Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Random Thoughts on the Young Season

Panic seems to be the emotion of choice for most Fresno State fans and who am I to judge you fans for feeling this way? We currently sit at 1-2 and have a chance to lose the most games this season since 1998 when we finished 5-6. What seems to boggle most Bulldog fans is we have what could be the best collection of talent Fresno State has ever put together. We have quite possibly four players that may very well be drafted in the first two rounds. I am not 100% sure, but I would venture to say Fresno State has never had that many players drafted so high in the same draft. How is it possible to have such a strong collection of talent and wind up losing two out of the first three games this season? The answer: Depth.

Fresno State may have outstanding talent in many positions but once a star player is hurt we have very little to back that player up. Yes we have Lonyae Miller at backup but is he truly on the level of Dwayne Wright? If Marcus McCauley were to go down how would the Bulldogs handle that problem? Well if you watched the Oregon game you were able to see what would happen. Oregon immediately attacked McCauley's vacated side of the field play after play leading to a touchdown pass from Dixon. The reason I bring up depth is that the Bulldogs in the span of three days have learned they will be missing three key players for most of the season. Jaron Fairman will miss the remainder of the season due to an ACL injury. No Fairman is not the most talented player on this team, but he runs great routes and has amazing hands as the third receiver. Chastin West and Marlon Moore will have to step in and try to show they are ready to be an important part of the Bulldog offense (that is if we decide to throw the ball anytime soon). Cole Popovich will miss six to eight weeks due to an injury sustained during the game against Washington. Now this injury hurts but not as much as the others have because our offensive line tends to do a great job regardless. The third loss the Bulldogs will have to deal with is Mike Lingua. Robert Malone has stepped in to punt for Lingua but the difference has been obvious to most. In the Oregon game Fresno State allowed more punt return yards than they did the entire 2005 season because Malone does not have the hang time that Lingua did. This ends up hurting the Bulldogs with respect to the field position battle throughout the course of the game.

What do we have to look forward to is what most fans are wondering. Will the Bulldogs come together and make this a memorable season for both the players and the fans? I believe they will, and I believe we will recover beginning with the game this week. I believe Pat Hill is going to allow Brandstater to throw the ball eventually this season because he knows he has to. I would look for a stretch somewhat close to this:

Wins Vs. Colorado State, New Mexico State, Idaho, San Jose State, La. Tech, and Utah State
Losses vs. Boise State, and LSU
Tossup against Hawaii

Now take a look at those results. If the Bulldogs can win those games they should and win one of the three monster games that remain they fiish the season 8-4 with a 7-1 WAC record as long as they beat either Boise or Hawaii. That will be good enough to get us in the Poinsetta or New Mexico bowl this year. I would hold out hope for the Emerald bowl, but they shunned us once already so I wouldn't expect that bowl to come calling. The unfortunate problem here is that Boise beat Hawaii last weekend. Hawaii winning that game could have given Fresno State a chance to tie for the WAC as long as we beat Hawaii in return. Now I am hard pressed to say Boise may very well run the table and end up in a BCS game. If that is the case then we will come in second or third depending on how Hawaii finishes.

This season has many possibilities and if Fresno can figure out a way how to fix their offensive woes they will have a successful season. I know many of you have lost faith but we have only lost two games. I may not always agree with Pat Hill's decision as head coach (ok I usually don't) but these players this season are far too talented to not succeed. Brandstater or Norton or whoever will succeed at qb whne they finally allow the throwing game to open up. The running game will continue to tear up defenses and we have a chance to do some damage against both Boise and LSU. Do not count out the Dogs, we have plenty of time to show the nation how truly good we are.


Anonymous said...

This is a must win game. Fail to win and there goes the season. Win the game, hope for a decent bowl will remain. I believe the dogs should win this game because they're playing at home.

nsc said...

I think Fresno State will actually win the next two games relatively easily. The Hawaii game will be a different story, but you are right. If the Dogs slip up here it would mean a win at Boise or LSU is a must to get into a bowl game, neither of which look likely right now.

mdg said...

San Diego here we come....the Poinsettia Bowl is loving it right now. I am sure they will be watching Saturday's game. CSU played last year and the bowl takes the MWC No. 3 team vs. Army or an at-large team. Army is not going to be bowl eligible and it is no secret the Poinsettia's No. 2 choice is Fresno State.

There is a good possbility TCU will be playing in the BCS, thus it is quite possible the MWC might not have enough teams to fill their four bowl slots. There is a good chance Fresno State could be playing the Pac 10's 7th place team if available. A rematch with Washington? UCLA, Washington State or maybe Arizona. They just have to finish 6-6.

Anonymous said...

talking about depth, the Dogs may not be 4 deep as USC or Ohio St. The Dogs are not even 3 deep. To be in the top 25 the Bulldogs should be at least "TWO DEEP". If the Bulldogs do not have at least a "TWO DEPTH" above average backups on both sides of the ball, do not even consider to be BCS quality. Forget about the injuries. Injuries are part of football. The next Man in line has to step up and produce. USC is now using their 4th string fullback. You don't see them crying.

nsc said...

Hey now no one is crying that our depth isn't there this season, I was just making a point that we have depth problems. I think sometimes people read too much into this stuff. I just want to get across that our depth is not there and when we lose someone like a Clifton Smith it is obvious the effect is has on the team.

bulldog1 said...

Whoa! A bit of a tough stretch and the comments look like this is the end for the program. I am as frustrated as the next person about the way the season appears to be progressing but let's consider for a moment that we are a few plays from being 3-0.

Three plays cost us the Oregon game which by most accounts was pretty evenly played. Get that, evenly played. That means we played a top-20 team basically even. All their supposed superior talent and depth did'nt exactly get them a big blowout.

Then comes Washington. A game where we played pretty poor in a few areas and nonetheless we lose on a blocked field goal of all things. A game most feel where we had the superior talent. We hold them to 5 or so rushing yards. Yes our QB stunk up the joint and maybe we were a little conservative but check the log - when we ran the ball we kept the ball. Our passing game was simply not there last week. Can we be a little patient with a kid starting his third game. Were we so willing to dump David when he threw three picks against Ohio State. Just think, we could be NC State.

Should we be in panic mode? I doubt it.

And by the way, I also think this blog is pretty negative and has been rooting for Norton all along.

That said, I'll be back tomorrow.

nsc said...

Hey now Bulldog1 I am not negative, I did admit I was on the Norton side a while back but if you check my blogs I never once say the answer is to bench Brandstater. To me the biggest problem is depth and play calling, plain and simple. I feel like if we just let Tom throw the damn ball everything would work out fine. Do you disagree?

mdg said...


I think just realistic...if this team didn't have Dwayne Wright it would be 0-3 and not even close.

Face it, this team is not playing well in many aspects.

* The defense is not making plays
* Special Teams are way down
* No vertical game
* Execution is poor on 3rd downs
* Offense is limited

you say FS is close to being 3-0, very true, but good teams find ways to win...if this was a good team it would be 3-0. It is not --right now -- and is 1-2.

A lot can change against Colorado State, but if the game plan doesn't change, I'd be surprised to see this team win more than 7 games.

Oregon has whipped Stanford, who got whipped at home 37-9 by Navy. And the Ducks got lucky against a very over-rated Oklahoma team. I don't buy the Ducks as a top 10 team, borderline top 25.

Wash is not good. Fresno State should have beaten the Huskies to a pulp, but for some reason the passing game(??) never developed. UW beat an average UCLA team, that should have had a 4 TD lead at the half.

Nevada is not as good as most people thought they would be, including myself. The Pack looked awful at home vs a bad Northwestern team that struggled at home vs E. Michigan and lost by 20 to IAA New Hampshire.

The Bulldogs have talent, read the blog and I have been hyping all spring and summer long, but the coaching and execution is in the $h!ts...and after three games it hasn't gotten any better.

I am hoping the bye week has heeled the wounded, physically and mentally.

Anonymous said...

The glass half empty (good teams find a way to win) or the glass half full(we are 3 plays away from 3-0). it's just two sides of the same coin.

The real reason our offense stinks is a healthy Dwayne Wright. Yes i know how stupid this sounds but stay with me here.

A healthy DW means we can run on anyone and by just giving the ball to DW i think the coaches believe they are taking pressure off of the Tommy to make plays. I think this is actually causing the opposite effect making every time Tommy throws that much more important. Without DW i think the coaches would have been forced to find ways to generate offense in other ways.

Now don't get me wrong i love having DW back i just think the coaches are putting too much on his back and not allowing the other offensive players get into a groove.

mdg said...

good point! if DW was not available, this team -- like in 2002 w/o the other DW(Derrick Ward) -- would have to find a creative way to win some games.

After three games behind DW, FS is a few plays from being 3-0. And that worries me, the coaches may still feel that DW can carry them to a winning season w/o a passing game.

If DW got hurt, the offense would be in a world of hurt.