After a 4-8 season setting goals for the 2007 season should be rather easy. Fresno State will not have to do much more to improve the team as a whole. The Bulldogs will be hard pressed to perform even worse on offense, defense, and special teams. With so many returning offensive players the Bulldogs should have very little problems scoring more than 23 points per game. However, if the passing game does not pick up the pace from 2006 this team once again will be mired in an ugly season with no one to blame but themselves. With that being said there are many goals for 2007 the Bulldogs should embark upon, some of which are in their control while others aren't. Without further adieu here are the goals I have in mind for the 2007 Fresno State football team:
1) Improve Offensive Efficiency - The Bulldogs offense averaged 150 yards passing per game. Anyone who actually watched the games this past season realizes most of these passes were on screens or dump-offs to the running back. Brandstater needs to learn to get vertical with the ball. He also needs to learn that the Bulldogs have plenty more receivers on their team aside one Bear Pascoe. I realize Pascoe probably has the best hands on the team but going into 2007 Brandstater is going to have to work Moore, West, both RB's, Crawley, and Ajirotutu into the offense. If we cannot figure out a way to get the ball to these offensive threats 2007 may look exactly like 2006 with respect to the offensive game plan.
2) Better Secondary Play - The secondary of Fresno State in 2006 was almost embarrassing. Ok who am I kidding, the secondary at times was horrific for the bulldogs. If you were to go back and watch game tape from every game the Dogs played you would count at least ten times where a corner or safety just had to turn around to intercept the ball. Unfortunately the defensive coordinator apparently forgot to teach the secondary that you are allowed to turn around when the ball is headed their way. Defensive prowess is something the Dogs will need to find once again if they are to be successful with respect to stopping the other teams offense.
3) Compete in Every Game on the Schedule - Yes this includes the road game at Hawaii where Colt Brennan will be returning for his senior season (I guess he read the blog yesterday huh?) Against teams like Hawaii if you are going to get beat have a good game plan. Go into the game and absolutely drill Brennan even if he is going to beat you down field. Make sure Brennan is laying on his back after every pass play. Playing on the island is no easy task, but if the Dogs can follow the game plan they used in 2005 beating the Warriors is possible.
4) Improve on Special Teams - The Special teams unit had been the strong point for Fresno State yearly as they had a knack for fielding great kick returners and an outstanding kick blocking team. The 2006 season saw the Dogs take a step back with respect to this arena as the special teams units cost the Dogs two games early in the season (Washington and Oregon). If Fresno State can find a good kick returner to give them better field position the chances of the Dogs winning more games in 2007 may not be so far fetched. Field position is everything and without a good kick returner the Dogs will suffer.
5) Stay Healthy - Unfortunately this is the one arena Fresno State has no control over. However over the past few years injuries have killed the Dogs. In 2004 They lost Dwayne Wright, in 2005 Marcus Riley and Clifton Smith were both lost for the season. 2006 was going fine until Q. Brown and Trevor Shamblee were lost. The Dogs need to hope that they don't lose an important role player for the first time in three years. Fresno State does not have the depth that the BCS schools do and if the Dogs lose a key player they no longer will be able to compete the way they would like to. Unfortunately that is the one thing mid-major schools always suffer with: depth. But if the Dogs can avoid the big injury they should be fine.
6) Last but not least....Hit Somebody - The Dogs need a return to the days where they punished players for catching the ball. A Kendall Edwards or Richard Marshall needs to emerge out of the players coming in for Fresno State. If the Dogs can find that one player who can lay a hit maybe he can spark the rest of the team just as these other players I mentioned did in the past. A playmaker on defense is sorely missing and Fresno State needs to try and fill the void in one way or another.
I am sure there are many more goals for 2007. I know that there is no way that I covered everything the Dogs need to do to make 2007 a success. However, I feel like these are good points that Fresno State should try and improve. If they can an eight win season may be possible once again. If the Dogs do not begin to improve in any of these areas we will be looking at another 4-5 win season from Fresno State with no telling where this team is headed in the future.