I have been unfair in many respects to Tom Brandstater as our QB at Fresno State. I have put much blame on him for not making the throws when we need him to. I have put even more blame on him for his decision making which really hasn't been too surprising if you go back and watch the games we have played up to this point. I do feel that Brandstater should shoulder some of the blame because he is the starting QB and he really is going to have to make some throws when the team is counting on him. However, I feel that the problems at QB amount from problems that occur all over the offensive side of the ball. The Colorado State game is a perfect example of what is wrong with the Fresno State offense. Below are just a few reasons why I feel like the Bulldogs offense is sputtering.
1) Play-Calling: I honestly believe that the Bulldogs coaching staff is to blame for this part of the game. Brandstater can only get the play in from the sideline and then go from there. If the O-Coordinator or Pat Hill calls two runs on first and second down leaving the Dogs with a third and long Brandstater is automatically put in a tough spot. As a first year starter the coaching staff should be easing Brandstater into these situations and the only way to do that is to put less pressure on him in third down situations. For example last weekend we had a third and one from our own 40 yard line and instead of handing the ball off to Dwayne Wright the O-Coordinator thought it would be a good idea to try and have Tom run for it out of the shotgun. Not only was this easily the worst call of the game, but it could also lead to Tommy getting hurt which is not what we as fans want to happen. If the coaches do not change the way they call the game they are going to continually put Tom in a position to fail as our starting QB.
2) Defensive Pressure - Our offensive line was bad against Colorado State as Brandstater was sacked more times than I can ever remember a Bulldog QB going down. The Bulldogs need to learn how to pick up the blitz so Tom is not continually under pressure in the backfield. Tom has little time to throw and is forced to let go of the ball before a receiver has even made a cut. If he is to be successful Tom is going to have to have faith in the offensive line to block for him. I will say two men you cannot blame for this are D-Wright and Roshon Vercher. They both do an outstanding job of picking up whatever blitzing safety or linebacker comes from the middle of the field. I have noticed the problems tend to come from the outside as the Bulldogs seem to let a man through each time untouched.
3) Offensive Scheme - Being a run oriented team is fine. Being a predictable run-oriented team is ridiculous and that is exactly what Fresno State has become. Everyone in the stadium knows we are going to run on first down, and if we don't run they know we will not throw the ball more than five yards downfield on first down. Open it up and run some plays that other teams would be surprised to see. The Vanilla offense is not going to work in two weeks against Hawaii as it has not worked up to this date. The Bulldogs offense needs to get back to the basics with respect to running routes, blocking, and picking up the blitz. If they do this Brandstater will be a much more successful QB in the long run.
With that being said Tom does need to stop staring down receivers and get rid of the ball a bit earlier. He also needs to get a better feel for the pocket. Of course there are areas Tom needs to get better in, but if the Bulldogs offense can help him out I still believe Brandstater can be a much better QB. If Saturday the Dogs block well for him and give him time to throw and he still struggles then it will be time to replace him. However, Tom deserves a fair shot with an offense that is giving him a chance to succeed.
Note - Fresno State received a committment from Clovis High's receiver Matt Lindsey who is one of the central sections better receivers. Who do we owe for a chance to land such a good receiver? None other than Tom Brandstater as Lindsey stated that palying with Brandstater is part of the reason he decided to choose Fresno State over both Oregon State and Colorado. Just so everyone knows Lindsey is one of the top rated receivers in the central section with respect to catches and receiving yardage as he had 13 catches for 225 yards in Clovis High's opening game of the season.