Friday, April 20, 2007

FSFB Changes Background in Honor of VT

VT family members across the country have united to declare this Friday April 20th, an "Orange and Maroon Effect" day to honor those killed in the tragic events on campus Monday, and to show support for VT student, faculty, administrators, staff, alumni, and friends. "Orange and Maroon Effect" was born several years ago as an invitation to Tech Fans to wear orange and maroon to VT athletic events. We invite everyone from all over the countryto be a part of the VT family this Friday. To wear orange and maroon to support the families of those who were lost, and to support the school and community we all love so much.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spring Impressions to Date

by NSC

With spring practice beginning this week I expect to see the Dogs playing hard and improving as each day passes. But what I have seen so far has surpassed any hopes I had for the Dogs and where this team may be headed in the near future. I am aware of the problems that are caused by a person who is overly optimistic about the football team’s situation and that is something I do not want to come across as being. Do understand my optimism for this team solely comes from what I have seen at the first two practices of the season. Anyhow on to the positives of the team to date and the impressions the team has left me with. Do remember I rarely review defense. Mario wrote about the defense and who has done a great job to this point over on Just to show you how lost I am when it comes to defense I didn’t even notice that Chris Lewis was on the field yesterday. So as always my impressions will solely focus on the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterbacks: As Mario said Brandstater has impressed so far. He has the touch, the fire, and the ability we hope for in a QB. He looks as if he is a bit more confident with his skills this year as opposed to the past. He is out there laughing with his teammates and looks relaxed for the first time in a long while. I feel like Brandstater is ready to have a great season, he just needs to continue learning from our new coordinator and he will be fine. Ryan Colburn looked better yesterday and made some very good throws over the middle. Colburn could be a great QB one day but it will be a while before he is ready to step in and command the offense. As a Bulldog fan you should hope that Brandstater is the starter because he is best fit for the job with respect to the Bulldogs this season.

Running Backs: Lonyae Miller looks amazing. He is fast, strong, cuts well, breaks to the outside well, and of course can run up the middle just as good as anyone we have had. I would venture to say Miller will be our number one this year although Harding has not exactly disappointed this spring either. With Smith getting some reps at RB he has looked amazing as he is cutting like he did in 2004-2005. Overall the RB’s are performing well as they have been able to find holes with a little creativeness that leads me to believe we will once again have quite a running game. This will only help Brandstater with his development as he will not have all the pressure on him. Teams will dare Brandstater to throw by putting eight men in the box. However, we all know the Bulldogs can still run the ball just as well with the offensive line they have.

Wide Receivers: All I can say is it really is too bad that Seyi Ajirotutu was injured last season. Not only is Seyi tall, strong, and rather quick but he also happens to have amazing hands. He catches the ball over the middle well, on the slant well, and will make the comeback catch as well. I cannot recall him dropping a pass in two spring practices. The same goes for both Bear Pascoe and Chastin West. I am just amazed at the hands on these three receivers. Shannon Dorsey has been the surprise of the spring so far as he looks fast, has great hands, and is showing that he deserves playing time as well. One area I have noticed Brandstater excels in is the swing pass to both Miller and Smith. At the same time both of these RB’s have great hands out of the backfield and have shown they can be counted on to make the catch and get outside If the ball is thrown their way. We also have seen a little more creativeness on offense as the Dogs have lined up with five receivers quite a few times. If this is the direction our new coordinator is going to take us then I am all for it as we will have plenty of options to throw the ball to this season.

Offensive Line: The one area as a Bulldog fan we should never worry about. Brandstater is going to have plenty of time in the backfield and the RB’s will have hole after hole to run through. The line looks great already and we have only had two practices. This offense looks ready to perform this season and over the next five months we can only hope that each player improves. Fresno State’s offense should get back to the thirty point range due to the fact that the weapons are all there. With players such as Clifton Smith on punt returns and Devon Wylie (when he arrives) on kick returns our field position should be better than it was in 2006. Look for the Dogs to take advantage of this and put points on the board much more often than they did in 2006.

With the mood in spring practice being so good I see the Dogs coming together well as a team. They are having fun, learning while they are on the field, and most importantly they are playing the game of football the way a team should. As long as Pat Hill can keep the mood somewhere similar to where it is right now this will become one of the better Spring practice sessions Hill has ever run which bodes well for the Bulldogs football team and their fans.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tom's New Beginning

NSC sent me this blog via email...

by NSC

It was a season we would all rather forget. Fresno State had just finished 4-8 with a loss to the San Jose Spartans for the first time since 1990. Tom Brandstater threw four interceptions and could do little to move the Bulldogs down field against the Spartans, something Bulldog fans had become accustomed to throughout the 2006 season. Fresno State would endure heart wrenching losses to Oregon and Washington in back to back weeks. Later in the season the Bulldogs would lose to Utah State in what could possibly have been their worst loss in school history. The Aggies of Utah State had long been considered one of the worst programs in D-1A football. They would finish the season 1-11 with their only win coming at the hands of the Bulldogs from Fresno State. Bulldog fans during the course of 2006 would begin calling for a replacement for Brandstater as he continually failed at the QB position. Brandstater rushed throws, threw into double coverage often, and could rarely find the open receiver. One would be hard pressed to find any positives to look forward to with respect to the 2007 season due to the lack of progress Brandstater showed throughout the 2006 season. Brandstater started 2006 out on a good note as he threw the ball efficiently against Nevada and led us from behind to challenge Oregon in a game Fresno State should have won. Unfortunately that would be the last time Brandstater performed at the level Bulldog fans expected him to. With so much going wrong how could there possibly be anything good to come out of 2006?

While everyone in the city of Fresno feels that 2006 was a complete failure, the season allowed the Dogs to do something they had not done in year’s past. 2006 allowed Pat Hill to put players on the field that normally would not have played had the Dogs been successful. At the same time Brandstater went through what possibly could have been the worst experience of his life. It became obvious that the fan base began to get to him each time he stepped onto the field. He was booed constantly by the fans and would one bad game after another. The players around him seemed to give up just as Brandstater did as well. However the 2006 season is now behind Brandstater and the Bulldogs. Tom no longer needs to worry about what happened this past season because Bulldog fans are more than willing to forgive all that has happened if he has a strong 2007 season. All signs point to 2007 being much better than 2006 if only because it will be hard to perform at such a low level again. Brandstater realizes that the fans expect more out of him and he is ready to take on this challenge in 2007. On the first day of spring practice Brandstater looked like the QB we all want to see on the field. While he is known for practicing well Brandstater had a zip to his throws that no other Bulldog QB can match. Brandstater has the ability to put the ball in places many QB’s at the college level cannot do. He is strong, tall, and has even added fifteen pounds of muscle to his frame. Some might mistake the Bulldogs QB for a TE this season because of the strength and size he possesses. Teams will have a tough time bringing Brandstater down in the open field. But we all know Tom has always had the physical gifts to be the QB at Fresno State. It is his mind that he is going to have to allow to open up to the idea as well.

Confidence is one of the single most important aspects of the QB position in both college and pro sports. A QB has to be able to believe that he is the man for the job and there is no one else out there that can take it away from him. Brandstater has to realize that we as fans want him to succeed. We as fans do not want to come out and knock Brandstater for the efforts he gives to make the Dogs a winning team once again. Instead we want to go home and say “Brandstater played one hell of a game tonight didn’t he?” We want to turn the television on and see Brandstater on ESPN as the announcers realize his physical talent is rare in most QB’s. Brandstater needs to find that confidence that separates the good QB’s from the great QB’s. Brandstater is lucky in a sense. While he did endure a terrible season he has been given a chance at redemption, a new beginning if you will. Many QB’s, in the college game, (Adrian Claiborne for example) are given one shot and if it doesn’t work out their experience is over. Brandstater has another chance to show the nation what he can do on the field. We as Bulldog fans know he is capable of amazing things on the field as the skills he possess are matched by few. But will he be able to translate the gift of looking like a QB into playing like one on the field?

2007 is a new beginning not only for Brandstater but for the entire Fresno State football team. The Bulldogs have a chance to achieve redemption against schools such as San Jose State, Boise State, and Utah State. The only way they are going to do so is if Brandstater finds his confidence and steps onto the field to play the game as well as he knows he is capable of doing. We as fans realize the 2006 QB situation was screwed up nearly from the start, but 2007 will be Brandstater’s job to lose. The Bulldogs have no one else to turn to as the backup is not nearly on the level that Sean Norton was this past season. There is no pressure of worrying who is behind Brandstater this season; Tom knows he is the guy without a doubt. Hopefully it will be this confidence that allows Tom to perform at the level he is capable of. If he is able to do so the fans will all forget what happened in 2006 and instead look forward to 2008, a season that may just allow the Bulldogs back into the spotlight where they rightfully belong.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Practice #1: Who's Who

Spring football kicked off Monday and the 'Dogs looked very enthused. The 4-8 season is behind them and it was time to start focusing on 2007.

But as a fan, it is hard to focus on 2007, when you can not even figure out who's who anymore? It's bad enough has only the 2006 spring roster available. It's even more frustrating come spring when players usually change their number.

Some were easy to spot, like the starting running back. One is wearing #22, that is Anthony Harding, the other #1. By power of elimination only Lonyae Miller could be #1. Some were not so easy.

Three new receivers were on hand in spring ball, #87, #17 and #18. There was also #86 who I am assuming is Darren Newborne who wore that number last year. The top four receivers returning all kept their same numbers #6 (West), #13 (Crawley), #19 (Ajirotutu) and #5 (Moore). Shannon Dorsey was moved to receiver and it looks like he kept his same number, #25. But what about the three mystery players?

One had to be incoming freshman Jamel Hamler. And since he is about 6-1 and close to 200 lbs, it was pretty obvious he was number #18, but he did have #82 last year heading into fall camp before he was forced to sit out. Could he be #87? No, #87 and #17 were both smaller than 6-0 and are probably walk-ons.

Back to the running backs, it looks like Jamal Rashad is now wearing #34 but who is #38. It is not Kyle Richard, who left the program last year. Walk on Aaron De la Rosa is still wearing #20. Andrew Jones and Kreig Peters both left the program last year. Was it Rich Owens? No, Owens is white, #38 was black and resembled Clifton Smith in size and speed.

But the biggest mystery of the day, who is #16? It's not Jordan Christensen but #16 is a quarterback. Obviously a walk on and nowhere near the size of Tom Brandstater or Ryan Colburn but still was a capable quarterback.

Defensively, #10 is probably LB Nico Herron. He wore #55 last year, but #55 was playing DE Monday and was white, Herron is black. The biggest and easiest number change on defense is #7 Jason Roberts. At first glance it almost looked like Brandstater was running defensive drills. I am not saying Roberts looked smaller but more of a testament to Brandstater's off-season workouts; he has bulked up.

Roberts easily stand outs on the d-line sporting a single digit numeral. But where's Chris Lewis? There was no #93 on defense but could he be wearing #27, his number in high school? But #27 is Michael Stuart who played DE last year but was suppose to move to offense. Well, that could explain the tall athletic TE on offense wearing #49.

Backup cornerback Damion Owens has switched to #4, hopefully he can play better than last year's #4 in the secondary.

Once I get the numbers squared away I can focus on practice itself or just have a beer.

Bulldog Football Play Hard

I was bored, enjoy!