What Happened To The WAC?
With a loss Saturday Fresno State fell to 1-2. Fresno State's last two weeks of football will be games that we as fans would just as soon forget. Yes, Fresno State could very easily be 3-0 right now but we have to accept that they aren't. Our non-conference schedule has bitten us in the worst possible way this season, but I think too many people are forgetting what our first goal should be year in and year out: To Win The WAC. In the off-season Fresno State fans made it a point that our team should concentrate on the WAC championship this season. In the past our hot starts always lead us away from paying attention to our conference. This season is obviously far different from most. We will not be a BCS team this year as we have no chance of being in the top 12 at the end of the year. Maybe it is a good thing that for the first time in the past three years we have no chance this early in the season. Maybe for the first time Fresno can actually turn this thing around and take the WAC and run with it. Obviously it will not be easy because of two games that are on the schedule: Hawaii and Boise State. Is it possible for the Bulldogs to win the WAC this season? The answer is absolutely. We were able to see the difference in the run defense with the addition of Marcus Riley. Yes, I realize Stanback ran for plenty of yards but the two running backs for Washington rushed for a total of 30 yards. Every time James or Rankin touched the ball they were absolutely swarmed. If Fresno State can figure out how to stop someone on third and long they may be able to turn their season around. If Fresno is to return to prominence this season a few changes need to be made. Some of these changes in my opinion are:
1) On defense Fresno State needs to create pressure on the quarterback in one way or another. Whether it is through blitzing corners, safeties, or linebackers they need to figure out a way to get into the backfield (on a side note our safeties cannot cover anyone anyway so why not blitz them from time to time?). At the same time Fresno State needs to create turnovers. We had a chance to be 3-0 and have no interceptions on the season. I may be wrong but we only have two fumble recoveries this season as well. In order to control the game we need to create more opportunities and that won't happen without turnovers.
2) We need to figure out a way to open up the vertical game. If the coaches do not trust Brandstater to make these throws then put Norton in. I don't care who our quarterback is as long as the coaches let him throw the ball. It is continually becoming annoying to watch the Bulldogs run only because our passing game is no where to be found. We have some great receivers and we need to start taking advantage of this part of the game.
3) Fix the special teams problems. If we played special teams like we normally do we would be 3-0 at the moment. Right now we are 1-2 but if we can tweak the special teams back to what they were a year ago we will begin to win again.
I know these seem like simple answers but we really aren't that far away from being a very good team. We may finish 8-4 or 7-5, but 9-3 is not out of the question. We have some tough games remaining, but remember we are 1-0 in the WAC. Let's take advantage of that and run with it. I hope to see everyone out at the Colorado State game next weekend. It has been a tough start but we can support the Dogs and help them turn this thing around.