco)
68 James Meeks RT 6-5 310 RS FR Oakland, Calif. (Bishop O' Dowd)
69 Andrew Jackson DT 6-5 260 FR Grass Valley, Calif. (Nevada Union)
71 Nick Wright OL 6-3 265 FR Woodland Hills, Calif. (Chaminade)
72 Bobby Lepori LT 6-5 285 SO Reno, Nev. (Bishop Manogue)
73 Kenny Avon RT 6-3 260 SO California City, Calif. (Mojave)
74 Joe Bernardi C 6-2 280 FR Flagstaff, Ariz. (Flagstaff)
75 Chris Piligian OG 6-6 265 JR Newhall, Calif. (Hart)
76 Adam McDowell LT 6-4 285 SO Norco, Calif. (Norco)
77 Ryan Wendell OG 6-2 275 JR Diamond Bar, Calif. (Diamond Bar)
79 Chris Denman RT 6-6 305 SR Tehachapi, Calif. (Tehachapi)
80 Drew Lubinsky TE 6-6 250 SO Roseville, Calif. (Oakmont)
81 Norman Davis TE 6-6 210 RS FR Hayward, Calif. (Hayward)
82 Jamel Hamler WR 6-1 190 FR San Leandro, Calif. (San Leandro)
84 Joe Fernandez WR 5-10 175 SR Morgan Hill, Calif. (Saint Francis)
85 Bear Pascoe TE 6-5 260 SO Porterville, Calif. (Granite Hills)
86 Darren Newborne WR 5-11 185 RS FR Mt. Miguel, Calif. (Mt. Miguel)
87 Kevin Ciccone WR 5-11 175 SO Stevenson Ranch, Calif. (Hart)
88 Jesus Tapia TE 6-6 250 JR Kingsburg, Calif. (Kingsburg)
90 Ken Amendola LS 6-1 240 JR Fresno, Calif. (Bullard)
90 Chris Lewis DE 6-3 245 FR Fresno, Calif. (Clovis West)
92 Marlon Brisco DE 6-3 260 SR Inglewood, Calif. (Morningside)
93 Taylor Smith DE 6-3 230 FR Clovis, Calif. (Buchanan)
94 Jon Monga DT 6-2 280 SO Henderson, Nev. (Foothill)
96 Wilson Ramos NT 6-4 270 RS FR Woodland, Calif., (Woodland)
97 Jason Shirley NT 6-5 330 JR Fontana, Calif. (Kaiser Fontana)
98 Louis Leonard DT 6-4 320 SR Compton, Calif. (Verbum Dei)
99 Jason Roberts DE 6-5 250 SO Fresno, Calif. (Central)
I will change the weights when confirmed, but have removed #54 John Guevara (career ending injury) and #89 Philip Ghilarducci (ineligible)
Sunday, August 13, 2006
However, the play on the field was unimpressive. Tom Brandstater worked only with the first team, and his play was pedestrian at best. Granted, the first defense made the first team offense look silly most of the night anyways.
Sean Norton, in my opinion, had the better game, especially when he had time to throw. The second team offensive line was awful. But keep in mind, the 2nd team right tackle, Kenny Avon, was a playing DT just a few days ago. The only time Norton had time to throw, was when the fullback stayed in to block.
The third team was easily the most impressive offensive unit. Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding were money.
That's my take, gobulldogs.com has a complete recap, but their assement has a little too much "kool-aid"even for me, the Fresno Bee's is a little more accurate.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Quarterback Competition
(Just the personal opinion of fsufever)
Let’s review what the “competition” has been. Tom Brandstater has always worked out with the First String all this past spring, all this summer, and this Fall. I believe he started out with this perk because of him being at Fresno State one more year and being the Backup last season. That makes sense. But once he was put in that position then he had the advantage of ALWAYS starting in EVERY practice and always with the First String. He certainly did not look either better than or even as good as Norton at the beginning but he was placed in the starting position and it’s never changed. Sean Norton always comes in for his series AFTER Brandstater is through. Sean Norton always initially works with the Backups.
To me, if you want to say you are conducting a competition at any position, then you give each Player the same opportunities. I do not believe that this has happened and I do not believe that it will. You should not say “we’re giving each Player a chance to show what he can do” and then not give him an equal chance to display his abilities.
The only truism about this “competition” is that Steve Hagen works very hard with both men on every play involving Pass Training. He’s done a wonderful job and after each man throws his pass or series of passes Coach Hagen will critique how he did. He makes suggestions and illustrations of how they might have done something better. This is the first time that I have seen this at Fresno State as the norm has been to throw pass after pass in drills with little or no feedback. Steve Hagen has laid the groundwork for wins we may not have gotten without this training. But let’s face it; he has not had to work too hard with Norton.
He has taken Brandstater and made him into a very good Quarterback. He has changed his footwork and his focus and helped his delivery. I have seen tremendous changes in his consistency and accuracy in the past six months. I would have not believed it possible for him to change so much since the Spring Practice but I have watched him throw hundreds of passes since then and his improvement has been steady and solid. Norton was always a better Passer and I believe he’s still a better Passer and he probably will be a better Passer next year. But there are other things that go into the selection and a primary one is the simple fact that Brandstater has always been treated as the Starter. That’s the way they look at it. That’s not an equal competition.
I don’t know which man will deliver better under fire butdo know that History shows us Sean Norton has delivered time after time. record is far superior to any other Quarterback that has ever signed with Fresno State. He alone can throw the variation of passes that depend on the situation and his timing is wonderful. But is he getting an equal chance to compete? How would you feel mentally if you were always treated as Second String? It’s got to be a tougher platform to work on when you always have the next best Players blocking, running and catching for you.
I don’t think you can find a nicer person or a harder worker than Brandstater. I know he will be prepared every time he goes into a game. He will give it everything he has and that will probably be good enough to win most games for us. But we will never know if he’s the best QB on the Fresno State team unless everything is equal. If Coach Hill wants to be fair he will start Sean Norton Saturday night and every day left of practice. Will he, I don’t think so.
I don’t believe that Coach Hill ever intended this situation to occur.I believe he is a very honorable man and I’m not sure that he realized that it went along this same way Practice after Practice. I’m afraid that Sean Norton “competitive” chances are gone.
Is it possible they never existed?
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Fresno State has some good looking LB’s in the freshman class with size, speed and meanness. Some of the ones getting early attention are;
#30 Will Smith 6’1 - 205
#47 Ryan Machado 6’0 - 210
#55 Nico Herron 6’3 - 240
#56 Robert Schenck 6’2 - 250
The great thing about these kids is that no matter what their size is now, next year at this time they will have put on 10-40 lbs. of added muscle. For example, #43 Ahijah Lane came to Fresno State at 185 lbs. and now is about 5-10 lbs. over his listed weight of 225. In the Summer Workouts he outran most people in the Sprints that arose from challenges thrown during those Workouts.
Also, although they need, and are getting, a lot of instruction you will see that Herron and Schenck are already junkyard dog mean! They carry a load and they like to use it.
The Linebackers that are working out with the Big Boys at the present time are;
#51 Dwayne Andrews
#10 Alan Goodwin
#34 Trevor Shamblee
#43 Ahijah Lane
#47 Ryan Machado
#58 Ryan McKinley
We have two injured Linebackers that we need back ASAP. #31 Marcus Riley (running, doing some agility drills) and #32 Quaadir Brown (who has a cast from hand to elbow and a sling on his right arm). I have no idea what’s wrong but the way he is favoring it I would take it for broken but I want to emphasize that I don’t know. How long before coming back? Too long, whenever it is.
Bear Pascoe #85 – One of our Favorite Players
This guy came to our campus as a QB. He was the hardest throwing QB I have seen at FSU since I started following them in 1956. The Receivers actually flinched when they caught the ball and they dropped more than they should have because of that. Coach Hill decided that because of the QB situation at the time and not wanting to waste this young mans abilities he would put him and his immense strength at Tight End where he would be needed over the next few years. Since then he has come along in a steady fashion and now seems on the verge of being a very good TE.
He didn’t miss a day during the Summer Volunteer Workouts and volunteered for every route and chased loose balls and did whatever he could for the team. He still had the problem of bouncing the ball off his hands and did not catch some of the balls he perhaps should have. But right now, just as Paul Williams did during his junior year of summer practice, he turned into a Receiver. Each day now he catches everything, and the Football belongs to him. He takes it away from the Defense with pure strength and he does not let go. He is fast enough and strong enough that it is very hard for the Defense to cover or tackle him and he may be a nice guy but he is starting to run over people.
When he blocks for the Team he locks on to ANYONE that he is responsible for and that guy is out of the play.
It’s a thrill for me that he is turning into this type of Player and it just shows what hard work will do.
All that and now during periods of the Workouts he is working as a Long Snapper. He seems to have good accuracy and extreme velocity on the long centers. He will do whatever the Coaches ask and will always say, Yes Sir, Coach, Yes, Sir. I’d sure like to meet his Parents and see how they did all this.
Punt Returns and Special Teams
Today they had #15 Josh Sherley take a few Punts along with some of the regulars and to show some of our speed this happened. #30 Elgin Simmons and #17 Marcus McCauley were teamed up on coverage. On a 40 yard Punt (by machine) that couldn’t have been in the air for more than 4 seconds those two guys while being blocked at the line of scrimmage outran the Punt. There were two guys that banged them and pushed them and they still outran the Punt. Awesome.
The Special Team coverage lasted for about 40 minutes today and they will keep increasing the numbers of people involved until they have a full team on the coverage.
Two a Day Practice
They have changed the Schedule and now will NOT have any second Practice until Friday evening about 8:00 pm. This will be a lead-in for the first Scrimmage of the fall at the Jim Sweeney Field at 7:00 pm on Saturday night. -fsufever
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Pat Hill has had some pretty good defensive lineman in his previous nine years. Alan Harper comes to many Bulldog fans' minds, as he was the program's first and only true dominant defensive tackle that required constant double teams.
Harper was a highly touted recruit out of SoCal in 1997, but didn't qualify academically and had to sit out the 1997 season. He got things in order and left school in 2001 as the most decorated defensive tackle to ever play at Fresno State.
In 2001 Harper was named AP 2nd team All-American, the highest Bulldog rated AP All-American since Henry Ellard in 1982. And was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year. Harper was also selected in the 4th round of the 2002 NFL Draft.
That very same spring, Hill signed a very promising defensive tackle that idolized Harper, Louis Leonard. Leonard chose to wear No. 98 because Harper was his favorite player. Unlike the somewhat undersized, 6'2" 280, Harper, Leonard came to Fresno State as a 6'4" 330 mammoth defensive tackle.
Leonard has taken time to develop. Harper was a force as a redshirt freshman in 1998, but Leonard has yet to make his mark. 2006 is his year to shine, and quite possibly could be a first day NFL pick with a big senior year.
Leonard will team with fellow 300 lb buffet buster Jason Shirley in the middle. Shirley is a very talented player, but his work ethic is not Bulldog worthy per se. He missed summer workouts, and from the look of the first days of fall camp he looks out of shape.
The good thing about defensive tackles, especially Shirley, is that they are run-stoppers and do not necessarily have to rush the quarterback. However, if he doesn't shape up sophomore Jon Monga is ready to assume his starting spot.
Monga was very impressive in spring, and has added some weight to his 6' 2" frame; he is around 280-290. 5'11" 270 Charles Tolbert is a menace in the middle and never gives up. His size hurts the team in terms of clogging up the middle, but is a decent pass rusher up the middle.
Kenny Avon is very fast for a defensive tackle, but needs to add some more weight. He should get some time in the rotation, but should be force next year. Ikenna Ike can play either tackle or end. Like Tolbert, Ike is an undersized tackle, 6'1 260, but has a great motor and is an effective pass rusher.
The defensive end spot is loaded. Tyler Clutts was one of the best defensive ends in the WAC in 2005, but quite possibly could be only the third best DE on the 2006 Fresno State team.
Jason Roberts is, physically, the best defensive end Fresno State has ever had. At 6'5 250, he has excellent speed off the corner, and will give the 'Dogs that coveted pass rusher they so desperately need.
Mike Stuart comes to Fresno State from USC via Moorpark College. Stuart was a Blue Chip tight end recruit in 2004, and made the move to OLB at USC. He switched to DE as a JUCO, and figures to get quality time in the DE rotation.
Now back to Clutts, there is no way he is not going to start. He is the leader of the defense and will take over departed Garrett McIntyre's role on the field and in the huddle. Clutts will record double-digit sacks because opposing teams will be forced to account for Roberts and Stuart's speed on the other end.
Marlon Brisco is so overlooked, it is just funny. All this kid did last year was start 11 games, and has been a solid contributor for the last two years. His presence gives the 'Dogs four solid defensive ends, compared to the one they had heading into last season.
And I am not even including the newly arrived Miami de-commit Chris Lewis.
Wilson Ramos is another young solid DE that had a good spring, but will be in a battle to get some playing time. Among the true freshman coming in, 6'6" 270 DE Andrew Jackson is a load. He may eventually need to make the move to DT, because of his size. 6'2" 300 lb Mark Roberts has a good chance to see some time, as well, but both are likely to redshirt.
Fans were quick to criticize the linebackers after last year's season-ending four game losing streak, but in reality injuries were to blame, not talent.
Seniors Dwayne Andrews and Alan Goodwin, along with, junior Marcus Riley have been the starting games together since mid-2004. However, when Riley went down with a season-ending knee injury at USC, the LB corps went down with him.
Andrews gets the pub, and rightfully so, there are few better run-stopping, clogging MLBs than Andrews. But it was Riley that manned the weakside and often shut down opponents running game to the outside.
Riley may not play in 2006, but unlike last year, the cupboard is not bare. After he went down, senior Manuel Sanchez took over the starting WLB spot, but Sanchez was no run-stopper. He was often out of place and missed assignments, as he was a passing down linebacker.
Ahijah Lance was injured and Quaadir Brown was just a raw true freshman, so Sanchez was all the team had last season Fast forward to fall camp 2006, not only is Lane healthy and Brown a bit more experienced, but the team also welcomes the talented JUCO Trevor Shamblee to the mix.
Shamblee was a track star in high school and junior college. He brings added speed to the OLB spot, and has great size to boot, 6' 1" 230. If Riley, sits the outcome will not be as grim as 2005.
Goodwin often gets the shallow end of the stick. He is not as fast as Riley or as strong as Andrews, but is a quality experienced OLB. He should have a great senior year and has proven to be a durable player that can make plays.
Ryan McKinley can play both MLB and OLB, and is the only experienced depth outside of Lane and Brown. Backup MLB Christian Carleson transferred to Portland State, but true freshman Nico Herron and Robert Schenck are players that can play right away.
Monday, August 07, 2006
It was interesting to see that #6, Chastin West was the best Punt Returner today. He showed great speed and moves on every return. He was followed closely by Joe Fernandez, #84 and the others that participated were Ciccone 87, ? 28, Jenkins 25 and Fairmon 18. As Practice goes on they will do Punt Returns for longer periods as they will combine this with Special Teams and may try other Players for this very important part of the game.
On a Drill that they do having 7 Players go down to block and squeeze down on a single Punt Returner it was amazing to see Joe Fernandez go through the whole line with only one person barely grazing his jersey.
Running Backs and Fullbacks
The RB’s in the present line-up looks like this.
#32 Dwayne Wright
#27 Rich Owens
#25 Shannon Dorsey
The FB’s look like this.
#26 Roshon Vercher
#40 Nate Adams - These two are
#44 Frank Padilla - close to a tie right now.
#48 Reynard Camp
Frank Padilla got sick early in the Practice today and was taken off in a cart about 10:00 am. and didn’t return. Throwing up and dizzy and who knows why?
Lonyae Miller worked out only with the new guys and not with the Varsity today. I still believe that Pat Hill will suit him up for the first games and if he doesn’t have to use him he will then Redshirt him. At this early time of Practice he is still lost but he certainly seems to have the physical ability to help us out if we really need him. Anthony Harding hasn’t had time enough to show what he can do but I just had a minute to talk to him, Kyle Duffy and Jamaal Rashad today and they were the same type of nice men that Pat Hill seems to recruit all the time. They all showed speed and promise but I would have to bet the farm on Redshirts.
De La Rosa told me today that he was going to Grayshirt this year and tries to put on some size for next season. I think he can help us as Running and Receiving in 2-3 years.
I still have not seen Andrew Jones or Kyle Richards and they might be gone also. Jones was a RB and Richards was a FB and both looked like promising walk-ons from last year..
I think we’re just spinning our wheels talking about these guys for another two weeks. No matter what we or I might think Pat Hill will make that decision when the time comes. Today, it appeared that Norton looked better in Drills and Brandstater looked better in the Scrimmage. It's not quite fair to judge the Scrimmage because so far only Brandstater has worked with the first string and that definitely makes a difference. The reason for Norton sometimes running out of the pocket isn't because he has happy feet, it's because he doesn't have the blocking in front of him.
The good news is that I believe both Players will improve our passing stats but we’ll have to wait to see if both Players or perhaps only one can handle the mental part as well.
Someone asked about Mark Roberts from Modesto and how he looked. I talked to him Saturday when he still had not checked into school and he was nervous, but ready. Today he was in Uniform but he was a few minutes late onto the field and Kerry Locklin let him stand around for several anxious minutes before talking to him. Mark Roberts is a big kid and looks like he can go bigger. They have him listed at 275 but looks bigger than that and hopefully will be our next big stopper on the DL.
Riley got involved in a few strength drills today but no agility drills. He, Clifton Smith and Seyi Ajirotutu again did slow to ¾ speed runs today and I’m not sure that any of them will be ready for the first or maybe not even the second game of the season. -fsufever
Sunday, August 06, 2006
Carlson, Christian LB- Fresno Bee reported he transferred to Portland State. He has been buried on the depth chart for years, and was not going to see the field too much backing up Dwayne Andrews in 2006.
Cooper, Kevin OG- Cooper had to give up football due to career ending injury. He graduated in June and was awarded the prestigious President's Award.
Graham, Maurice TE- a 6'4 300 lb project, that was years away from contributing.
Hood, Lawrence DB- Supposedly, he was to return this fall after sitting out 2005. His loss hurts an already suspect CB spot.
Huss, Jason FS- Huss was listed as junior last year, but was a senior. His loss hurts somewhat, as he was an experienced safety.
McIntyre, Justin DE- "According" to his big bro, he didn't have the desire to play Bulldog football anymore.
Messick, Adam DT- Messick graduated, and decided not to return to the team despite having a year of eligibility remaining.
Miller, Ricky DT- Miller left the team and transferred to a IAA school. No doubt, he was talented, but in reality could have been regulated to special team play, once again, as a senior.
Packard, Devin DL- Packard was a DE that was moved to DT. He didn't have a great spring and needed to put on another 20-30 lbs to be an effective player.
Paulk, James OL- He was not in shape in spring, and sat out the last two weeks of spring over transfer issues. He loss in not a big deal, as many will make it out to be. He also transferred to a IAA school.
Peters, Kreig RB- Peters absence is a huge mystery. He said in spring he would be ready to go in the fall, and his teammates were expecting to see him in August, as well, during summer workouts. His loss is the biggest in my opinion, especially, if Clifton Smith is not 100% by September and Miller comes along slower than expected.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Me and fsufever took in today's morning practice, the first of "fall" camp. The biggest story of the day is the return of Clifton "Batman" Smith. Here is fsufever's take on today's action.
Fresno State Football – 1st day of Fall Practice – 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Saturday
First let’s take a look at the people missing from fall 2006's first practice.
2005 Football Players that Left the team.
4 - OL
6 - DL
2 - LB
1 - CB
1 - TE
2 - WR
1 - FS
1 - DB
1 - RB
1 - LS
Allen, Dean OL
Carlson, Christian LB
Cooper, Kevin OG
Corbet, Jason OL
Davis, Matt CB
Graham, Maurice TE
Hamdorf, Michael WR
Hood, Lawrence DB
Huss, Jason FS
Ladoucer, Dan WR
McIntyre, Justin DE
Messick, Adam DT
Miller, Ricky DT
Oliver, Aaron LB
Orman, John DT
Packard, Devin DL
Paulk, James OL
Peters, Kreig RB
Powers, Cole DT
Titiriga, Greg LS
The reasons for these guys leaving are lack of playing time, grades and loss of interest. Some of the names were really blown up when we found out we were going to get them but they didn’t work out. The one person that really hurt us to lose, and I don’t know why he’s gone, is Kreig Peters. He was a fine runner and had bulked up and he assured me he would be back for Fall Practice. I asked several of the Players about him but they didn’t know the reason either. Last year when I wrote this same type of report we had lost several people that really did hurt us and most of those losses were from injuries. This year was primarily attrition and that happens every year.
Now let’s look at Injuries for this Team.
As soon as Mario arrived at practice he pointed out Clifton Smith catching punts and doing it quite well. This really surprised me as 8 days ago he was favoring his leg and looking very depressed. I had not seen him do anything all Spring or Summer but today he was dressed out and caught several kicks and now I find myself believing he can make it back for the Oregon game. Towards the end of Practice Clifton Smith, Seyi Ajirotutu and Marcus Riley ran laps alternating between slow and ¾ speed. None of the three looked as though they would be able to Scrimmage for a while. Marcus Riley looked the best of the three.
Roshon Vercher competed well in the overall Practice and did not hold back anything. So, that’s a relief to have him back.
Dwayne Wright is our #1 back and is going full speed. Right now Shannon Dorsey and Rich Owens are about tied for #2. The true freshman Miller shows good speed and moves but it will be hard for him to fit in early in the season. I would think Coach Hill would keep him out of the first games and see if we can redshirt him which would help us out for the next four years, he also fumbled twice and he will not play if he doesn’t straighten that out. If Clifton Smith can come back then redshirting him would make sense. The fullbacks are well covered and in fact I think we took too many from the LB squad last year. Vercher, Adams and Padilla should be able to cover the position. I thought that Kyle Richard was doing a good job last year but he wasn’t at this first workout.
The rest of the team will shake out over the next three weeks and the position Player’s will rise to the top. One of our strongest position’s this year is our group of Receivers. We have had great Receivers in the past but never as many real good ones playing here at the same time. They will help out whichever QB starts just because of their catching and running ability. It’s wonderful to watch.
I would also like to report for you Bear Pascoe fans (I’m one also) that he had his best practice I have seen. I don’t believe he dropped a ball and blocked his position well. -fsufever
I will report on tomorrow's practice and either me of fsufever will have reports for the entire week. I will add some pics from today's practice later tonight.