Friday, November 03, 2006
A Much Needed Adjustment
1-7. It doesn't quite fit right at Fresno State does it? I mean how often does a Fresno State team start off the season slow? How often do the Dogs go through the first five games without talk of a BCS game? In 2006 there is no talk of a BCS game, there is no talk of a WAC championship, and there is no talk of a bowl game for the first time in eight seasons. Instead there is turmoil at a school that has been an upstart program over the last decade. Instead there is bickering amongst fans with respect to how this team is being run. Instead there are more problems building up inside of a football program that looked to be on the right track for so many years in the past. Instead this football program is heading down the road to an unthinkable finish: 1-11. When is the last time a Fresno State team finished the season with one win? In 1944 Fresno State went 0-6 meaning the last time you could find a season where the Bulldogs looked so helpless happened over sixty years ago. But that is a moot point now. Fresno State is 1-7 today and the reason for this is adjustments that our coaching staff refuse to make.
Let's examine the beginning of this seven game losing streak. The Oregon game was called well as the Bulldogs attacked the weaknesses of the Ducks and should have come out of that game with a win. Brandstater made some great throws and showed toughness that made us believe we had our QB of the future. It would be the following week that provided a glimpse of what the rest of this season truly had in store for this Bulldog team. Fresno State walked into Huskies stadium to face a team that was absolutely horrible against the pass. Fresno State's response to this? Run the ball down the throats of the other team until we break through. It never happened and throughout the course of the game the offense never opened up the passing game. The following week at home Fresno State faced a Colorado State team that was stout against the run but questionable against the pass. Even with Colorado State stacking eight men in the box Fresno's response was to once again force the ball into the middle of the field with the running game leading to another loss. I am going to skip the Utah State loss because we did nothing right in that game and our game plan was horrific all around. Next up was Hawaii and we all know what they can't do on defense. But the adjustments in this game needed to made on defense as Hawaii had more than five seconds to throw on every play. We never blitzed, we never put in any other schemes, and we did very little to change our defense although Hawaii was shredding it play after play. LSU has no weaknesses so we will skip that game as there is very little that could have been done differently in that game. Finally we arrive to Boise State. Boise's pass defense is average at best. They are a great run defense team. So Pat Hill's response to this? Run the ball and let Norton throw the ball ten times in the first half. Here is where all of our problems begin for the Bulldogs.
Pat Hill in his stubborn state refuses to change his game plan even if the other team has sniffed it out after the first drive of the game. Great coaches adapt around the weaknesses of other teams. New England played Minnesota this past week and threw the ball the entire game even though they are primarily a run oriented team. Why did they do this? Because they knew Minnesota could stop the run but had a suspect pass defense. When the same situation was placed in front of Pat Hill with ten days to prepare for the game he had his team come out and throw a whopping ten passes in the first half. I am not sure if Hill has become senile in his tenth year but he has lost whatever edge he seemed to have in the past. One friend told me that he believes the reason we cannot go the distance with anyone else is because they have become just as physical as we are and are beating us at our own game. I cannot say I disagree with this assessment of the Bulldogs. The problem is where does this leave Fresno State with respect to the future? I am willing to bet that against New Mexico State the Bulldogs will not pressure Holbrook and he will tear us up passing the ball all over the field. There will be no adjustments made and the Dogs will give up forty points without a problem. If Pat Hill stays will next year's team do the same thing? Will the Dogs do absolutely nothing to combat the moves made by other teams? Adjustments need to made on this team and in more ways than one. Whether it be by changing coaches or the offensive and defensive mindset I do not care. Something must be done and if it isn't this program will end up being another San Jose State for the next five years.