Offensive Line - With respect to the WAC Fresno State will have the advantage here regardless of who they play. With a starting five comprised of Lepori, Wendell, Young, Popovich and Denman our quarterback will not have to worry about pressure often. Brandstater or Norton (The quarterback will be announced today at 11am) will have plenty of time to throw as this same offensive line (minus Lepori) gave up a paltry fourteen sacks last season. Nevada on the other hand allowedRowe to be sacked thirty times and lost two of their offensive lineman. Finding a way to protect Rowe will be a tough job as Fresno State will bring pressure as much as they possibly can. As I mentioned before, the Dogs defense must force Rowe to throw the ball far earlier than usual in order to break him free of his comfort zone at quarterback. The dogs defense will not be able to do this if Nevada's offensive line can provide Rowe the time he needs to disect the defense. Overall the advantage here has to go to Fresno State as year after year the Bulldogs can produce at least one one thousand yard rusher, if not two. As long as the Bulldogs offensive line protects like they normally do the QB will have plenty of time to throw the ball and give the Dogs an early lead they should build upon as time goes on.
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.