Sunday, September 03, 2006

Was That Near Perfect?

As all of you already know Fresno State and Nevada played an exciting football game Friday with the Bulldogs coming out on top 28-19. I have to say I was very surprised by how well Fresno State played. I said the Bulldogs would win by seven when in fact they won by nine, but it could have been a much different game if one play here or there were to be changed. If Dwayne Wright did not fumble on the first drive the Bulldogs would have had seven more points. If Paul Williams catch in the fourth quarter had been ruled a catch Fresno would have had at least three more points. If Nevada did not miss an extra point early in the game they would have scored at least two more points. I can say if, but, or and but the fact is Fresno State played a near perfect first game with their new quarerback at the helm. Here are the things that impressed me the most about the Bulldogs this past weekend.

1) Brandstater's decision making: I questioned Tom Brandstater more than anyone from Bulldog nation. I did not think he would be ready to play for us, and I was wrong. He made one questionable throw the entire game. Each deep ball he put up could only be caught by a Fresno State player. When he would make a bad throw it was too deep for anyone to catch. If he rolled out and could not find anyone he did not throw the ball into coverage but instead ran with it. Brandstater has good mobility and a cannon arm to the outside. He hit Fernandez countless times right in the chest on balls he had to throw 25 yards to the hashes. Overall Tom stayed away from making mistakes, and as a Fresno fan what more could you ask for out of a qb?

2) Dwayne Wright: Everything about this man was phenominal. On two different plays he carried five-six players on his back while acquiring key first downs in the game. There is no question Wright is back and ready to assume the role of starting running back. I was also impressed with Lonyae Miller in his debut. He looked confident and ran through holes with explosive speed. He is going to be a great back in the near future.

3) The Offensive Line: If no one noticed Brandstater was touched maybe three times the entire game. There were plays were Brandstate sat back and waited for seconds upon seconds to throw the ball. Our offensive line also opened up massive holes for Wright and Miller to run through. Without these guys our run game would not have been nearly as effective as it ended up being.

4) Clint Stitser/Robert Malone: Many will say why Clint Stitser? He didn't even attempt a field goal. While that may be true, Stitser kicked the ball through the end zone each time except two, with one of those leading to a Nevada player being tackeld at the eleven yard line. Robert Malone boomed punt after punt and because of these two men we won the field position battle which is always important in college football.

Of course being as analytical as I am I did find one thing that continually will piss me off if it isn't fixed. Our third quarter defense was attrocious. Now I am aware some of our d-line starters were not in but that is no excuse to allow Nevada to run every play in the third quarter aside five. We were beaten up in the third quarter and if Nevada had not fumbled we would have been outscored by at least two touchdowns. Next weekend we will not be able to go through our game with Oregon and have a down quarter. Oregon destroyed Stanford 48-10 and will be ready for all we have to offer. Overall the Bulldogs played amazingly well for their first game together. Jefferson (#28 on defense) was amazing in the corner spot, as was Chastin West (#6) as a receiver. The Bulldogs have a great team this year and high hopes should be in our minds as fans. Here is hoping they can bring the intensity next weekend against a very good Oregon team. By the way, 40,000 fans on a Friday night at 5pm, awesome turnout. The game would have been sold out had it started at 7. The student section was loud as was the stadium. Hope to see everyone next weekend. I will start my Oregon preview tomorrow, Go Dogs.


Anonymous said...

fmJust one question... I know you felt bad about the D-line in the 3rd quarter, but I heard Jason Shirley didn't play the second half. He was a force in the first half. What happened and will he be okay to play against Oregon, because he is a difference maker. I know everyone bagged on him before about being lazy, but he was fired up and amazing in the first half. We need him against Oregon to slow their running game. Other then that No St. cannot be compared to Stanford, especially the running game. Brandstater, what can you say. He looked like a smart player. The only throw I questioned was his pass to Fernandez on an out pattern. If Pinegar would've thrown it, it would've been intercepted, but Branstater has real arm strength, and give credit to Fernandez. He went after balls. He seems like the type of receiver QBs love, because he fights for balls. Living in LA and looking forward to coming home next weekend for the game. Go Dogs!

Anonymous said...

Quaterback play was as good as could be hoped for. I was at the Nevada game last year and I would say Quaterback play was a big reason why we ended up loosing that game and the other games we lost last year. I remember us driving and saying to a fellow fan, "Pinegar is good for at least one interception in a game like this" and sure enough he came through.

Tommy made good decisions all game long. I was a little disappointed we didn't open it up a bit and hit Paul W. a couple more times. With the way we were running, a couple of play actions would have done the trick. But, all-in-all the offense won the game for us on the night.

Our defense on the other hand, I thought looked pretty bad. We were lucky that Nevada's quaterback struggled the whole first half with exception of the last drive. A couple of those drives were clearly stopped by the Nevada QB's inaccuracy.

Our vaunted defensive line look confused all night. We only pressured the QB one time and it was a game ending sack (matter of fact, take Clutts out of this discussion, crucial fumble recovery and a sack, that guy's an animal). The running game opened up some giant holes in the middle where our two huge guys reside. And the D-line looked tired the whole second half. Maybe there is a reason why we keep losing O-Coordinators and the D-Coordinator has been around so long. If we are going to win consistantly against the big names (much less dominate Nevada as we should with the talent we now have), we need a much better defensive scheme and our guys need to be way better conditioned.

Bright spots: Jenkins and Jefferson. Jenkins made one hell of a play on a touchdown saving pass defense. And I don't even know how many balls the big named Nevada receiver (covered the majority of the game by McCauley) caught, one maybe and it really didn't matter because it was on a drive after the game was pretty much sealed. Also the linebackers looked pretty good, banged up as they were. Last year Nevada ran up and down the field on us. This year the same holes were there, but the damage wasn't nearly as bad. Credit improved linebacker play.

Safety play was about average. Probably to be expected. They are going to have to improve a lot before Oregon, though, I am afraid. Too many people running open and getting behind out center-fielders. Again, good thing the Nevada QB rythm was off the whole first half. Oregon looks as good on Offense as last year and they waltzed up and down the field on a secondary that I think was much superior to this year's. I don't even want to think about LSU, it was the "long pass after long pass" highlight show on ESPN, granted the team they played was horrible, but yikes none-the-less.

Take home point is that we are in no position to beat Oregon in a shoot-out. Tommy B was good, but maybe still hard to compare with Paul as he threw the ball around a hell of a lot more. I would say Tommy is still pretty green and unproven in a game where we really need to pass. If we don't get better defensively against Oregon, I am not sure Tommy is ready to stand-up and be the gun-slinger required to hang in there with Oregon. The running game, as good as it was, just can't be as point productive as I fear we might need against a high powered Oregon offense.

This next game is going to be much more telling about the strength of our team this year. I am glad we gave it to Nevada. It was a long time coming and eased the pain of that windy 25 degree night in the metal stands of Reno watching our team get ran off the field with comments of "what are these guys ranked again" all night long. I like close wins because they build character and moxie needed for the rest of the season. Now let's get it on with Oregon and dang it play some good defense!

bulldog1 said...

Previous comments are pretty much right on. I think Branstater played as well as we could hope. This week we will learn a lot about our new QB. Our o-line dominated pretty much all night. Our receivers are solid and Wright rolled. We controlled for 3+ quarters with a very conservative offense. And sans a tough call and inopportune fumble we score at least 42 on them.

On the defensive side, again they were mostly controlled for 3 quarters. The rush was sporadic but Rowe did have to run out of trouble several times. DB's looked better than advertised and two TD's were the result of missed safety assignments. Ugly holes were opened for the running game after halftime. and the LB's better be in better position for Oregon.

All in all the Bulldog nation has to be pretty happy. If we are going to be real this season, a big test is coming to town.

I fly in from North Carolina and will dive up from the OC Saturday morning. We better have 42,000 screaming fans in the seats for this one. If not we may as well schedule Southern oregon College next year.