Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Rivalry Renewed?

When you think of rivalries the first that come to mind tend to be the national rivalries that we always see on TV, hear about on the radio, and watch when they are televised. You have USC-Notre Dame, Ohio State-Michigan and Florida-Georgia just to name a few. Here in Fresno we tend to think about Fresno State-Hawaii as the rivalry that we love/hate the most. At one time that rival was San Jose State. In a series that began in the early 1900's the San Jose State-Fresno State series has seen every type of game possible between the two. San Jose State has gone on a long streak of victories over the Dogs just as Fresno State has done the same over the Spartans. In the past these two schools would play for the Cal bowl year in and year out. The winner of the annual San Jose State-Fresno State game would be awarded a Cal bowl birth. Unfortunately times have changed for these two schools as Fresno State seems to have changed it's focus with respect to football. Over the past sixteen years San Jose has not had a football program that Spartan fans tend to be proud of. With losing season after losing season the Spartans have more often than not rolled over in the Fresno State-San Jose State series. The Spartans are currently on a 12 game losing streak to the Bulldogs. During the twelve game losing streak San Jose has only been competitive in three of the twelve games as the rest have all ended in blowouts. In 2000 Fresno State took on San Jose State with a birth to the Silicon Valley Classic on the line. The Bulldogs would win that game 37-6. That may have been the last time this series could have been considered a rivalry.

While it is true that the Bulldogs only won the 2002 contest 19-16 the fact remains that this series has had very little turmoil of late. In order for a rivalry to exist one team has to take something away from the other. One reason Boise State is not a rivalry is because Fresno has never taken anything from Boise State. Sure Boise State came into Fresno State in 2001 and ended our BCS run, but how have the Bulldogs responded to that loss to Boise State? The Bulldogs responded by losing four out of the next five games to the Broncos. Fresno State will not be able to make the Boise state series a rivalry until they knock them off and take the WAC title from them. The same set of rules applies to the Bulldogs and Spartans. If the Spartans can continue to improve and the Bulldogs get back on track next season this series may see the rivalry side it once held in the eighties. San Jose State will have to beat Fresno State sometime soon for us Bulldog fans to consider this any type of rivalry. I can tell you right now that Bulldog fans see San Jose State on the schedule and consider it a win regardless of who has the better record. The Bulldogs just beat San Jose State year after year and until the Spartans do something about it this will not be a rivalry.

I realize that San Jose State fans may see this game differently. San Jose fans and players are on the losing side of this series right now so to them this is much more of a rivalry than to the Fresno State side of the series. Fresno State seniors don't want to lose this game because they do not want to be the first Bulldog team in 13 years to drop a game to San Jose. San Jose wants to win this game because their seniors have never beat the Bulldogs. This game Saturday is much more intriguing than most games between the Dogs and Spartans. Fresno State wants to end the season on a four game winning streak sending Dwayne Wright off on a winning note. Dwayne Wright at the end of the San Jose State game will go down as one of the most dominant backs in Fresno State history. I believe he is the single best running back we have ever had. He will do all he can to carry the Bulldogs in this game. San Jose on the other side of it all wants to end a 12 game losing streak. San Jose wants to go into their first bowl game in forever on a winning note. San Jose wants to beat the Dogs more than any other team on their schedule and knows that the fans will be out to see this game Saturday.

Whatever happens Saturday there is a chance that these two teams can renew a rivalry that has been dead over the past seven-ten years. This will be a close game and Fresno State looks to be on the same level as San Jose State for the first time in a long while. I still feel like the Bulldogs are a better team overall. It has been shown if they get at least decent play from their QB they will win games. The same will go for the game against San Jose State. If Brandstater does not shoot himself in the foot Dwayne Wright will carry the load and the Bulldogs will come out on top in the latest installment of Fresno State-San Jose State.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fresno State - San Jose State Preview

First off, expect to see a great deal of Dwayne Wright this Saturday. He will get the ball between 25 and 30 times depending on the flow of the game. There is no way Brandstater will throw the ball more than 25 times throughout the course of the game. If the Dogs have to rely on the passing game they will not beat San Jose. San Jose is not the most talented team. I realize they have won seven games but I question how truly good this team is. San Jose's victories have come against teams with a combined record of 21-59 (and that is including div. 1AA Cal Poly who went 7-4.) I am not saying Fresno State is any better because our four wins have not come against very good teams either (aside 8-4 Nevada although that is debatable as well). However, the nation has the view that Fresno State is in a down season while San Jose State has overachieved. I guess this is true if you feel that San Jose beating six of the bottom thirty teams in the nation is overachieving. However, this is an evenly matched game across the board. Both teams have good running games. Both teams passing attack is suspect although San Jose is much more efficient with their QB than Fresno State is with theirs. Adam Tafralis is having a very good season under the radar because of QB's like Brennan and Holbrook also happen to reside in the WAC. If Fresno State's pass rush (12 sacks in the past three games) can continue to put pressure on San Jose's offensive line the Bulldogs will succeed in shutting down Tafralis. However, Yonus Davis is a very good running back and will be tough to stop.

What most people do not know about San Jose is they have one of the better defenses in the WAC. With respect to scoring defense they rank second only to Boise State who we all know went 12-0 this season. At the same time the Spartans are a very good home team this season. San Jose is currently 5-1 at home with their only loss coming to Boise State on the last play of the game. Fresno State will have it's hands full in this game regardless of how well they play. The Bulldogs will not be able to turn the ball over three times and still come away with a victory. San Jose has not beaten the Bulldogs since 1990 and has their best chance to knock the Bulldogs off this season. During it's current twelve game losing streak to Fresno State San Jose has been favored to knock the Dogs off before. This year's squad is far more talented than any of those teams during the 12 year streak. In other words this year's team has the best chance of breaking this string against the Bulldogs.

Both teams have plenty to play for. San Jose still views this game as a rivalry and will give it their all on the field Saturday. Fresno State will not be going to a bowl game for the first time in eight season and would love nothing more than to knock San Jose off for the thirteenth straight time and finish the season with momentum heading into 2007. As I said earlier this game will be one that is decided in the fourth quarter. SJSULatina has made it very clear to me that San Jose State is going to break the streak this season against the Bulldogs. I can't say that I have major confidence in anything the Bulldogs do this season, but if they do one thing well it is beat San Jose. I understand all streaks have to come to an end, but I believe this will not be the year that the San Jose streak is broken. If the Spartans took us on in the fourth or fifth week as they did last season then they would have beaten us. Unfortunately for the Spartans they get Fresno State on a three game winning streak. The Spartans will face a team who is confident and believes they will win this game. Brandstater will not play great but he will refrain from making major mistakes that will cost the team. Both Dwayne Wright and Yonus Davis will have stellar games. This game will come down to a field goal by Stitser and as we have seen he has been quite good lately.

Fresno State - 30
San Jose State - 27

This will be a well played game by both sides as both teams will deserve to win. Unfortunately in college football there is only one winner. Fresno State will do enough to win another game at it's home away from home. There will be plenty of Bulldogs fans in Spartans stadium to root the Dogs on. Everyone who attends the game will be in for a treat. I just wish I could make it up there to watch the renewal of a rivalry between the Dogs and the Spartans.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What Could Have Been

The Utah State game will haunt Pat Hill forever. 5-7 is better than the 1-11 most fans were thinking less than a month ago, but most thought the Utah State would be one of many "bad" losses this season. But it is turning out not to be the case, and the Aggies lone win of 2006 will likely be the culprit for breaking the Bulldogs West Coast leading seven game bowl streak.

Colorado State nose-dived after beating the 'Dogs. The Rams were 4-1 after beating Fresno State then UNLV the following week but lost their last seven. It looks like a bad loss, but nothing as bad as losing to 1-11 Utah State. The Aggies were never close to winning any game except Fresno State, and that game should have never been close. Coach Hill can speak all he wants about how this team will finish strong, but with losses to Colorado State and Utah State, not even a blow-out over San Jose State will shake the bad-taste from this season.

Especially when you consider the bowl possibilities the Bulldogs could have enjoyed this season with an average 6-6 record. The MPC Computers Bowl gets the "first" selection among WAC bowls, after Hawaii gets its "auto" bid to the Hawaii Bowl. Fresno State would be the likely favorite over 8-4 Nevada and San Jose State. The opponent in Boise is more than likely going to be 6-6 Miami. 6-6 Florida State is headed to the Emerald (not official until Sunday) and that leaves Miami as the 8th selection from the ACC.

Even if the MPC Bowl selected Nevada, the WAC could have marketed the Bulldogs as at-large team to face TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. 7-5 Northern Illinois is the bowl's choice to face the Frogs. The Bulldogs would have sold more tickets and traveled better than Husky fans. The Poinsettia wanted to select Fresno State last season but knew it had no shot after the Liberty Bowl showed interest post Boise State and USC games. But a loss to pesky Utah State is the reason Fresno State will be playing for pride and not a bowl game in San Jose on Saturday. Oh, what could have been....

Is Tommy Our Guy?

Over the past few days I have read countless messages covering the topic of everyone's favorite QB Tom Brandstater. I have to say it is actually quite funny to see such a discrepancy with respect to what the fans truly think about Tom. A large group of fans do not approve of him and I can see their point. A smaller group of fans do approve of Tom and I can see where you are coming from as well. My opinion on Tom is to sit in the middle and see how the situation plays out. Earlier in the year I had a stretch of six or seven posts in a row where all I did was complain about the Bulldogs QB position and how I did not approve of Tom. I felt very good about having Sean Norton in the game but felt he was not given a fair shot. However, my concentration of this post is not whether Norton received a fair shot this past season or not, but instead if he will receive one over the offseason. I also want to focus on if Tom has truly earned the starting QB position with his play over the past ten games.

First and foremost there is absolutely no way Brandstater's play has warranted him a guaranteed spot as the starting QB for next season. With throwing totals of 155, 99, 109, and 143 against Utah State, New Mexico State, Idaho, and La. Tech there shouldn't even be talk about the QB position being locked up. Brandstater has not come through when we needed him to and I do not feel he has done a good enough job to warrant him as the starter for 2007. At the same time that does not mean he cannot practice hard enough to change this over the off-season. Brandstater's biggest problem is not his size or arm-strength. God was kind enough to bless him with both of those aspects to make him a college football QB. His problem is field vision and Brandstater needs to go back to the drawing board with respect to this aspect of college football. Against La. Tech countless times Brandstater hit his receiver but only after he was open for a good two to three seconds of waiting. Crawley's great catch in the end zone should have been a bullet right into his chest as he stood open in the end zone for two seconds before Brandstater was able to connect with him. I do not have a problem with a receiver not being seen from time to time, but the truth is Brandstater has missed so many receivers with respect to vision that I cannot even recall the correct number. Norton seemed to hit receivers as soon as they were open on their respective side of the field. But once again Pat favors Brandstater so that is something we as fans are going to have to deal with for a while.

Over the offseason Norton should have a fair shot at the starting QB position but I have a feeling that is not going to happen. Next year we will have four (yes four) QB's competing for the starting job with Norton, Brandstater, Faulkner (likely redshirt, the new QB's always do), and Colburn. There will be no room for error for Brandstater next season as he will have even more competition. I hear very good things about Colburn but until I see him perform on the field I will continue to question the strengths of each of these QB's. Yes Brandstater has a strong arm, but has he used it to his advantage this season? How many deep balls has he thrown to receivers down field? Even more importantly, how many of these balls have been caught by our sure handed receivers? As you can see my faith in the QB position has been completely shaken because of this season, and the truth is if it is not fixed by the beginning of next season this team is going to suffer through another 2006 season.

In the end what would it mean for the Bulldogs to continue a downward spiral with respect to the football program? First and foremost many of the fans will stop attending games (loss in revenue), as was shown in the last two home games of the season. Secondly, ESPN stated they will not allow Fresno State to have another down season. In other words if this happens again our national reputation will slowly disappear (If it hasn't already). Lastly we may begin to lose out on recruits. True this season's recruits already are looking very good, but if Pat Hill does not figure out a way to fix the QB position it will not matter in the end. With a better QB we will score more points. Scoring more points allows the defense more room for error meaning we can gamble more often and make plays. More plays on defense allows more opportunities to score on offense. Overall there is not a more important position than QB. Brandstater needs to improve his game if he wants to lead this team to cheers instead of boos. Without a QB this team will struggle next season. Remember if Brandstater struggles next season we will not have Dwayne Wright to fall back on. Truthfully that is something I do not even want to think about, and I know everyone who reads this blog will agree.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Positive Ending?

Fresno State's season has been a winding road that has led us to this point:

1) Three wins in a row

2) A running back who has single handedly carried us through the past three games inscluding 295 yards rushing Friday night.

3) A QB that may have found some confidence this past week with three td passes.

4) A 4-7 record with one game remaining.

The last statement shows that 2006 has been a disappointment to say the very least. Fresno State has become synanomous with winning over the past five years in college football. Whether it be ESPN, CBS, or ABC they all wonder what happened to the team that normally challenges for a BCS slot through the first half of the season each year. 2006 did not begin this way but the Bulldogs seem to have found some life towards the end of the season. The seniors did not want to go out on a losing note and the team as a whole has done everything in it's power to make sure that does not happen. San Jose State is the only obstacle that stands in the way of Fresno State winning it's final four games. Coincidentally the Utah State game is the only reason Fresno State will not be playing in a bowl game this season. If the Bulldogs had beaten Utah State and finished the season with a win over San Jose State they would have most certainly have been chosen for either the MPC or New Mexico bowl. Instead those births will go to Nevada and San Jose State (or so it seems). With Boise State playing in a BCS bowl this season the WAC should have four bowl teams total. Maybe a non-bowl season will give the Bulldogs time to reflect on what has gone wrong this season and lead them to correct their problems before 2007 begins.

I will be the first to admit that I have never been a fan of Tom Brandstater. However, I have to say that he made some very good throws this past Saturday against La. Tech. Yes, I realize how bad La. Tech's pass defense is, but shouldn't Brandstater find some type of rhythym against a bad team? Would you rather he just played horrible against everyone and never put a good game together? Maybe this is exactly the type of game he needs to get some confidence again. He looked like he would be a very good QB when the season started and if he can put up some good numbers against San Jose State maybe he will gain some much needed confidence going into the 2007 season. Brandstater is going to be our starter barring injury and I hope that Bulldog fans will just realize that. I know he may not be our choice but we do not coach the Bulldogs and should support the players that are on the field. I may not like every player on the field but they are out there giving 100% for the University of Fresno State and that is something I try to remember every time I watch a game.

With that being said the season is coming to a close. I hope that everyone will tune into channel 5 at 1pm on Saturday. The Bulldog-Spartans game should be a much better one than we are used to between these two teams. This is the first year in a long while that the Spartans have a chance to knock off the Bulldogs. If the Spartans win they will finish the season 8-4, yes the Spartans will have eight wins. If the Dogs can win they will extend their winning streak for another season. Many of us cannot remember the last time the Dogs lost to the Spartans and don't want to see them do so this season. I have a feeling we are going to see the Dogs best effort of the season this Saturday. At the same time if the Dogs don't come to play Saturday San Jose will break their winless streak and go to a bowl game riding a high they have not felt in over a decade.

Note - What the hell happened to Nevada against Boise State? I have never seen a team fall apart so badly in a big game. Boise State dominated every aspect of the game and will continue to own this series as long as Nevada falls apart in big games. Regardless of how bad Fresno State has played this season, not one time did they look nearly as bad as Nevada did Saturday. At the same time keep an eye on Colt Brennan. He needs three td's to tie the record for a season. With Oregon State coming to the island he will have a chance to break the record of 54 td's in a season.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Wright Way

Who needs passing? When you have a guy who rushes for 295 yards and carries the team on his back, passing is the last thing you want to do as a team. Last night in Ruston Dwayne Wright carried Fresno State to a 34-27 victory over La. Tech. Had it not been for untimely turnovers this game would have been far worse for La. Tech as they capitalized on three by Fresno State to keep the game close. Brandstater had a coming of age game as he finished 14-23 for 140 yards and three touchdowns. True he only passed for 140 yards but he made good throws and for the first time since the Oregon game he looked comfortable playing QB for the Bulldogs. It may be hard to believe, but this was a big win in many ways for Fresno State. Next week they will take on San Jose State who is playing for their first bowl game in God knows how many years. Fresno State has not lost to San Jose in more than a decade and does not want to start now.

Although La Tech scored 27 points much of it came off of Bulldogs turnovers. Fresno State gave away 14 points with two turnovers in the opponents end zone. At the same time the Bullldogs turned it over on a punt that lead to a La. Tech score to tie the game at 21-21. However, this Bulldog team late in the season responded with the legs of Dwayne Wright. The offensive line opened up massive holes for Wright to run through which lead to big gain after big gain. Wright set the Fresno State single game record for most yards in a game at Fresno State and has an outside shot at breaking the season rushing record. There should be no question as to who is the single most important running back in Fresno State history. Without Dwayne Wright this team would not have one win this season. He has taken this team and carried him in his last season as a Bulldog. All the accolades last night do not solely lay with Wright however. Damon Jenkins picked off two passes and is beginning to play expectionally well at corner. His timing seems to have become much better as he stepped in front of the La. Tech receiver to pick off a pass in their end zone during the first quarter. Jenkins also picked off a pass to seal the win. For a team with only two int's on the season these were huge plays to help the defense out.

Unfortunately it seems no Bulldogs win can go without a loss. Trevor Shamblee looked to suffer a serious leg injury in the fourth quarter. Up to this point there has been no information released but it looked as if it may be a MCL tear. If so he will miss the remainder of this season and chances are most of next as well. This would be a blow to a team that was counting on the JC transfer to continue his spectactular play at LB. At the same time it may be obvious but what has happened to Marcus McCauley? Play after play last night he was out of position allowing the receiver on his side to make the catch. He would be the defender that was burned at the end of the game allowing La. Tech to tie the score at 27-27. Whatever McCauley has allowed to get in his head this season he needs to let go. He has gone from a sure fire first round pick to maybe second or third rounder now at the best.

Overall last night was a solid performance by a Bulldog team that is showing promise for the 2007 season. This team is young and fun to watch. If one of the freshman running backs can pick up the slack and Brandstater can continue to improve this Bulldog team may be one to keep an eye on in 2007. Great win last night but we still have a long way to go.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

La. Tech-Fresno State Preview

It's hard to believe that La. Tech and Fresno State are both having such down seasons simultaneously. You have to say it is much more surprising that Fresno State is having a down year with 16 returning starters. La. Tech for all technical purposes lost their entire defense to graduation this past season. With a depleted defense and an inexperienced offense the Bulldogs of La. Tech were going to have a down season regardless of who their opponents would be. Unfortunately for La. Tech they would open the season @Nebraska, at home against Texas A&M, @ Clemson, and @ Boise State. Only Fresno State's three game stretch of Hawaii, @LSU, and @ Boise State could be comparable to such a tough stretch of football. So what should we look for in Friday night's game between these two teams of whom are both named the 'Bulldogs"?

Fresno State is going to do the usual. They Will run Dwayne Wright early and often. With no Sean Norton available even if Brandstater struggles he is our only option at QB. I cannot say I have much faith in our QB being able to throw the ball but I do feel like Wright, Miller, and Harding will get us enough yards on the ground to come out on top in this game. La. Tech is very similar to Utah State who coincidentally is La. Tech's only win in the WAC this season. La. Tech does not have much going for them on offense and honestly they have not played defense once this entire season. They yielded 35 points to a Utah State team that could only muster 13 against us. If Fresno State cannot find a way to put up at least 30 points it still may not matter. With the way the Bulldogs have been playing defense of late there is a chance 13-17 will win this game. The only problem is this game is nationally televised and this is not exactly the type of offense I would want the entire nation to see.

Keep in mind that La. Tech does have some talent and will challenge the Dogs to start the game. If Fresno plays similar to how they did against Utah State they will come away with there eighth loss of the season. However, I feel like this Dogs team has turned the corner with respect to defense. We will see plenty of Haynes and Harris on the field along with Shamblee in the middle. As long as Jenkins continues to play well and Andrews shores up the middle of the field La. Tech will have very few options on the field. This game will not be like 2004 as the Dogs should come out on top of this one rather easily.

Fresno State 35
La Tech 17

Note - For anyone who has not been to check out an article that was written about
Dwayne Wright. It is nice to see Wright getting some pub from a draft expert. Although the Dogs have had a down season Wright has played amazingly all season. Teams have stacked the line and forced the Dogs to pass, yet the Dogs continue to run with Wright. It is quite impressive when you realize Wright has rushed for nearly five yards a carry with everyone in the nation knowing he is going to get the ball. Congrats to Wright, I hope you find a good home in the NFL.

Secondly - It was a nice gesture by the Bulldogs to say thank you for the fan support. I feel bad that the stadium was so empty when the Dogs attempted to say thank you to us for the support we have given them over the years. This senior class may have underachieved this season, but they realize how important they are to this community. It felt good to see the Dogs talking about what they will miss the most. Many of them mentioned walking down the ramp to the ovation the fans give them. We will miss you seniors, best of luck down the road whether it be in the NFL or elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fresno State's MVP: Dwayne Wright

2006 will mark the end of an era for many Bulldogs at Fresno State (18 I believe). None will be missed more so than Dwayne Wright, the do everything running back that carried this team throughout his career. Wright's path to greatness at Fresno State did not take place without a few speedbumps, but the end result is one that we have become used to with running backs in this program. Wright will end his career while rushing for over a thousand yards in two different seasons and making a name for himself at Fresno State. In order to really respect what Wright has done for Fresno State we as fans should take a look back at Wright's career with the Bulldogs and what he has gone through to get to the point he currently sits at today.

Dwayne Wright broke onto the scene in 2003 when he took the place of Rodney Davis who seemed to be faultering at the running back position. Wright did not disappoint as he rushed for over a thousand yards in his first year with the Dogs. Fresno State looked to have it's running back for the next three years in place as Wright would give the Dogs the power runner they had always desired. 2004 would begin much like 2003 ended with Wright gaining over 100 yards against Washington in what was deemed an upset win at the time on the road. The following week Wright's college career would take a turn for the worst. On a breakout fifty yard run at Kansas State Wright would blow his knee out when he was tackled from behind. Due to the severity of the injury Wright would miss almost two full seasons at Fresno State. Many players would have taken this injury and let it affect their mental state. Dwayne Wright was not going to allow that to happen. Over the two years he would be away from football Wright would rehab consistantly allowing himself to become even bigger and stronger than he had been before the injury. In 2006 things would be a bit different for what was now a monstrous Dwayne Wright.

The 2006 season opened with a home game against Nevada. Many Bulldogs fan did not know what to expect after losing both Sumlin and Mathis to graduation. The Bulldogs would lose nearly 2000 yards of offense wth Sumlin and Mathis departing, but Wright was going to make sure it would not matter. In the season opener Wright would rush for 158 yards and three touchdowns. The following week Wright showed that 2006's season opener was no fluke as he ran wild for 154 yards and a touchdown against Oregon. Wright would be embarking on the single best season of his college career. Currently Wright has 1061 yards rushing and 9 td's while averaging 5 yards per carry. The Bulldogs still have two more games remaining against subpar defensive teams in La. Tech and San Jose State. Wright may end the season with 1400 yards rushing, making him one of the elite running backs in Fresno State history. Wright deserves all of the accolades he will receive from a season like this because his hard work and determination have led him to his success at Fresno State.

We will miss Dwayne Wright. He is the Bulldogs MVP this season without a second thought. When everything else failed Wright never stopped working. He is the one man that the Bulldogs could count on to do exactly what they hoped for game in and game out. If the passing game faultered Dwayne Wright would be there to run the ball, block for the QB, or catch a screen pass and turn it into a big gain. 2006 is Dwayne Wright, and we as Bulldog fans will never forget the running back he is and will always be in Bulldogs history. Thank you Dwayne for all you have done. You are the true definition of a Fresno State Bulldog and we all wish you the very best in the NFL.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Special Blog: Who Should Play in the National Championship?

With respect to the national championship picture we know one thing: Ohio State is in. After that the BCS has once again given us a gigantic mess. Because USC, Arkansas, Florida, Notre Dame, Michigan, West Virginia, Rutgers, and Louisville all have one loss there is no telling who is going to end up in the championship game this season. As of right now Michigan sits in the number 2 slot but if USC beats Notre Dame Saturday and then defeats UCLA the week after they will represent the West Coast in the national championship. Where the picture gets muddy is if Notre Dame or UCLA can knock off the Trojans. If this happens then the BCS will turn into a mess with few answers once again. There are many possibilities to this year's BCS mess and here are just a few options that could play out if the Trojans go down to Notre Dame:

1) If USC cannot get by Notre Dame it is possible we will see a rematch of Michigan and Ohio State, in fact that is the most likely scenario only because Notre Dame lost to Michigan earlier in the season. However, if USC beats Notre Dame and loses to UCLA this will further confuse the BCS.

2) If USC loses to UCLA but beats Notre Dame then you can rule out USC and Notre Dame. Michigan, Florida, and Arkansas will now have the inside track to the title game. However, both Arkansas and Florida will be playing for the SEC championship in two weeks. If Arkansas were to beat higly ranked LSU and then follow it with a decisive win over Florida would they deserve a title shot more so than anyone else? They afterall will have won 12 in a row with their only loss coming to highly ranked USC. If Florida wins the SEC championship do they deserve a shot to get into the championship by only losing to middle of the road Auburn? Or does Michigan deserve another shot at the Buckeyes?

I believe the best game possible is USC-Ohio State. We would get a West Coast team in the championship against a MidWest (maybe East Coast, I don't know what you consider Ohio State) team. You would see two contrasting styles of football and a great game would likely take place. We have already seen Ohio State-Michigan, we do not need to see it again. As readers what do you think should happen with the BCS? leave commonets with your answers and we will see what the city of Fresno would like more. On a side note kelley Carr made the argument Boise should be in the title game today by merit of their undefeated season. While this idea warrants merit due to the premise of it, I do not agree. Boise will not only get man-handled by Ohio State they will embarrass all WAC and mid-major teams in doing so. I know they are undefeated but they may lose to Nevada and this will all go for naught. The only team that definitely does not deserve a shot is Boise. Schedule better teams and I will go for it but until then you should be left out in the cold.

Two Down Two To Go

Pat Hill stated that this Bulldog team would finish the season 4-0 and why shouldn't they? This Bulldog team is not nearly as bad as the 3-7 record they currently hold. A few breaks here and there and this team is currently 6-4 playing for eight wins and a bowl birth. Next up is La. Tech, a team with more problems than Fresno State has right now. Yes, I realize that is hard to believe but La. Tech has done very little right this season. Fresno State wll not be traveling down to Ruston this week to play in front of a large television crowd. Instead the Dogs will head into Ruston and likely play in front of maybe 10,000 fans. In other words there really won't be much of a homefield advantage for the Bulldogs of La. Tech. Fresno has lost to La. Tech two years in a row, both of them being back breaking losses. The first loss ended a 3-0 start with wins over both Washington and Kansas State. The second loss ended any chances of the Dogs tying for the WAC title last season with Boise. In other words the Dogs have many reasons to get up for this game against Tech. Whether we win or lose will come down to game execution. If Tom Brandstater cannot break out of his funk this game may be far closer than we all would like it to be.

With all week to talk about the upcoming games against La. Tech and San Jose State I would like to focus on another topic. I am wondering what you as fans thought about Senior day with the Bulldogs. I realize we won the game 34-0 but
Matt James today pointed out many of the mistakes Pat Hill may have made during the course of that game. I did not realize that we didn't mention Kyle Young on senior day, nor did I realize Roshon Vercher was not starting. I don't want to sit here and down the team because we played a very good football game against Idaho. I feel like part of the reason that Idaho played so badly is because of the great defense the Bulldogs brought to the table in this game. However, I am wondering what you as fans think of Pat Hill and the job he is doing right now? Take into consideration what happened Saturday with Christensen and such and maybe we can all discuss what we think of this team right now. I feel terrible for Christensen because he should have been in the game to start the fourth quarter. I realize Hill is stubborn in his ways but everyone in the stadium and on the sidelines wanted Christensen in there trying to throw ball for the final time in his career at state. Maybe I am the only one who feels like Hill completely missed the boat here. Let me know what you think about how Hill handled this situation.

Note - I will be blogging about Fresno State for the remainder of the football season. Once the Bulldogs football season is over I am going to change focus and switch to the basketball team. I will still write about Fresno State football whenever we have news to share with all of the fans (MDG and I) but I think this Bulldogs basketball team is one we should all pay attention to and support. Just because the Bulldogs football team had a down year doesn't mean we as fans should forget how good the other teams at this university will be. I hope we have plenty of basketball fans, it would be nice to see you out at the games now that the Dogs football season at home is over with.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Step in the Right Direction

A few weeks ago it seemed that the 2006 season would be chalked up as one of the biggest failures in Bulldogs history. We as fans expected the Dogs to win somewhere between eight and ten games. Looking back maybe we were being a bit unrealistic. Although Dwayne Wright would be returning we would field a new QB and lose two of our best defensive players (Richar Marshall and Garrett McKinytyre). At the time many of us disliked Paul Pinegar for the many mistakes he made to end the 2005 season (yes, I am included here). Many of us also felt that although Marshall left we would be fine in the secondary because McCauley would be there with our four star recruit Mays. Unfortunately things did not work out and the 2006 season became a learning process for many young Bulldogs. However, the fact these Freshman and Sophomores are getting ample amounts of playing time will only help the Bulldogs between now and the beginning of 2007. Having so many young players in the game will only give them experience and make them stronger come 2007.

Every college football team goes through harsh times, yes even USC. There is no way to counter losing so many valuable pieces to a team. A large percentage of college teams have down years following the loss of a strong QB in their program. I feel that maybe we as Bulldog fans jumped the gun on losing Pinegar. Brandstater was supposed to be a bigger stronger QB but had very little experience on the field of play. There is no way to simulate gametime and experience is the biggest factor for a college football player. I am sure many of you were calling for Damon Jenkins head up until yesterday. If you noticed Jenkins made two very good plays on the ball, one of which he nearly intercepted. When the receiver did catch the ball Jenkins was right there to hit him. Jenkins is coming along because of the exprience he is getting playing against teams with speed such as LSU. This time next season I am willing to bet that Jenkins will be a much stronger lock down corner than any of us had thought he could possibly be. Haynes and Harris are both absolutely great talents and when you add Bell and Jefferson to the mix the Dogs have a strong nucleus in the secondary for years to come. To be able to bridge talent together is one of the most important aspects of college football and if it means having a down season from time to time then as fans we should accept that. If in 2007 the Dogs come out and win nine games while upsetting teams here and there that would be a very successful season.

2007's success is unfortunately going to fall on the shoulders of two men: Pat Hill and Tom Brandstater. It is no secret Pat wants Brandstater to be our starter. In the off-season Brandstater is going to need to work on his skills as a QB. He is going to have to develop a better sense of vision and touch. If the Dogs can get Brandstater to play decent (not great) they will become a dangerous team. Our running game is going to be great, that has been the one mainstay of this team. Brandstater is going to need to step his game up. Pat Hill on the other hand is going to have look deep into this team and make the decision that Tom truly is the right man for the job. If Hill sees the talent and feels that Tom will get the job done then I am finished bashing him. I want the Dogs to win and if we can win primiarly rushing the ball then I say give the ball to Miller and Harding over and over again.

Last night was a step in the right direction for the Dogs. While we will miss the sixteen departing seniors (along with Dwayne Wright) we have a great nucleus to start all over with. In college players come and go, some much more detrimental to the team than others. What we as fans have to remember is that we have a great program here in Fresno and we will have a competitive team for many years to come. Even in a down season we generally should have won six to seven games up to this point. Yes this has been a down year but if we don't have odd mistakes and unusual breakdowns we are playing to finish eight and four, a record most of us would definitely take in a down year. Next year maybe the breaks will go our way and the injuries will not tear apart our team as they have the past few seasons. Whatever happens the Dogs will be competitive right down to that final snap, making the fans, the city, and the university proud that we are Bulldogs.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

College Football Pat Hill Style

Today the Bulldogs took on an Idaho team that had an ex Fiesta Bowl champion as their coach and a fuming QB who wanted to play for Fresno State but was not given the opportunity to do so. Fresno State had not put together a complete game to this point and still may not have, but against Idaho the Bulldogs played their best game of the season. Relying on the legs of Dwayne Wright the Dogs ran over the Vandals en route to a 34-0 victory. What may have been the most impressive aspect of this victory was how the secondary played. Mixing Harris and Haynes into the game the Bulldogs secondary seemed to be everywhere they needed to be. Although they only picked off one pass the secondary had their hands on at least three more throws that should have resulted in interceptions. I have to say Jenkins played far better than we have become accustomed to and I feel like he is finally coming around. Next year could be a very good season for this secondary as it begins to gel together with underclassmen at every spot aside Jenkins at corner. Next season we have many returning players with experience and this only became possible because of our down season in 2006. If the Dogs had succeeded how they wanted to many of these Freshman would have never stepped on the field. I feel like 2008 is going to be the target year for the Dogs as they will be ready to step up and get back into the spotlight.

Today Fresno State showed they have what it takes to stop the Vandals. In the second half the Bulldogs defense held the Vandals to under 100 yards of total offense and used the running game to take complete control. Although Tom Brandstater was not impressive the rest of the Bulldog offense was. I don't think harping on the QB situation makes any sense anymore, we should all just accept that Hill likes Brandstater and somehow he is going to have to get better for us to make that jump from a mid-tier to upper echelon team. Tom didn't have to make the throws today and during the Pinegar era that was something the Dogs did more often than not. If the Dogs can build on this win and carry into the next two games there is a strong possibility that it will carry over into 2007. For those who were not able to see the game here is what was so impressive about the Dogs:

Defensive Line/Secondary - The Bulldogs were all over Wichman throughout the game. He had no where to go and was sacked four times and forced to throw the ball far before he wanted to. Jenkins went play for play with the Vandals wide receivers and found help from both Harris and Haynes. Dwayne Andrews also did an outstanding job of sealing the middle and not allowing the offense to run the ball through him.

Running Game - It did not matter who ran the ball, they were effective. Although Kyle Young was out the Dogs amassed over 300 yards on the ground with Dwayne Wright gaining over 130 yards. Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding both looked equally impressive and give the Dogs hope that their running game is going to be something special for years to come as both of these men are only Freshman.

Kicking/Special Teams - Stitser hit two field goals and Zimmerman did not allow one punt return. Our special teams held Idaho deep into their own territory each time they had the ball. Overall the special teams finally looked like we had become accustomed to over the past five seasons.

Overall this gives most Bulldog fans hope that down the line we have plenty to look forward to. Sometimes we go through bad seasons only to see positives develop as the season moves along. We have great Freshman on this team that will take the Bulldogs into the next four seasons. Fresno State will be back sooner than most think, today was just a glimpse of what can happen when the Dogs put it all together.

Fresno State-Idaho Preview

Today is the final home game for many seniors on the Fresno State football team. That in itself should be enough to get many Bulldog fans out to the stadium to watch the Dogs take on the Vandals. I would cover the strategies of each team but I feel like it is going to be very similar to all other games played up to this point in the season. Idaho is going to throw the ball early and often with their jaded "Fresno State should have taken me" QB Steve Wichman. Fresno State is going to try and run the ball repeatedly with Dwayne Wright to wear down the Vandals defense. I have not read any comment from Pat Hill about simplifying the offense for this game so I suspect there is a chance they might let Brandstater try and throw the ball deep once or twice throughout the game. This should be a close fought affair between to teams that really are far more equal than they have been in years past. I do not want to say that I daho is as talented as the Dogs because they aren't. The Dogs just haven't put one truly complete performance together this season and this would be as good a time as any to do so.

I realize the goal here is to win this game today against Idaho but I feel like the seniors playing in their last home game is what we should focus on. I feel like people should want to head out to Bulldogs stadium today so they can see some of these hard working Bulldogs football players giving their all for the fans, the city, and the school. Men Like McCauley, Mays, Shirley, Fernandez, and Andrews have all palyed their hearts out for this university and it would be great to see a large amount of Bulldog fans out to see this final home game. Not only is this going to be a good game, the players are going to leave it all on the field because they know that many of them will never step onto Bulldog field in front of fans again.

I want to apologize to everyone who reads the blog for the below par articles I have written lately. I have not focused on many of the bright spots with this team and what the future could possibly hold. Instead I let a hatred towards the way our coach runs the team get in the way of realizing how much these players give day in and day out. I cannot remember the last time I thought the Bulldogs were not doing their best to win on the field. This year we may not have the pieces in place to win every game we play but they are out there doing everything they can to get the job done. Hawaii, Boise, and LSU were just better teams than we were this season but that does not mean it will be that way for years to come. Next season could be far different with a couple of breaks here and there. If Brandstater can work on throwing the ball over the middle and develop better field vision he may be able to improve to the point that our passing game can become effective once again. Maybe next season our health won't bite us in the ass like it seems to have over and over again this year. Maybe a blocked field goal will not turn into a nightmare. We have had the single worst luck this season and things just have not gone our way. This team is tough and will not let this effect them for the remainder of the season.

I want to thank all seniors for everything they have done for the Bulldogs and this program. I know Kyle Young will not be playing but he has done one hell of a job for the Bulldogs throughout his time here. I would list every senior here but they all know they have given their best and I don't need to write their names down for them to feel good about what they have done for the Dogs. I hope everyone can join me and the rest of Bulldog nation out at Bulldog stadium today. I know Ohio State plays Michigan but does that really matter in the scheme of things? I mean come on people it isn't even the championship game and you can still catch Cal and USC when the Dogs game is over. Get out to the game and watch these guys, it's still one of the more entertaining things to do on a Saturday afternoon in Fresno and I for one will never miss a Bulldog game for as long as they play football at Bulldog stadium.

Fresno State 27
Idaho 20

Note - I hope that Pat Hill's son Zac recovers from his injury he suffered last night against Sanger high school in a timely fashion. Zac is a very sound football player with a bright future and I just wanted to let the Hill family know that all Bulldog fans wish the best for Zac in his route to a quick recovery.

Friday, November 17, 2006

QB Recruiting? Should We have Faith in the System?

Recruiting is one of the most important jobs a head coach has with respect to a college football team. While it is important to get results on the field, day in and day out being able to provide the players to work in the system is just as important as any other aspect of a college football system. Pat Hill runs the pro style offense with the run being the number one feature of the system. Because Hill loves to lead with the run he in turn recruits QB's that will generally fit into the pro style system. Unfortunately this season our QB situation has not allowed the pro style system to flourish as it has in the past. One major aspect of a pro style offense is having a QB who can convert the third and long situations more often than not. The reason for this is sometimes defenses are able to stop the run on first and second down putting the offense in a third and long situation. Paul Pinegar was able to make this throw at least 50% of the time, something our QB's have not bee able to do this season. With that I wanted to run through the QB's Pat Hill has recruite up to this point and discuss if they have been successful or not. I think the results might surprise most people that have watched Bulldog football over the past ten years.
Billy Volek: The first QB of the Pat Hill era may even be considered the best overall QB in Fresno State history. Volek had one of the best senior seasons in college football history in 1999 when he threw for 30 td's and 3 int's. He also set the NCAA record for fewest interceptions per pass attempt thrown. However, Volek was brought into the Fresno State system under Jim Sweeney. Do not be fooled and give Pat Hill credit for this kid. He was an outstanding QB but he came along when Sweeney ran the show, not Pat Hill.

David Carr: It almost seems as if we give Pat Hill a pass for every bad QB he has brought into State because of David Carr. What should be realized is Pat Hill did not have to recruit David Carr, Carr did not want to go anywhere else. For Carr there was never a question of where he wanted to go, he grew up a Bulldog fan and had dreams of playing QB for the Dogs. He did an outstanding job for Fresno State and ended up the most decorated Bulldog QB of all time. However, once again giving Hill all of the credit for getting this kid would be wrong. Carr was not going anywhere else and had decided on Fresno State well before there was a Pat Hill to recruit him.

Jordan Christensen: The future of Fresno State football never truly grasped the Bulldogs offensive system. Although he has been great for the special teams Hill made a terrible mistake by proclaiming this 2 star recruit as the next great thing at Fresno State. While Christensen had the skills his throwing motion and football mind just did not fit into the college football world.

Jeff Grady: We all struggled through the Jeff Grady years together. The replacement for David Carr, Grady could never quite get on track. He was injury prone and could not make a big throw. He led the Dogs to a win at home against Oregon State but is remembered for being injured and the numerous mistakes he made while playing QB at State.

Paul Pinegar: Pinegar was never supposed to play for Fresno State. Christensen was anointed the next great thing while Jeff Grady was named the starter ahead of Pinegar. If things went the way Hill had wanted them to Grady would have started for two years with Christensen replacing him when he graduated. Pinegar would have served as a career backup, kind of what Christensen has become. Instead injuries allowed Pinegar a chance to play and he did not disappoint for the most part.

Tom Brandstater: An experiment still currently taking place. Will Brandstater ever develop into the QB Hill believes he is? Brandstater has turned into another QB that has not panned out for Pat Hill, and that is what I wanted to prove in this blog. Having faith in the QB's Hill brings into the system is something I cannot say I do anymore. I hear so much about how tough this Colburn kid is but I keep thinking he played D5 high school football for CVC. I don't think he is going to be able to come into Fresno State's complicated system and flourish as easily as the coaches for the Bulldogs are making it sound. I understand that recruiting is hit or miss, but with respect to QB's Hill has failed more often than not. The Bulldogs are in a rut right now and need to find that QB that can make the big throw on third down. Hill will not even consider Norton as a QB and I feel like he is the only one on the roster who can make that throw if he has to.

I guess I just worry that we will be in a rut like this for a couple of years into the future. After the 2001 season the Bulldogs did win nine games for each of the next three seasons, but we all know as Bulldog fans that those seasons were far from impressive. The QB play was erratic then and it looks to be even worse now. In order to be a successful football team your QB needs to be a team leader and I don't feel like our QB now is that. He needs to step up and take charge of the team the way Carr, Volek, and Dilfer did for the Bulldogs during their years at state. I don't care if it is Brandstater, Norton, or Colburn someone needs to take charge of the team on offense. If they don't this team will be a lost cause for the next three years, something I am sure most Bulldog fans do not want to see happen.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Unfortunate Sean Norton Situation

He stands at 5'10 according to most. He was named a Parade All American during his senior season at Hart Academy. He runs one of the faster 40 times on the Fresno State Bulldogs. He sits the bench as the backup to Tom Brandstater. Of course I am speaking of our 5' 10" wonderkid Sean Norton. Yesterday it was reported in the Fresno Bee that Sean Norton has mono and will likely miss the rest of the season. In a normal season I might hear of this and think nothing of it. During a normal season I might sit back and relax thinking "I hope he gets better for next season". However, this season something like this worries me more than ever before. Sean Norton contracting mono seems to have come at an opportune time for head coach Pat Hill. Now Pat Hill does not have to deal with the media and fans wondering why he continues to try to turn Tom Brandstater into a starter. Pat Hill will not have to face questions as to why he did not enter Norton into the game after he struggled in the first half against Idaho. The only backup we have now is Christensen and there is no way he gets into the game unless there is a blow out either way which is unlikely. I know many of you might find a problem with me looking at this as a suspicious situation but you may want to check into Matt James article today in the Fresno Bee. He mentions the numbers behind each quarterback and how it is amazing that Pat Hill is so insistent on turning Brandstater into a starter.

However, the focus of this blog is not on what Pat Hill or Tom Brandstater has done this season. Instead it is on the personality of Sean Norton and how he has handled a terrible situation. To this date I cannot remember Norton speaking out one time against the Bulldogs and how his situation has been handled. To this date I cannot remember hearing Norton say one thing against the university of Fresno State or the head coach Pat Hill. We as Bulldog fans should recognize the team player Sean Norton has been this season. He has lived with what quite possibly could be the worst situation a QB can go through at a university and has done nothing but waited for his chance to shine. When Norton has been put into the game he has not faltered as badly as most want to make it out to be. If you feel like a 59% completion rate and 3 to 1 td to int rate is a bad start then you are not paying attention. Norton brought a different type of QB to the game as he not only would throw the ball deep but would give the Bulldogs a QB who could roll out and hit receivers while on the run. Against LSU Norton had three very good throws dropped that would have put him near 200 yards for the game. Moore, Williams, and Kinter all dropped very good passes and Norton was viewed as a inefficient QB for completing 65% of his passes against the number one defense in the nation. Norton would then be pulled at halftime against Boise State after he completed 50% of his passes as he was only given the opportunity to throw ten passes in the first half. In other words Sean Norton received the rawest of all possible deals from head coach Pat Hill.

Did Norton complain to the public or the media when he was taken out of the game before he should have been? Did Norton whine to the public when Hill unfairly took his one shot at being the starter away from him? No, Norton remained calm and accepted what Hill had done. The funny thing is Sean Norton exemplifies everything that Pat Hill is about when recruiting players to his team. He is undersized with a big heart and skills that make him a great prospect at QB. He was often overlooked by other colleges because of his size and that is exactly the kind of player Pat Hill looks to find out there for Fresno State. For some unknown reason Pat Hill has shunned Norton throughout the season and every one of us as Bulldog fans have seen this taking place. Brandstater has not outplayed Norton. Hell, Brandstater has not outplayed any QB he has taken the field against this season. He has regressed every game to the point that the Bulldogs have been almost embarrassing to watch on the football field yet Norton still would not receive a fair shot at the QB position.

I want to say thank you to Sean Norton for the efforts he has put forth for this team. I want to say thank you to Sean Norton for the way he has handled an awful situation. If you were at a job and in line for the next promotion but were passed over for someone you knew didn't deserve it how would you feel? I am pretty sure I would be upset if that happened to me and that is exactly what Sean is experiencing right now. Norton is everything we want in a Bulldog and this situation may unfortunately force him to move elsewhere in his pursuit to start for a college team. I wish Norton the very best in whatever direction he decides to go whether it be here with the Bulldogs or on the road with another team. I have to say that if Norton transferred to a school like Sacramento State and returned to Fresno one day there would be a big part of me hoping he would tear a hole into our defense just to show Hill he screwed up by passing on Norton. Dinwiddie did it to us three years in a row in Boise and Norton seems to be the exact same type of player. Sean Norton will succeed wherever he plays if he is given a fair shot at playing, but here in Fresno he will not receive that shot this season, next season, or the one after that. Hill has made up his mind and there is just no one with enough backing to step in and tell him he is wrong which in turn seems to be the biggest problem this season. As I have said before as long as Hill is stubborn with his "my way" only attitude the Dogs will not win again under him. Trust me, this much is true.

Note - I am sure most of you are against this but I think Jordan Christensen should trot out onto the field as the starter this weekend. No I don't think he should play the entire game or even a series for that matter. However, it is his last game at home and although he did not pan out the way Hill hoped he would he did play a large role as the special teams holder. He also stuck around knowing there was no chance he would ever play and for that I believe he deserves to at least take one snap as the starter, even if it is to hand the ball off. I just believe in honoroing those seniors who stay true to the program. Regardless it isn't like he could do any worse than Brandstater right?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Should We Root for Boise? Of Course Not

Let me just start this out by saying I am not a supporter of Boise State. I do not care if they will give us an extra $400,000 dollars by getting to a BCS game, I am looking at the long term effects here and I think Boise in a BCS game will be a horrible occurrence for the WAC. Yes, Karl Benson thinks it would be great to get Boise into a BCS game but he has personal ties to the Broncos. For those Fresno State fans pushing for a Boise State BCS birth I only have one question for you: What the hell is wrong with you? I don't care if Boise roots for us whenever we are playing in a bowl up there, we have no business cheering on another team from our division. Having a deep hatred for another WAC team is where a rivalry begins. Look at Fresno State and Hawaii. Yes of late the games have not been close but do any of you honestly root for Hawaii in a bowl game? I feel like Hawaii is the best team in the WAC but when they play in the Hawaii bowl I could care less if they come away with a victory or not. It isn't as if the ESPN cup is that important that we have to find a way to cheer for other members of our conference.

Here is the problem with Boise making a BCS game: They will have done it in the exact opposite fashion that Fresno State desires to do it in. In other words Boise will have accomplished this goal in a way the Bulldogs would have never thought of trying. Fresno tries to schedule the bigger stronger teams in the nation so if they do win there will be no question as to who is deserving of a bowl game. The Broncos on the other hand could care less who they play out of conference as long as they are beatable. Yeah I know Oregon State beat USC but how many times have the Broncos won at Oregon State in the last four years? They can't beat a mid tier PAC-10 team if they are on the road and we all know about their decisive homefield advantage. To reward a team for going undefeated after they have played absolutely no one is wrong (Boise's SOS is in the 90's this season). The BCS system was put in place to reward mid-major schools but it should only reward those who take chances. Is it fair to give Boise the same shot that an SEC team with one loss will get? Look who the SEC plays every week. Arkansas has had to beat Auburn (on the road), Tennessee, South Carolina (on the road), and Alabama. To top it off they still have a game at Mississippi State and one at home against LSU to finish the season. If they win out they are rewarded with a probable final game against Florida in the SEC championship. So you are telling me that a Boise State team with marquee wins over Oregon State and Wyoming deserves the same type of bowl as this Arkansas team?

One final problem I have here is what will happen to Boise State if they do make a BCS game. They will get handled in the worst possible way by Wake Forest, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Rutgers, or Notre Dame. They have absolutely no chance to beat any of these teams and there is not one person that can argue that. Each one of these teams has much more talent and are far deeper than Boise State is. If Fresno State had gone undefeated they would deserve a BCS game by merit of their schedule. LSU and Oregon warrant a chance at another BCS team while Oregon State and Wyoming do not. I almost understand where many fans are coming from when wanting Boise to win, but I believe monetary matters have so much to do with this. Understand that money we would receive will go to something ridiculous like a new coach's salary and such instead of field turf or something the university could truly use it for. If we were to spend the money wisely the university would never be in the red like they are right now.

I just feel like there is one team we should follow in the WAC and that is Fresno State. We are all Bulldog fans and the Bronco love I have seen on the barkboard and similar sites really upsets me. I am tired of hearing the Fresno based radio shows who say it would be a great thing for a WAC team to make a BCS game. The only way that would be great is if it were the Bulldogs in a BCS game. We are Bulldog fans first and foremost. Do you believe Michigan fans want Ohio State to win the championship if they beat Michigan Saturday? Do you think UCLA fans would want USC to win the championship if they beat them at the end of the year? The same should go for Fresno fans. We cheer for one team together and that one team is Fresno State.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Change in Focus

Lately I am sure most of you have noticed that the focus of my blogs have solely concentrated on Pat Hill and how he has single handedly brought this team down. I am sure that I have come across as pessimistic and down about the Bulldogs but I feel like I have the right to be with what has happened over the past season and a half. Anytime you are a fan of a school that expects to win more than they lose a 2-11 stretch is going to bring you down regardless of how die hard of a fan you are. However, with Saturday being senior day I think maybe the focus should be on what the seniors have done for Fresno State. Although this has been a down year we cannot forget how important many of these seniors have been in our run of seven straight bowl games and seasons of at least eight wins.

Saturday will be the last home game for Fernandez, Amendola, Briscoe, Andrews, Christensen, Denman, Fairman, Goodwin, Kezirian, Leonard, Lingua, Mays, McCauley, Sherley, Simmons, Vercher, Williams, Young, and possibly Wright. In other words a large part of our team will be leaving at the end of the 2006 season. Yes this has been a down season but there are so many good memories of many of these players. Who can forge the 98 yard TD catch Williams had in a breakthrough win against Boise State last season or the game tying catch that Fairman made against Virginia in the MPC bowl? Lingua was a great punter for this school as he had a hang time that the Bulldogs are not quite used to seeing. Although McCauley is having a down senior season you have to admit that his lockdown skills on whatever side of the field he played on were quite impressive for most of his college career. McCauley and Marshall combined to be a great tandem for us at corner. Christensen had less playing time than any of these men but throughout the course of his career he did a great job of holding the snaps on every field goal and extra point attempted by this team. Yes it seems like a trivial job to hold but we all know how truly important extra points can be throughout the course of a college football game.

Although this season has not gone to plan we have much to look forward to in 2007 because of the tragic turns 2006 has taken. Many of our young players have been given the chance to get into games and that will only help them entering the 2007 season. With players such as Miller, Smith, West, Ciconne, Ajirotutu, Crawley, Moore, Haynes, Harris, Jefferson, Lewis, Stitser, Zimmerman, Ike, Kinter, Lane, Brown, Owens (2), and Riley returning the Bulldogs will have plenty of experience on the field to begin the 2007 season. I realize that if we continue to run the offense the way we have it will never be fixed. However, you have to think things will turn around eventually. Whether we throw the ball or put some trick plays into the mix the Dogs will not be able to run the same type of offense and succeed. These young men returning offer us hope on the offensive, defensive, and special teams sides.

However, the focus of Saturday should be on the seniors and the efforts they have given for the city of Fresno, the fans, and the team overall. The seniors on this team have played hard for four years now and for the most part have done an outstanding job. Because the coaching has not been up to par this season does not mean we should penalize these players in their last home game of their careers. Honor these seniors and go out to watch them play their final game in the city of Fresno. Idaho is going to be a much tougher challenge than New Mexico State as Idaho can score points and plays a much better defense than NMSU does. The Dogs will have to come out ready to play and if they don't this one will be over quick. Regardless of the outcome I will be there to watch some of my favorite Bulldog players for the last time and I hope you as Fresno State fans will as well.

Monday, November 13, 2006

When Does it Become too Much to Take?

I have to admit that I never felt like the Bulldogs season would get to this point. Never did I think that I as a die hard Bulldog fan would be openly questioning our coach over the past ten years in the ways that I have over the past few days. Never did I think that I would lose all faith in the coach's decision making abilities during the course of a football game. Never did I think that the lower tier teams in the WAC would have a great chance of knocking off the once powerful Fresno State Bulldogs. Unfortunately those non-thinking times in my life have come back to bite me in the ass. I have a feeling that most Fresno State football fans feel the exact same way as I do right now.

We have all put our trust in a coach that we never felt would lead us in the wrong direction. We as fans have felt that Pat Hill is the type of coach we might be able to latch onto and enjoy the ride he is going to allow us to take. Unfortunately for any of us who felt this way we have to go back and assess what has happened here in Fresno this year. On Saturday the Washington Huskies lost to possibly the worst team in the nation in the Stanford Cardinal 20-3. Washington (who is recently removed from a 1-11 season in 2004) is now calling for their coaches head. This is the same Washington team that has been the doormat for the PAC-10 over the past four seasons. Instead of accepting the downright awful job Willingham is doing their fans are calling for someone else to lead the way and here is where the big difference between Fresno and Washington fans can be found: Very few fans in Washington are defending Willingham.

When I write a blog that objects to the way Pat Hill has coached this team I am not putting down his character or him as a person. When I write a blog that questions Pat Hill's in game decisions time and time again I am only questioning him as a leader of this football team. I am tired of people defending a man who is continually driving this program into the ground. Let's take a look at the course our football team has taken this season and add Pat Hill's thoughts into each game. First we started with a win against Nevada and we all know Pat Hill was pleased with the team effort in this game. If we skip to the Washington game it became apparent to many of us that Brandstater was playing injured yet Norton remained on the bench for this loss. We followed that loss with another to Colorado State in which Brandstater threw three awful interceptions. Even after a terrible game Brandstater was given the chance to play against Utah State and once again he disappointed by leading the Dogs to a 13-12 loss. With Brandstater putting up terrible pass after terrible pass he was still given the chance to start against Hawaii. This is because Pat Hill has stated time and time again that he is a one QB kind of guy. After Hawaii was given a 28-7 lead Hill finally made a change because there was nothing else left to do. Norton played a good second half against Hawaii and was given the chance to start the Boise and LSU games. Unfortunately after a terrible first half against Boise (Which was still far better than Brandstater played against NMSU in the first half) Norton was pulled for Brandstater. Hill has continually lied about his motives this season when all he had to do is come out and say he favors Brandstater. No most of us do not agree with Hill but we would respect him much more for being open and honest. After the NMSU win Hill made the point that we won the game. Brandstater will start next week once again and will play terrible. He is not a good QB and does not have the skills to lead us for the remainder of the season. But in Pat Hill's eyes we are a much better team with Brandstater at QB.

However, this problem goes much deeper into the team than the QB position. The offense has been pathetic to put it best and shows no signs of improving. Hill also thought it might be a good idea to pull McCauley last game to give the younger guys experience. I can at times understand playing the younger guys, but when you pull a NFL draft pick it makes me wonder where your priorities really lay. Does Hill really care what happens with this team? Does he care anymore if they win or lose? I honestly think he does not have the mindset to be a good head coach anymore. Unfortunately I know many Fresno State fans disagree with me. So I ask all of you who still somehow support this man to explain to me why you do. What is so great about a man who lies to the fans and cannot live with his word? What is so great about a man who leads a team to an average of a 7-5 record over his ten seasons as coach? Maybe you can explain to me what I am missing because when I think of Pat Hill I only think of the disappointment he has caused. I don't see the fire everyone else does and I certainly don't see the team leader he should be. Maybe it's just me but I am tired of watching the Bulldogs play the way they are and I know it isn't all on the players anymore. No one would win in this system and I just hope that the Bulldogs don't have to deal with it for too long or everything they have built over the past ten years will be lost. Just think it took nine years to turn us into a national name and it could take one stubborn man to unravel it all.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

An Embarrassment of a win

I wish I could begin this blog by being positive about the Bulldogs win over NMSU yesterday, but there is just nothing to be that happy about. Dwayne Wright played like a man amongst boys once again and the Bulldogs did come out of the game breaking their seven game losing streak, but what else was there to be happy about? Tom Brandstater (our so called hardened QB) was absolutely awful and yet was left in for the entire game. Last week Norton played far better against Boise State but was pulled at half time. I have long been a Fresno State football supporter but I am almost to the point where I don't want to watch anymore as long as Pat Hill and his blatant favoritism are in place at the university. It has become quite ridiculous with respect to him playing a QB who cannot make the plays time after time and probably never will amount to anything more than an average QB.

New Mexico State turned the ball over four times yesterday all of which were fumbles (one occured on the last play of the first half so let's forget about that one). However, with three turnovers to work with the Bulldogs still could not put this game away and anyone who was at the game was able to see why. The Bulldogs defense came to play. While they gave up 367 yards passing they blocked two extra points and stopped a two point conversion. It seemed that the defense finally didn't break when they were pushed to the edge. There were even a couple of sacks and knockdowns of passes during this game. What cannot be overlooked unfortunately is Pat Hill's absolutely dreadful excuse for an offense. He continues to believe in a system and a QB that will never get the job done. The wors part of all of this is we will be back next year with the same pathetic offense and coaching scheme. Pat Hill does not mix things up, he is straight to the point and the entire city of Fresno knows what play is going to happen far before it does. It is not as if we have bad receivers, Bear Pascoe and Chastin West have emerged as receivers with great hands who will make plays in the clutch. Joe Fernandez made a very good catch for a touchdown last night in the corner of the end zone, but these men never get the ball thrown to them. Brandstater just cannot do the job that is required of him.

The season has three games left. I don't feel as if the Dogs are good enough to win any of these three games with Brandstater at QB. I wish he would be the man but he just isn't. I do not care if the third string QB is in or not, if he can get the job done let him play. This team has worked hard all season for Pat Hill and to see him throw away games like this because of favoritism to a guy who cannot do the job is sickening. In the end Fresno State will always be there, but Pat Hill's coaching job this season may change the path of his future at State forever. Boeh is not one who looks to put up with someone who does not perform up to par and Hill may be here next season, but mark my word: Two seasons in a row at Fresno State like this one will never be tolerated. I hope Pat Hill isn't too stubborn to find this out.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is Pat Hill a Great FOOTBALL Coach?

I have heard many people who support Pat Hill day in and day out including every single news station in Fresno. I will agree that he has been a great asset to this community with respect to academics and the national picture. I will also agree that for many years he led the Bulldogs to play a style of football we had not seen before here at Fresno State. However, if you look at the title of this blog I am not asking if Pat Hill is a great overall coach, instead I am asking if he is a great football coach. I do not feel with respect to football that coach Hill is necessarily good and most certainly is not great. Instead I feel like Hill has done an average job over the past ten years at Fresno State.

When Pat Hill first arrived he took over a team that was for all purposes technically on life support. The Bulldogs had endured some awful seasons at the end of Jim Sweeney's career and looked to be going absolutely no where. Pat Hill stepped in and revived this team sending them to a bowl game seven years in a row starting with the Las Vegas Bowl behind Billy Volek. Hill brought the idea to the forefront that the Bulldogs should be a national player with respect to college football. Soon the Bulldogs began beating BCS teams and looking to play anyone, anywhere, anytime. Hill led Fresno State to wins over Wisconsin, Oregon State, and Colorado to begin the 2001 season and for the first time in recent memory the Bulldogs had become a household name across the nation. Unfortunately we all know how that season ended and the following five seasons have all run the same tragic route. But did Pat Hill actually lead this team to these great wins, or is it all smoke and mirrors that in the end are fooling the nation into believing Hill has accomplished much more than he truly has?

When you take a look at our Big BCS wins we have only beaten one team that finished the season ranked: Colorado in 2001. Wisconsin fell apart, as did Oregon State in 2001. Washington and Kansas State were horrible teams in 2004 with Washington going 1-11 with a win over San Jose State. While many believe Hill to be a great coach I tend to see things quite differently. Since David Carr left the Bulldogs offense has turned into a predictable run first offense that lacks creativity. Year after year it does not matter who the offensive coordinator is, the Bulldogs run, run, and they run some more. If the plan doesn't work it does not matter, the Dogs continue to run without hesitating. Pat Hill does not make adjustments to what the offense and defense of the other teams are doing. If the Dogs were to come out in a cover 2 defense with little blitzing that is exactly what they would do the entire game. If the offense was going to come out with a run first mentality then that is what they would do the entire game regardless of the score. Making adjustments to the other team's strengths and weaknesses is what makes a coach great. Last night Greg Schiano (The coach of Rutgers) devised a scheme in the second half that held Louisville scoreless. The reason this happened is because Schiano adjusted the way the team played in the second half and did all he could to pressure Brohm into throwing the ball earlier than he wanted to. The result: Rutgers comes back from 18 down to beat Louisville 28-25. To me that is a great coach. To me that is not what Pat Hill is today.

To further prove my point let me use Arkansas as an example. USC pounded Arkansas to begin the season 50-14. Since that day the Hogs are 9-0 and in first place in the SEC with a shot at a BCS game. Why did Arkansas rebound from the USC loss so well while Fresno State has fallen apart since we lost a close one to the Trojans? Because Arkansas used the USC game as a springboard for the rest of the season. Arkansas knows how great of a team USC is and has built on that loss. How many times have you heard Pat Hill use the excuse that the Dogs just suffered a post USC letdown because they had nothing left to play for? I am tired of hearing that reason to justify a four game losing streak to end the 2005 season. If Pat Hill were a great coach he would not have let a season slip away like he did last season. Just so everyone knows, the Bulldogs had plenty to play for after the USC loss, and here is what I mean by that. If the Dogs had defeated Nevada, La Tech, and Tulsa they would have finished the season 11-2 and in the top 12 in the nation. This year they would have began the season in a much better position with some momentum. Unfortunately that did not happen because Pat Hill said the Bulldogs played for everything that night when they lost to USC and there was nothing left to play for after.

Now I understand how many of you can support Pat Hill because the times of Bulldog football before him were not necessarily the greatest. But I keep hearing a question along the lines of: Who would do better at Fresno State? Well my question to all of you readers is this: Better than what? All we need to do is find a coach that leads us to wins over bad WAC teams and occasionally beats a mid to bottom tier BCS team. At the same time if this new coach allows us to endure a losing streak of at least three games a season then he will fit right in. So you honestly don't feel there is a coach out there that could do the same job Pat Hill is doing right now? The academic game plan is already in place. If a new coach came in that plan would not get scrapped and the academics would be fine. It is now time to focus on football. What is best for the Bulldogs football program is finding a leader the team wants to play for. The best thing for the team is finding a man who will change things up and makes the adjustments needed to give his team a chance to win. The Bulldogs have the talent to win this year and aren't doing so. You can't tell me it is the players who are failing week in and week out. When you lose three games in a row and all of them are blowouts something is wrong with the system. I am sure I will receive quite a bit of disagreement with respect to my opinion on Pat Hill but he has gone his course. It is time to move on and find the next Bulldog leader.

Fresno State - New Mexico State Preview

Before I go into tomorrow's game against NMSU I wanted to say that the article the Fresno Bee did on Marcus McCauely and his struggles this season is a better one than most the Bee gives the public to read. McCauley blames himself for all of the struggles that he has endured during this season and does not point the finger at anyone else. I understand that McCauley's play has been less than inspiring for the past season but at least he is man enough to take the blame for what has happened. I respect Marcus for this and think when giving the shot in the NFL he is going to be a truly amazing player just as Richard Marshall is becoming in Carolina.

The Fresno State-New Mexico State game was one I pencilled in as a definite win to start the season. NMSU went 0-12 last season and has only defeated two division 1AA teams in the past two years. I would have never thought a Fresno State team could be the first division 1A win in two years for a team such as NMSU. Right now I feel the Bulldogs are at a decided disadvantage in this game and have very little chance to win. The Bulldogs cannot stop the passing attack of anyone right now and have a team coming to town that throws the ball more than anyone aside Hawaii. Chase Holbrook completes 68% of his passes and will be throwing the ball every single play because of the weaknesses in the Bulldogs defense. Unlike NMSU, Fresno State will not attack NMSU's weaknesses because that is just something Hill has apparantly abandoned with respect to the gameplan. We will run the ball up the middle early and often and probably allow Brandstater to throw the ball 20 times in this game. Honestly although I support Sean Norton I do not necessarily care who plays QB because neither has a chance to succeed in this offense. I think the third string QB would have the same amount of success that the first and second string would right now for the Bulldogs. With Pat Hill trying to control the clock like he awlays wants to this Bulldog team is always going to be a run first team. Will this work for the rest of the season? I do not think so as I have gone on record as saying the Dogs will finish 1-11.

I know that my attitude is going to come off as pessimistic right now, but if you go back and read the blog I tried to hold onto hope for this team as long as I possibly could. I continually expected our coach to open up the offense because there was no way the running game was doing anything positive anymore. Maybe Dwayne Wright will rush for 200 yards tomorrow and the Dogs will control the clock, but they still can lose to a team like NMSU even if they have the ball for 35 minutes. Last weekend Hawaii scored 68 points on Utah State but never held the ball for more than three minutes the entire game. NMSU is the same type of scoring team and if the Dogs hold the ball for the majority of the game NMSU can still score 40 points on our weak defensive secondary. With that being said I honestly feel like NMSU will score somewhere between 35-40 points. I think the final score will be in the arena of:

Fresno State 28

Our offense just isn't clicking and although Pat Hill is adamant about Brandstater being a different QB this time around, in this offensive system it would not matter how good he does. We have no creativity on offense and I am sure tomorrow I will be able to call at least 50% of our offensive plays before they happen. I know the rest of the Bulldogs fans will be able to do so as well. I know in time there is no where for this team to go but up. However, I have to say that I do not feel like this is going to be one down year. With the offensive and defensive schemes the Bulldogs run I don't feel like this team will get better until it parts ways with some of the personnel that are currently working under Pat Hill. I don't believe Pat Hill will fire any of the coordinators because somehow in his warped frame of mind he does not believe it is a scheme problem. He feels like Boise State is a far superior team because the players come to play every night. All of us here in Fresno know that the problem does not lay with the players but instead the coaching. How can receivers catch the ball if we don't throw it? How can the offense score if the other team's defense stacks nine in the box and we run anyway? We just can't do anything on offense and until Hill realizes that you have to make adjustment's to attack the other team's weaknesses 1-11 is going to get much worse next year.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Our Disappointing Leader

No, I am not speaking of Marcus McCauley, his picture is up because of his award nomination this past week (of which I do not feel he deserves this season). I spent the last four days in Salt Lake City, Utah and I apologize for not being able to write about the Dogs while I spent my time up North. Apparently I missed quite a bit with respect to Bulldog football. While I was gone McCauley was named a semi-finalist for the Thorpe award. Kyle Young was suspended for what I would guess will be the remainder of the season, and Pat Hill pulled another fast one by naming Tom Brandstater our starter once again. I will get back to this decision in a minute. First of all the Kyle Young news is terrible as he is supposedly our team leader on the offensive line. Truthfully I don't much care about Young not being able to play. To me that means an underclassman is going to be able to get some experience which will only help this team going into next season. Secondly our QB will not have to squat down so low any more because Young is the reason these guys have to get so low to receive the ball.

Now let me move onto the problem I have with the QB situation. I cannot for the life of me understand a coach playing favorites as badly as Pat Hill has this season. I have no faith in Pat Hill and am firmly now a believer that he needs to leave. I do not support him, his decisions, or his role as a team leader. He has lied to the public this season as he stated he never wants to move back and forth on the QB position but has anyway. It took him five games to give Sean Norton a chance and in return he gave him one and a half games to prove himself against a top 10 LSU team and a top 15 Boise team. This Fresno State offense would not perform against Sister Mary's Catholic College. Pat Hill does not get that the problem is not in the QB position, it is in the damn offensive system. I realize many of you readers will be upset with my decision here, but I no longer support Pat Hill. I have no faith in him and have grown tired of his nonsense as a coach. It's great to dream big but we have to handle the situation we are placed in first and foremost and that situation is the Western Athletic Conference. First there has to be the goal to win your division, then to move on beyond that. We have a shot at going 1-11 this season, and yet next year I have a feeling Hill will have the same unrealistic goal of a BCS game.

Pat Hill has been a good coach for nine years (good not great). He has led the Dogs to wins over teams we should beat year after year. He has instilled a great academic program that has allowed a much higher percentage of the Dogs to graduate college and make something better of their lives. Hill should be commended for these accomplishments without a doubt. However, football wise I see nothing left in him. He cannot do anymore for this team and there is no way on earth the players have any faith in him. Saturday New Mexico State is going to throw early and often and they will score 40 points without a doubt. Do you think the Bulldogs can score 40 points with the most unrealistic offense of our time? We have more position talent this season than we ever have, yet we lose game after game. You cannot force a system onto players, you adapt your system to the players. Our players cannot run the pro set this year, they just cannot do it. It has been shown during our seven game losing streak and it will continue to be shown for the rest of the season. Hill can act giddy because he is going to start Brandstater, but there will be no difference in our offense if we have 3rd and 8 or 3rd and 9 series after series. I hate to say it but I have no faith in this team Saturday and it has nothing to do with our players. I love the players on this team and feel like they are a great group who deserves better. Hill just hasn't given them what they deserve and it is about time Hill lives up to the consequences of his piss poor job of coaching in 2006. Just think, 1.3 million dollars to win one game. No wonder the Budget at Fresno State is in the tank, they heavily overpay for the worst possible results.

But what can truly be done about this situation? The entire city of Fresno seems to realize our offense is not going to get any better under the current system. My proposal is to have Boeh step in and tell Hill to make a change. I know Boeh is not the coach, but when the one positive of a college with respect to sports goes into the toilet sometimes changes need to be made. Boeh has to see the offense is as horrific as ever and must know something has to be done. We all know Hill, Hagan, and Brown will be back next year so something else needs to be changed. It isn't the players, the scheme is awful. It's obvious the players are scared of Hill or they would say something or try to get things changed. So who is in a position to step in and say something? The only person that comes to mind is Boeh. The Dogs will be losing money here soon as I cannot imagine there being more than 30,000 at the game this weekend. If we lose look for maybe 25,000 the week after. There just is nothing to be excited about anymore and I throw that on Pat Hill. You may not agree with me but he is the coach and this year I definitely feel like he deserves all of the blame for the demise of the Fresno State Bulldogs.

Blogger Note - The Blog has gone over 100,000 views and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has viewed this blog and read it over the past two years. It's great to know so many people care about the state of the Bulldogs. By the way tune into ESPN tonight at 4:30 Pacific Standard Time. If you want to watch a team who has rebuilt the way you should check out 8-0 Rutgers against Louisville. That is how it should be done, and I can only hope the Dogs can get back on track with respect to the football program.