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 BarkBoard.com. 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.