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.