Friday, August 25, 2006

In Pat Hill We Trust?

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.


Anonymous said...

First off, I would not want to be the one making this decision. We have seen it time and again in college football when a coach chooses one QB over another the second choice becomes discouraged and looks to another program for playing time. In this day and age, you don't need to start at QB at a school like Notre Dame to move onto the next level. Guys are willing to move to I-AA and then prove themselves in their workouts for scouts. However, I don't see that situation transpiring at Fresno State. From most accounts, these two are guys are so close in talent and ability that if one struggles, the other WILL get a chance. Hill is not in a position anymore to stick with a guy who struggles. He stuck with Pinegar because the QB's behind him were not ready to play. That is no longer the case. The second string QB CAN and IS ready to play. Aside from these considerations, I have no doubt that PH will choose the best man for the job. Whoever that is, I don't know. All PH has tried to do in his time at FS is make the program better. He has definitely done so. Is he stubborn? Yes. Does he believe with all his heart that he makes good decisions for the betterment of the team? Yes. His stubborness and pride may sometimes be a hindrance, but most of the time it moves FS in the right direction. Whoever he chooses will have his full support but will also know that the man behind him is ready to take his job if he does not produce.

Anonymous said...

It seems as though some will never be satisfied with Pat Hill. He has two former QB's starting in the NFL but according to some does not know how to coach QB's. Dogs were top 10 nationally in points scored and yet some complained they were too conservative. On and on this seems to go.

Anyone reading this site for the last few months would have to assume Norton has clearly won the starting job. Hill, the story goes, simply does not understand what it takes to win and wants to ensure the second best gets the job.

The fact is that while Norton may be a bit more exciting with his swift feet and has thrown some nice balls, Brandstater commands the team better and has the size and experience. Neither has truly separated himself from the other and as the prior submission noted, the great thing is we have, for the first time in a while, two capable qb's to choose from.

And let's give Hill some credit here. He has taken a fledgling little program and given it an identity the entire nation knows. I moved to North Carolina a few months ago and everyone here who follows college football knows FSU and Hill. They all know "shut up and hit someone" and "anyone, anyplace anytime". Not to mention we are winners with a clean program and great academics. He should have a lifetime contract.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous #2. I move from CA to KY this summer. NCAA football fans here know Fresno St. and love Pat Hill. I have many friends all over the country who love the Dogs and Hill. People from Fresno need to get out a little more. :-)