Sunday, October 01, 2006

When is a Change Necessary?

Sometimes a team comes to a point in the season where if changes are not made the outcome will only become worse. Fresno State is at that point early in the season. Although the Bulldogs have only played four games they need to change something and they need to do it soon. This season is as close to over as it possibly can be and we have not hit the halfway point of the year quite yet. In my mind many changes need to made in order for the Bulldogs to salvage the 2006 season. I fear that if no changes are made this team is only going to get worse as the season moves along. In my opinion some of the changes that need to be made are listed below in order of importance:

1) A Quarterback Switch - Tonight after Tom Brandstater threw his second pic in as many series my brother looked at me and said "I was never on the Sean Norton bandwagon, but if he doesn't get a shot to play after the way Tom has started this season he should transfer because he can't be as bad as Tom has been". I have given Brandstater the benefit of the doubt in saying that the offensive playcalling is what has lost us the first two games in this three game losing streak. Tonight we were able to see what happens when the running game is shut down. D-Wright rushed for 77 yards (far below his 150 yards per game average) and the game fell into the hands of our sophomore quarterback Brandstater. Needless to say Brandstater did not come through. He threw for over two hundred yards for the first time this season, but that was mostly because he had to come from behind the entire night. His final line looked like this: 19 for 42, 3 int's, 1 td. Brandstater has shown that he continually looks uncomfortable in the pocket and has absolutely no touch on any pass that is beyond 15 yards. I am not one to knock a guy for giving all the effort he possibly can, but I just don't feel that Brandstater has the gifts needed to be a quarterback for this team. It is quite possible that Sean Norton does not have the talent to lead this team either, but if he does not play how will we possibly know? The Dogs need to give Norton a chance now because Brandstater has been given his chance and has not been able to come through. The season is not lost, but if we don't change this qb situation things will only get worse as the season goes on.

2) Special Teams - An eight yard punt. A 58 yard punt return for a touchdown. A blocked extra point. What is the one thing these three occurances all have in common? They all happened on special teams Saturday night against Colorado State. I do not know if the problem is the fact that Malone does not have the hang time that Lingua does, but something needs to be done to fix the punting game. Whether it be to kick it out of bounds every time or just plain go for it on fourth down, our punter is not getting the results that Lingua did. I am not sure where the lapses are on the special teams return team but not only do we give up great field position every time the opposition has the ball, we also cannot provide a positive kick return to help with field position for the offense. We cannot continue to allow the opposition to start from their 35-40 yard line every time they have the ball. Our defense aside McCauley cannot tackle, cover, or do anything right when it comes down to it. If the special teams is not fixed soon our remaining games could get quite ugly for Fresno State.

3) Secondary Changes - The hard truth is that Jenkins and Simmons are just not getting the job done. I realize that Hill wanted to redshirt Jefferson but he is the freshman who has shown he can stay with defenders. Why he is not playing is something I would love to know. Mays once again showed that four star hype out of high school will get you no where if you don't preapare yourself for the season at hand. Not only has Mays struggled in the safety spot but so has Sherley. The only bright spot in the secondary was Marcus McCauley which is usually the case for the Bulldogs. He did give up a long touchdown that made the score 35-17, but if you were to look back and view that touchdown you might notice a Colorado State receiver pushing off on the play to catch the ball. Unfortunately I do not know how the secondary can possibly be fixed. The Dogs need to figure out if they have a playmaker who can step in and play on the level that Richard Marshall did for the Dogs. If we cannot find any defensive help in the secondary Hawaii is going to man-handle us.

4) Create Pressure on the QB - Tonight in the second half of the game we were able to see Sherley (#97) get constant pressure on the Colorado State offense. However, as I said it only occurred in the second half. For the most part Fresno has not figured out a way to get their players near the opposing team's qb's. If this continues even a team like Utah State will give us a run for our money.

5) Offensive Play Calling - The Dogs coaching staff needs to figure out a way to pass the ball but only in a way that fits Brandstater (or Norton sometime soon). Although I would like to see Norton get a chance I know how stubborn Pat Hill is and there is no way he will blame any of this on the quarterback right now. Somehow Hagen is going to have to figure out a way to get this offense going. I think the change needs to be the quarterback but I am not sure if everyone believes that. If the O-coordinator has a quarterback that can make the longer throws while being somewhat accurate then maybe he would feel confident about calling deep routes more often.

Lastly I want to say it was great to have Clifton Smith in the game returning kicks. He had a chance to run back the first kick he fielded but instead fell down after a gain of 30 yards or so. At the same time it was nice to Marcus Riley out there roaming the field quite often. I know that most of you are avid Pat Hill followers. I realize I am going to take a huge hit from the fans for this one, but I also feel like it might be time for Pat Hll to move on. I know you are going to say that is ridiculous, but we have lost seven out of our last eight games. Hill has done absolutely everything he wanted to during his time at state. He built the program up and made them into a nationally known name. Pat Hill has the ability to be a great NFL coach because of the system he likes to run. It might be time for him to make that jump. At the same time Pat Hill makes an awful lot of money (over one million dollars a year) to coach a team that has won eight games on the average per season. It just might be time to get someone in here that is a little bit more offensive minded.

Fresno State endured a beating tonight at the hands of Colorado State. If the university does not do something about the football program and its coaching then the football team may very well become the Idaho of the WAC. It may not be something you want to hear, but Fresno State this year is definitely along the same lines as of a San Jose State and such (maybe not, San Jose did beat San Diego State 31-10). As I stated before this season is lost if Pat Hill and the Dogs do not change anything. I just know a change is necessary here and if we don't accomplish one then the Dogs will continue to fail during the remainder of the season.


Anonymous said...

Wow that was quite a loss. I was shocked by it and it has completely changed my perspective on Fresno State's year. I was one of those in the group saying 'two close losses against better than expected teams' and all of that. But now the idea is that this is a rebuilding year, and that the strategy has to be to get some of the younger players in to get experience. There is the chance to win the WAC, but at this point it is hard to imagine that happening after a loss to a team like CSU, a mid-level MWC team that i had always equated with a mid-level WAC team like UNR or Louisiana Tech, both of whom handed us losses last year. The home loss to an inferior team on paper, coming after another such loss, is hard to swallow, and the only way that it could really be better is if there is some way to know that there will be more hope for next year, by playing more freshmen and sophomores in hopes of readying them for next season. the Dogs have always been a very emotional team, and tanking after a hard-fought loss is pretty common (so much so that it's happened pretty much every year since at least '01), but this is the first time it has happened so early in the season. It is fortunate that the ‘new WAC’ has so many poor teams, but the bad ones are getting better. San Jose State especially is getting to be better, and I think that ‘dog fans can actually contemplate the first loss there in eleven years, especially after their recent victories against non-conference and BCS teams. Still, Utah State could just be the team to help get the ‘dogs back on track; however, if the losing streak continues after next week, it could actually get as bad as 3-9 for the dogs, though I personally don’t think it would go that far. As for Brandstater, I just don’t know if Norton is really the fix-all that he seems to be proposed to be. The problems are greater than just the QB, and it isn’t so simple as expecting Norton to go in and save the day. Play calling, special teams, and the o-line all played huge roles in each of the last three losses, and this team has always been one to let the emotion catch up with them. There was no question that this was going to be a rebuilding year and it is shaping up like one. The best thing to do now is lay the foundations for next year by giving the players who will be back next year the most experience and the chance to make something happen.

nsc said...

I dont disagree with you on the rebuilding, but I did mention that special teams, defense, and the quarterback are all the problem. I dont think Norton is the fix all either, but he could be part of the overall fixing process is what I what I was trying to get at.

Anonymous said...

My perspective has changed, as well. These 'Dogs, including the coaches, are indeed "laying down like dogs." I spend a lot of emotional and financial investment on this team, each year believing "this is the year."

Coach Hill, whom I have steadfastly supported, is not getting the job done. At over a MILLION DOLARS PER YEAR, he has a job to perform, and he is not getting it done. Hill himself has always been big on accountability. He needs to be held accountable for this mess.

I do love the 'Dogs, and I do support them. Sometimes, "tough love" is the truest measure of support.

Go 'Dogs.

Anonymous said...

on a different level....
what was wrong with the fans at the game?
i was in the student section and it was deadly silent. Usually, i can't hear myself when im screaming while we are on D or after big plays, even singin the songs or wutever. This time, i just felt awkward cuz me and the 2 people i went with were the only people yelling. It was fucking annoying. After big plays, itd kinda get loud, then just die.
I know this game wasn't as hyped as the two pac 10 games before it, and people were mad/down cuz of the two losses, but damn, some vocal support woulda been nice.
When the bulldogs needed the fans to pick em up, they just didn't do it. I was pissed.

pleasewintheWAC! said...

I think the problem is, when you lose 7 of 8 games, the fans, even the students begin losing hope.

I have always said I was shocked when I saw David Carr on the cover of SI in 2001. Coach Pat Hill has done a tremendous job of building Fresno State into a recognized program across the country. Growing up in Fresno I never even though that Fresno could play teams like Oregon or USC.

Fresno State is forever indebted to Pat Hill as a Coach, but if he moves on after this year, I don't think a new coach, LANE KIFFIN, would be bad to breath new life into Fresno State's program.

There is not such thing as a rebuilding year in college football. There is no salary cap. There is no free agency. USC, and I bring up USC because that is the type of program Fresno State aspires to be, which is why Coach Pat Hill will play anyone anytime anywhere, does not have a rebuilding year. There is only reloading years.

Fresno State has no excuse for the way they have played this year. They have been unfocused, undetermined and have failed to play up to the level that we the fans have come to expect them how to play. That is why the fans have been so subdued.

nsc said...

Pleasewinthewac I completely agree with you. This season has gotten out of hand and there are so many things wrong that it is hard to put blame on any one player. I do get frustrated with this team just as much as you do. It is tough to deal with the failures that this team continually goes through and if we don't change something this season is going to end up ugly. I guess we will see what happens.

Anonymous said...

On first and second down our defense is decent but our 3rd down defense is terrible and this has to do with the scheme we play on 3rd down which is the coaches fault. The tackling is very bad as well as the pressure on the QB. Aside from a few plays in the second half their QB had as much time as he wanted to find a receiver.We cause no turnovers like we have done in years past. If you can't stop anybody then you are not going to win very many games.

The offensive play calling has no imagination or even anything that resembles a gameplan. The ofensive coordinator makes no adjustments throughout the game. throughout the second half everyone in the stadium knew when CSU was going to blitz but the coordinator made no adjustments. When Tommy had to throw and CSU was blitzing there was no hot read, no tightend over the middle where the linebackers vacated and no running back in the flat as an outlet. It was always two or three receivers running fly patterns or outs with no hot reads for Tommy to throw. It would be difficult for a veteran let alone a first year starter to be able to make plays when you have to wait for a mid to deep route to develope as blitzing linebackers are in your face.

Did Tommy make some bad throws? He sure did but he also made some good ones that were just plain dropped by his receivers as well as having to throw off his back foot most of the second half because there was no protection from the line and no help from the play calling giving him quick outlets against the blitz.

I don't know if Norton would be any better but i do know it wouldn't matter if the other problems don't get fixed.

nsc said...

You are making it sound as if Brandstater did nothing wrong this past game or during the season up to this point for that matter.

Brandstater does have a stare down problem with receivers. I hope you have noticed this because his last two interceptions saturday were due to him staring down williams and fernandez respectively. Also do not solely blame the offensive coordinator for the adjustment to the blitzes, the quarterback can also audible to hot routes over the middle if he reads blitz. It isn't like he can't look up and see what is coming before it happens.

You can blame coaching all you want, but the coaches can only take the players so far, the players still have to perform. Brandstater needs to step his game up, he is lacking in many areas that matter at quarterback. If he doesnt fix them wont matter because Hill wont bench him regardless of how bad he plays.

mdg said...

Coaches don't blame Tom at all for the team's performance and loss. He will start and play the entire game at Utah State barring injury.

Folks it all starts at QB, I am not saying Norton is the savior, but if the QB performed better, it wouldn't matter if the defense or special teams made a mistake. Fresno State should be scoring 35-40 pts every game with the offensive weapons. The biggest question mark on offense was whether Dwayne Wright could hold up after missing two years, and he has performed above and beyond what many predicted.

Brandstater better learn quick or else this team will be 2-6 in early November. And I will say it first, Hawaii will beat FS worse than LSU and BSU will. FS let Caleb Hanie put up 260 through the air, imagine what Brennan will do. It will be an emotional rivalry game, but FS will be overmatched.

nsc said...

Hawaii will hurt us and they will pour it on because of what we did to them two years ago when they were down. Not to mention New Mexico State's QB Holbrook should have a field day passing on us. I mean the guy throws for 400 plus yards a game. We have such a bad pass defense, I cannot imagine what these two qb's are going to do against us. It could get ugly, really ugly for the Bulldogs. Like i said, the pro style offense will not win in the WAC. We need a high flying scoring offense and Pat Hill is not the one to give us that kind of offense.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying Tommy has done a great job this season or even a good job. All i'm saying is there is way to many problems on this team than just the QB position and as far as i know the receivers are also supposed to recognize the blitz and cut their routes short but i don't recall ever seeing them do that.

W.T.F. said...

How do we lose to inferior teams at home? Brandstater pick your head up and lead the fucking team!