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.